It is a small world after all: Two catalogs selling gifts made by artisans throughout the world recently debuted.
Eziba.com dropped its first catalog in October 2000; Novica.com launched its print book a month later. Both companies started as online marketers – Eziba in November 1999 and Novica in November 1998. And both the North Adams, MA-based Eziba and the Los Angeles-based Novica make a point of selling authentic, handcrafted home furnishings, objets d’art, apparel, and jewelry from countries such as Morocco, Myanmar, and Ecuador.
Back-end differences Dealing with overseas artisans, many of them from remote villages, has its challenges. For one thing, quantities tend to be limited. For another, the infrastructure to transport the items from the artisans to the States sometimes has to be built from scratch.
Novica ships most of its merchandise directly from the country of origin to the customer, says president/cofounder Roberto Milk. “We specify `Shipped from USA’ for items we have in stock in our Los Angeles warehouse. Otherwise we say in the catalog and on the Website that shipping will take four to six weeks because the products are coming from the regions,” he explains.
To oversee the overseas fulfillment, Novica has more than 200 employees in offices throughout the world “in areas that have strong craft traditions,” Milk says, such as Bali, Peru, Thailand, and Ghana. All told, Novica works with about 1,700 artisans, “and we hope to work with 5,000 by the end of next year,” he adds.
Eziba, on the other hand, fulfills its orders from a third-party warehouse in Hanover, PA, “for quick delivery,” says vice president of marketing Cindy Marshall. “Customers on the Web want their orders fast.” The cataloger works with 1,500 artisans in 64 countries.
Eziba mailed the debut edition of its catalog to 500,000 prospects from 50 rented lists plus approximately 50,000 names from its house file. Earlier in the year, Marshall says, the company had used postcard mailings to test 80 catalog lists. The response rate to the catalog was “way above” the 0.7% response the company had anticipated, and at $120, the average catalog order was 40% higher than planned. The company plans to mail eight to 10 editions in 2001.
Milk won’t disclose how many copies of its 44-page inaugural catalog Novica mailed, though he says that it mailed to both house file names and prospects from rented catalog lists. And while he won’t disclose response rates or order sizes, Milk notes that the average catalog order is about 50% higher than the average online order. Novica intends to mail three editions this year.