Stacks and Stacks in the Mailbox

Many consumers find stacks and stacks of catalogs in their mailboxes; now they may find the Stacks and Stacks catalog as well. The Richmond, CA-based retailer of storage and organizational products mailed its first catalog in May.

Stacks and Stacks started as a store in Richmond in 1974; the company then added two more stores in the San Francisco area and in 1998 launched a Website. A catalog was always in the plans, says president Mel Ronick, but the number of requests from Website visitors persuaded him that now was the right time to launch one. “The incentive to expand into a catalog came from the maturation of the business, with the understanding that there is a need for synergy through as many channels as possible,” Ronick says.

The company first developed a 16-page advertising insert that was sent to local buyers and inserted in newspapers. But to help with the intricacies of prospecting and catalog design, Stacks and Stacks enlisted the help of San Francisco design agency Affiche and consultant Virginia Newman.

Stacks and Stacks mailed 110,000 48-page catalogs in May; 95% went to Web requesters and 5% to names from a cooperative database. Through early July, the company sent out an additional 40,000 books to requesters and inserted copies in product packages. Ronick plans to mail three editions this year and eventually increase to four editions a year. The next drop, in the fall, will go to 190,000 customers and prospects.

The company may add more pages to the catalog once it analyzes the data. “At this point everything is ROI-driven, so we are in a wait-and-see mode,” says Ronick. The catalog assortment of 400 SKUs is about 5% of the 6,000 items available on the Website. Product categories range from under-the-bed storage to kitchen appliances.

So far the catalog has generated an average order of $95, higher than that of the Website. Though he won’t disclose any figures, Ronick estimates that the catalog channel will account for 5%-10% of the company’s total sales by the end of the year.

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