2010: The Year in Multichannel

WHAT WERE THE BIG INDUSTRY STORIES for 2010? It’s always hard to reduce a year to a few concise bullet points — especially when you cover as many topics as MCM does. But there are a few that stand out.

The DMA’s direction

After high drama in fall 2009, the Direct Marketing Association’s then-chairman John A. Greco Jr. resigned in January. Lawrence M. Kimmel, former CEO of Grey Direct Global Network, was named DMA CEO in July. You can’t blame all the DMA’s woes (unhappy membership, unclear mission, unpretty financials) on Greco, but let’s just say the DMA has some rebranding to do. I don’t know him, but I hear good things about Kimmel.

Digging direct mail

When we ran Lois Brayfield’s article “In defense of direct mail” in the February issue, we hadn’t yet seen the results of our MCM Outlook 2010 survey. We were pretty surprised to see that 39% of respondents had used direct mail in the past 12 months — and that 48% were planning to use it in the next 12. Those are sizable numbers, considering the serious disdain many catalogers once had for direct mail.

Getting Google-eyed

Everything the search giant does affects how we do business, from the changes it made to its algorithms last spring (which messed with everybody’s rankings — including MCM’s) to Gmail’s Priority Inbox, which uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to automatically prioritize incoming email messages, to its new predictive search element Google Instant.

Postal, postal and more postal

Between the prospect of five-day delivery, the U.S. Postal Service’s exigent rate case filing, denial and appeal, Postmaster General Potter stepping down and the general concern that the USPS could run out of money within a year, there is truly never a dull moment. And since there’s no other way to deliver mail to customers, we all need to hope the USPS hangs in there until someone comes up with a viable, affordable alternative.

Videos, user reviews, social media, mobile

These trends are changing the way we shop and becoming so widely adopted by consumers and companies that many merchants will be able to reduce their reliance on print promotions.

What’s in store for the coming year? Here’s hoping for continued economic recovery, more technology advancements to enable us all to serve our customers more efficiently, and some stability to the postal system. (I know, it’s 2011, but I’m not giving up on print just yet.)

On that note, all of us at Multichannel Merchant wish you a happy and healthy holiday and a prosperous new year.

P.S. We’ve started emailing the link for MCM’s Outlook 2011 research survey, so please participate — we’ll be sharing the results with you throughout the year.

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