Saks back in the catalog business

Saks.com, the direct division of Birmingham, AL-based retailer Saks is mailing print catalogs again. The company quietly unveiled the first Saks.com print catalog this past September. An 88-page spring edition of the apparel and accessories book dropped in late February/early March to an undisclosed amount of existing Saks.com clients and prospects. Two more editions will mail in the spring, and three catalogs are scheduled for fall 2006.

The catalogs are part of larger initiative at Saks to lure back 35- to 50-year-old women and move away from its previous strategy of going after younger buyers. The print books are also designed to drive traffic to the Website, says spokesperson Andree Corroon. Saks.com is one of the fastest growing divisions of the business, she adds.

Saks had ceased catalog mailings in 2001 when it scrapped its Folio book and sold its menswear brand Bullock & Jones. Corroon says that the latest print initiative is not an attempt to revive Folio.

But the fact that Saks is starting to mail catalogs again a few years after it shut them down “is an indication that the company may have overestimated the power of the Web as a stand-alone entity,” says Michael Grant, president of Scarsdale, NY-based marketing consultancy Michael Grant Direct. The launch of the print catalogs “speaks to the power of a multichannel model, that the power of the three channels working together is greater than the three channels working alone.”

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