Tales From the Front

The husband of a Multichannel Merchant staffer ordered (or so he thought) a jar of Basil & Cabernet vinegar “pearls” in dipping oil from the Napa Style Website. The item was backordered for several weeks, and when it finally arrived — on Christmas Eve — it was not the Basil & Cabernet but the Smoky Paprika & Sherry vinegar pearls. To add insult to injury, the jar was not sealed, so the oily contents had leaked all over the bubble wrap. A customer service rep told the husband that Napa Style would send another jar. Could Napa Style send the Basil & Cabernet as a substitute instead of the Smoky Paprika & Sherry version, he asked? No dice — though the items were the same price, there could be no substitutions, he was told. This seemed a bit unyielding, considering the initial item was backordered and arrived damaged. Plus, the rep said the merchant could not accept back any food items, so he couldn’t return it for a refund. The only option was to accept another jar of a condiment that neither he nor his wife was interested in. Needless to say, the experience left the customer with a bad taste in his mouth — much like the Smoky Paprika & Sherry vinegar pearls.

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

Tales from the front

PLEASE SOBER UP

BEFORE SIGNING HERE

A Multichannel Merchant staffer recently placed an order with wine seller Geerlings & Wade. About three business days after placing the order online, the staffer received a prerecorded phone message from United Parcel Service. The message stated that the order would be delivered the next day, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and that an adult had to be there to sign for it. Makes sense — after all, you can’t have minors signing for alcohol. But apparently you can’t have drunks signing for booze either: A sticker affixed to the box said, “Do not deliver to an intoxicated person.” Good thing it wasn’t a three-martini lunch day for the staffer.

LET’S HEAR FROM YOU!

Let us know how we’re doing.

Send us any comments on recent articles or issues, or perhaps a multichannel shopping tale you’d like to share.

HOW TO CONTACT US:

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com

Phone: 203-358-9900

Fax: 203-358-5823

Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Box 4949 Stamford, CT 06907

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

Tales From the Front

IT’S JULY. NOT CHRISTMAS

WE KNOW A LOT OF RETAILERS TRY to rush the holiday season, but we don’t have to like it. A National Wildlife Federation catalog received in mid-July was a big disappointment: The cover says summer with its cover shot of three bird houses affixed to a leafy tree. But nearly half of the 40-page book — 18 pages — is devoted to selling holiday cards. We know the NWF is a noble cause, and maybe the organization mails only one catalog a year, so this is when it has to promote its seasonal cards. But it’s not even close to the season, as far as we’re concerned, so there’s no way we’re buying cards now. Or even thinking about them.

IKEA NEVER GETS OLD

JUST AS THE NEW IKEA CATALOG HIT HOME the first week in August, photos of a 1965 IKEA catalog were making the rounds on several blogs. (A sewing blogger first posted the pictures; apparently her mother has saved all of her IKEA catalogs.) The dog-eared, Swedish-language catalog shows sleek black leather armchairs, orange-upholstered sofas and dining sets. As you might expect from 1965, some of the color combinations are beyond garish, and there’s shag carpet everywhere (even in the dining areas — yuck). But it’s incredible how well many of the company’s furniture lines and designs have held up over the years. We wonder how well the actual furniture has held up after 44 years.

LET’S HEAR FROM YOU!

Let us know how we’re doing.

Send us any comments on recent articles or issues, or perhaps a multichannel shopping tale you’d like to share.

HOW TO CONTACT US:

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com

Phone: 203-358-9900

Fax: 203-358-5823

Letter: 11 River Bend
Drive South, Box 4949
Stamford, CT 06907

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

amozon.com skips holiday upgrade

Online behemoth Amazon.com aced the holiday, with glowing reports that this was its best-selling season ever. One Multichannel Merchant staffer decided to test the company’s holiday delivery policy by placing an order the evening of Dec. 21 and not upgrading to expedited shipping. Would Amazon throw the late orderer a bone and deliver the package on Dec. 24 anyway? No. But the staffer’s spouse got a Christmas bonus when the order finally arrived Dec. 27.

Staffers cite swift regifts

You know you’ve regifted something at one time or another, so don’t judge. At a recent story meeting two Multichannel Merchant staffers reported two recent holiday regift experiences. One staffer boldly regifted a just-received Harry & David fruitcake; another was regifted with a box of Swiss Colony chocolates. How does he know he was regifted? The guest who brought them over to a party hurriedly put them on the dining room table — before anyone would notice that the shrink-wrap from the box was missing. Remember: What goes around comes around.

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

The big “O” delivers

A Multichannel Merchant staffer ordered a rug from the Overstock.com Website for the first time on a Saturday night in late November. Not only did the rug arrive the following Tuesday, it was delivered a day before the merchant’s ship confirmation e-mail hit the staffer’s inbox. What’s more, the shipping was just $2.95 — the Website’s standard fee.

CONTACT US…

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com

Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823

Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907 or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

An uncommonly good practice

After placing an order with the Uncommon Goods Website, a Multichannel Merchant staff member discovered that the gifts merchant will send a nonprofit organization a $1 donation as a result of the order. Many marketers will donate to a cause, but what’s nice about Uncommon Goods’ Better to Give program is that it includes four nonprofits for customers to choose from, including Americares and Defenders of Wildlife. Once the order is confirmed at the end of the checkout process, a browser window prompts the customer to choose an organization to receive the donation on the shopper’s behalf. Not only is it sometimes better to give than receive — it’s nice to have a say in where the money goes.

