CHIMPFEET steps up holiday sales 47% without catalogs

No catalog, no problem. Pet-themed products merchant Chimpfeet didn’t mail a holiday catalog this year, yet its revenue was up 47% in November and December.

Chimpfeet had been mailing 32-page catalogs since November 2006, but a change in product focus prompted the company to put a temporary halt on mailings, says sales and marketing director Nicky Homer.

The Coachella, CA-based merchant launched in July 2006 as a pet products catalog. But it soon discovered that 80% of its sales were pet-themed gifts for people, such as clothing and accessories. And those products made up just 20% of the merchant’s inventory.

So Chimpfeet decided to overhaul its merchandising strategy, and suspended the catalog in August. “We had so many products coming and going, and it meant we couldn’t put everything in,” Homer says. “And we didn’t want to commit to catalog content in August when it might be out of date before the ink dried.”

Instead, Chimpfeet relied on search engine optimization, online advertising, and its e-mail newsletter to drive holiday traffic to its site, and the strategies evidently paid off. The hot items for the holidays included a $69 “Dog Day Clock” with a bone-shaped swinging pendulum, and a $15 dog treat launcher, designed for pet owners to play with.

But the company does plan to reinstate a teaser catalog, Homer says, now that it knows what its customers want. “The types of buyers we thought would buy from us were buying from us,” Homer says. “It’s just that they were buying gifts for their pets and people with pets and not pet supplies.”

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