T. Shipley Hunts Snowbirds

Home office products and executive gifts cataloger T. Shipley doesn’t want to lose a sale just because a customer is wintering in a second home down south.

“We’re working on being able to send catalogs to customers’ summer or winter homes,” says president Tom Shipley. “And the return on investment can be big. So we send e-mails to the 40% of our customer base that we have e-mail addresses for and ask them, ‘Would you like us to forward your catalog while you’re on holiday?’ Most customers are very willing to give us that information.”

What’s more, Shipley says, it’s easy to change addresses twice a year for certain customers: “It’s only a [database] programming change, just an export function. And once it’s done, that’s it.” The Maitland, FL-based cataloger can program its database to automatically shift mailings to a second address on a specific date.

In addition, the company is assessing how much of an investment would be needed to set up e-mail contact information and manually enter it into the company’s database for all of its house file, not just those for whom it already has e-mail addresses. “We’ve found it’s mainly a matter of minimal additional manpower time,” Shipley says, “although we’re still analyzing our database to see how soon it will have the ability to do it. Our goal is to have this in place by the fourth quarter of the year.”