Ring in the new

When I joined this publication in December 1995, it was still called Catalog Age, and it was my husband who worked at a magazine with “multichannel” in the title — although his publication didn’t cover direct marketing but rather cable television.

Back then Multichannel Merchant — er, Catalog Age — had just recently launched a quarterly department called “The Electronic Catalog”; e-mail lists had not yet hit the rental market; Abacus and Z-24, both of which had been founded just a few years earlier, were the only commercial cooperative databases around.

I’ll admit that this line of reflection has made me feel old. But reviewing the radical changes the industry has undergone in just one decade is galvanizing as well: It makes me realize that it’s impossible to get bored or complacent here.

And so we’re unveiling several additional e-newsletters: Magilla Marketing, by editor-at-large Ken Magill, launched last month. A coproduction with sister publication Direct, Magilla Marketing enables Ken to offer up his inimitable take on e-mail marketing. And later this month we’re debuting Contact Center Advisor, a companion e-zine to O+F Advisor that, as the name indicates, will focus exclusively on contact center tactics and technology. The bridge between the front end and the back end of the multichannel experience, the contact center is now more than ever a keystone of a successful enterprise, so it’s time that we’ve dedicated an entire newsletter to it.

You can sign up for the newsletters at our Website, www.MultichannelMerchant.com — and while you’re there, check out another new feature, Ask the Expert. Got a question? Simply e-mail it to one of the featured experts, and you’ll get an answer. It’s kind of like a consultant on retainer, but without having to pay a fee.

Another new Web feature we’ll be unveiling any day now is the MCM blog (“blog” — now that’s a word that didn’t exist in December 1995). We’re planning to kick it off just prior to the National Retail Federation “Big Show,” which begins Jan. 16, so that we can provide an on-the-scene experience for those who can’t journey to Javits Center in Manhattan for the event. Our goal, though, is to continue the blog throughout the year as a two-way dialogue with all of you.

Normally I dislike letters from the editor that focus on what’s new at the publication rather than what’s new in the industry. But in this case, what’s new here at Multichannel Merchant is a byproduct of what’s new among multichannel merchants.

Samuel Johnson said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” I can’t argue with him there, but I like to think that if the man of letters were working today, he’d also say, “When an editor is tired of covering multichannel merchants, he is tired of editing.”

P.S. — On the topic of changes, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the name of the Annual Catalog Awards and I.Merchant Awards has changed, to the MCM Awards. In addition to updating the name, we’ve realigned the categories of entries to place equal emphasis on print catalogs, Websites, and the synergies between them. We’ve also added a new category and modified the fee structure. For information, visit www.MultichannelMerchant.com/toolbox/awards or contact Heather Retzlaff at hretzlaff@primediabusiness.com or 203-358-4233. But hurry: The final deadline for entries is Jan. 24.

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