Standalone Catalog Business Is Gone

SAN FRANCISCO — Mokrynski & Associates senior vice president Steve Tamke wasted no time in telling catalog industry professionals at The Annual Catalog Conference here yesterday how important the Internet has become to their businesses.

“I keep telling myself I'm never going to call it the catalog business anymore,” he said. “It's the catalog/Web business, or the Web/catalog business. I tell my staff all the time, 'There's no such thing as a standalone catalog business anymore.'”

Tamke discussed what he called “two basic realities” that the industry faces.

“We've always been able to generate very good upsells on phone orders,” he said. “On the other hand, more and more of our business is coming in on the Web. In 2002, the average one of our clients at Mokrynski had 30 percent of their business coming across the Web. That's a great opportunity.”

Still, he said, catalogers have been unable to cross-sell and upsell as effectively online as they do over the phone.

“Where you could get 10 to 20 percent conversion on the phone, very often you're getting between 2 and 5 percent conversion on the Web to an upsell offer,” he said. “And that really surprised me when I first started noticing those statistics, but, when you think of it, it fits.

“The average viewer only views about five to seven pages per visit. It's more of a hunting behavior on the Internet as opposed to a browsing behavior.”

Tamke told attendees that “we need to find a way to use the proven principles of our business to bring that same upsell dynamic to the Web as we've had on the phone.

“Using … data mining technology, we can close that gap in performance,” he said. “We can take that impulse buying, get average order up significantly and get incremental sales with little or no increase in promotion costs.”

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