Gift Recipients and Ship-tos Provide January Sales Opportunity

The holiday season is here and holiday orders are starting to flow in. Gift orders will continue to increase over the next three or four weeks as we approach the shipping cutoff for Christmas. It is important to make sure ship-tos and gift recipients are tracked and added to the marketing plan for January/February to leverage the potential new customer.

Many companies do not add ship-tos and gift recipients to their customer housefile – but they should be done. Ship-tos and gift recipients are not hard to identify from the transaction detail. By comparing the bill to name and address to the ship-to name and address, both ship-tos – those orders going to the same name but a different address, and gift recipients – those orders going to a different name and a different address, can be identified and added to future mailings.

Ship-tos are actually buyers that have chosen to ship their order to a different address than their billing address. This may be their work address, a second home, or even a family home to where they will be traveling. Ship-to response is generally strong because these are actually buyers. The potential pass-along effect, the buyer sharing their catalog with another person that didn’t receive the catalog, can also be quite strong. The pass along catalog comes with an unsaid, and in man cases stated, endorsement of the company, “Sally, I think you will love sweaters they have…”

Gift recipients are not buyers, however, they do have product and brand synergy. Because of this, they become qualified prospects, especially in January/February. Gift recipients are most likely to respond to the catalog and full product offering shortly after they receive their gift – especially if they are delighted by the experience of opening the shipment and enjoying the product

All ship-to and gift recipient records should be run through address verification. In many cases, customers do not know the accurate address for their gift recipients. Any United States Portal Service address changes that are sent back to the company should also be applied to the database.

Ship-to and gift recipient names should be segmented by recency and added to the January/February merge as hotline names. Going forward they should be segmented based on recency and included in the merge below the inquiries and above the prospecting names. Ship-tos can typically be mailed for a longer period of time than gift recipients due to responsiveness. Don’t forget to bring these names back in for next holiday season. These gift recipients may feel their gift was so great last year they are going to order one for all of their friends this year.

Michelle Farabaugh is a partner with San Rafael, CA-based Lenser.

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