How Ross-Simons Incorporates Web Buyers into Its Circulation Plan

As consumers discover merchants for the first time online, those merchants are trying to find ways to convert these consumers into multibuyers. Cranston, RI-based gift and jewelry cataloger/retailer Ross-Simons is a case in point.

During a circulation planning and analysis session at last week’s Annual Conference for Catalog and Multichannel Merchants (ACCM), senior marketing director John Buleza said that Ross-Simons sends all first-time buyers a catalog, even those who purchased online. How the consumer responds to the mailing determines how often he will receive subsequent catalogs.

If the consumer becomes a two-time buyer as a result of the catalog mailing, which is preceded by a “watch your mailbox” e-mail alert, he would receive print catalogs more frequently that the customer who remains a 0- to 6-month Web-only one-time buyer. Should the 0- to 6-month two-time buyer become a multibuyer, he would jump into the next recency segment and receive the Ross-Simons catalog on a regular basis.

“If a one-time [buyer] does not buy anything for a while, I’m going to tailor offers differently than I would for a two-time or a multibuyer,” Buleza said. “If the customer becomes a one-time in the 7- to 12 -month segment, he or she will receive more e-mails than catalogs. I can skip some remails with them because their recency doesn’t make them worth a monthly remail.”

With Ross-Simons’s Web sales growing from less than 10% of revenue in 2000 to close to 40% in 2005 and projected to hit 50% this year, Buleza said that cross-channel purchasing needs to be understood from a circulation point of view.

“We’re trying to figure out what the right approach to converting Web buyers is, and other merchants may do it differently,” Buleza said. “We don’t want to not re-mail catalogs to one-time buyers, but we want to see how we can coordinate catalog promotions with e-mail promos. The ‘watch your box’ e-mails have helped pull customers back in.”

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