Live from eTail 2005: Coldwater Creek’s Two-Channel Operation

Philadelphia—Don’t call Coldwater Creek a cataloger/retailer. As far as the women’s apparel merchant is concerned, it is “a two-channel company,” vice president of e-commerce Christine Laczai told attendees at eTail 2005 on Tuesday. “We have our stores, and we have the Web, and we allocate our catalog as advertising.”

Which is not to say that Coldwater, which began as a print cataloger in 1984, is negating the importance of its catalogs to its overall business. Far from reducing circulation, Laczai said, the company is mailing deeper to the store and Web customers in its house file. It has cut back mailings to prospects, however. Because only a small portion of apparel is bought via the Web or catalogs, the stores are the company’s focus for customer acquisition.

In keeping with the company’s decision that catalogs were no longer a commerce channel, Coldwater no longer has a catalog call center—or rather, its call center is now a “customer contact center,” Laczai said. In fact, more than half of the calls to the center aren’t catalog orders at all, she noted, but instead are questions regarding the Website or the stores.

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