Regarding “Pushing (Out) the Envelope” (September 2000 issue) about eliminating the order-form envelope to save postage and paper costs, this issue deserves more consideration than many catalog companies are willing to give it. With the prevalent use of the phone and increasing use of the Internet for the placement of catalog orders, the traditional bind-in order form seems unnecessary to some. Actually, the reverse may be true more than ever before.
First, the traditional bind-in order form is a not-so-subtle request for an order. The device transforms a book with attractive product to a catalog asking for an order by making the order process all the more obvious.
Next, many customer questions that tie up catalog customer service reps during a phone order can be answered via the order form. Most information needed or sought by the phone customer can be supported by a quick reference to its presence on the order form.
A bind-in order form with an envelope provides not only a vehicle to place a mailed order but also an area for calculation and a place of record for the catalog customer.
The traditional bind-in order form can also be a natural conduit to the Internet if you devote a portion of this ordering device to the “how to” of ordering via your Website.
Other uses of the bind-in order form include coupon offerings, contest information, clearance intentions, and retail promotions, all of which would not have the same value elsewhere in the catalog, save the catalog cover itself. As to whether to include the envelope pocket with the bind-in order form, the cost should be weighed against the dollar value of the orders returned via the envelope. But just because the return envelope may not be used certainly does not mean the balance of the bind-in order form value has diminished as well. In fact, just the opposite may be happening.
Bottom line, the traditional bind-in order form can and should be a powerful instrument as an integral part of every catalog. Creativity pays, and creativity with the traditional bind-in order form can pay nicely.