Pantsed by Victoria’s Secret service

A Multichannel Merchant staffer — and regular Victoria’s Secret catalog customer — placed an online order with the apparel merchant a week prior to leaving on vacation in August. She was informed that due to distribution center improvements, no express service was available and her order wouldn’t arrive until after she returned from her two-week trip. Upon receiving the order, she discovered one ordered item missing, and a pair of pink panties (in the wrong size) in its stead. The customer service rep apologized and said not to worry about returning the unordered item. But express shipping still wasn’t available because the merchant’s DC upgrade wasn’t yet complete. The missing item didn’t show up for another three weeks (although it was sent UPS Second Day — 19 days after the reorder — at no charge). This is certainly a cautionary tale about not letting operations “upgrades” downgrade your service. We also suggest that Victoria’s Secret try a little harder to appease customers in the wake of such serious service snafus — a pair of underpants that don’t fit is not going to cut it.

CONTACT US…

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com

Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823

Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907 or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

Tales from the Front

Home sweet home

While we normally can’t afford the wares in the Williams-Sonoma Home catalog, we were recently inspired to splurge on some pillowcases that were on sale on the merchant’s Website. When the order arrived, we were delighted — not only with the cases but also with the gorgeous product packaging. Each case came in a heavy-duty clear plastic package with a high-quality brass zipper — the toggle of which was the company’s signature pineapple motif. The package had pocket sleeves so that if you were to store something in it, you could slip in your own labels. Better still, tucked inside the box was a small, jasmine-scented guest soap. Hey, sometimes you get more than what you pay for!

Getting to know you

Most catalogers want their employees to deliver service on a personal level, but you might say gifts and home goods merchant Wisteria takes the concept to an extreme. A Multichannel Merchant staffer recently placed an order with Wisteria; inside the order box was a postcard with this message:

Hi! My name is Joisy. I am married and have three children. On my free time, I enjoy going to the zoo with my family and playing soccer. Consequently, my favorite sport is soccer and my favorite team is La Selection de El Salvador, which is also where I am originally from. I enjoy working at Wisteria because everybody is treated equally. I love Winnie the Pooh and my favorite colors are pink and purple. I hope you enjoy your purchase! Uh, thanks, Joisy, and go La Selection!

CONTACT US…

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com

Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823

Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907 or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

Tales from the Front

Monastery mailer and the case of missing ropes

Multichannel Merchant reader Will Keller, owner of Cleveland-based gifts cataloger Monastery Greetings, wrote in with the following tale:

Sometime during our busy fall season, a customer placed an order for several items. Included in this order were two Orthodox Prayer Ropes. Shortly after receiving the shipment, she called and told us the ropes were not in the box. Our shipping department was absolutely sure they were packed in the shipment. We went through the drill (Do you still have the box? Did you dump out the packing material?) without success. We have a “customer is always right” policy and shipped the replacements at no charge. About a month later, we received the attached note, along with a check:

“I’m truly sorry for any inconvenience also. Our resident four-legged friend decided to take the prayer ropes that you had sent the first time to her special corner where she hides her ‘finds.’ I found them after I had called you. Enclosed you will find a check for the two you re-sent as well as your extra shipping charge…”

Good gifts come in tiny packages

As you can imagine, our mailboxes are chock full of catalogs, and some stand out more than others. Recently we’ve seen more smaller-size gift books from established mailers. For instance, Pottery Barn mailed an 8″ × 8″ 52-page Gift Book edition for the holiday season, while Room Service Home dropped a 64-page Little Holiday Gift Notebook measuring 5-5/16″ × 8-1/4″. The most recent — and one of the cutest — we’ve seen is Smith & Hawken’s February 2007 Garden Party issue. The 24-page 6″ × 7-2/8″ book is just adorable and really got us thinking about spring. Let the garden party begin!

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

Tales from the Front

Hardly Amazonian service

A friend of a Multichannel Merchant staffer placed an order with bookselling behemoth Amazon.com in December. The books she ordered were for Christmas gifts, so she was a little concerned when they didn’t arrive. When she called Amazon to complain, the merchant insisted that the books were indeed delivered. The customer called her local post office, and a clerk also told her that the parcel had been delivered — and that the postman remembered dropping it off. That’s nice for the postman, but the customer never got her order, so she was never able to give her gifts, and now (as of press time at least) Amazon was not offering any replacement or refund. Bah, humbug!

A not-so-enlightening rating

A Multichannel Merchant staffer recently placed an order on the Website of CSN Lighting. When shopping for solar lighting, she found that products had two five-point rating systems: one for “construction quality,” with a rating from “economical” to “premium,” and one for “shipping damage,” with a possible rating of “rarely” to “occasionally.” This type of rating could be helpful when comparing items — but the staffer noticed that all the products she viewed had a shipping-damage rating of “rarely” and a construction quality rating one point away from “premium.” There were some items that had the full “premium” rating on quality, but since every item she viewed had the same “rarely” rating for shipping damage, she didn’t put much faith in the ratings overall.

Long days’ journey

Two Multichannel Merchant staffers placed a joint order with the J. Jill Website on Jan. 25. We decided to track the order’s progression from the apparel merchant’s Tilton, NH, distribution center to our Stamford, CT, office.

  • 1/26/07 9:17 p.m. Transit through the DHL sort facility in Providence, RI

  • 1/29/07 11:31 p.m. Transit through the DHL sort facility in Allentown, PA

  • 1/30/07 7:25 a.m. Arrived at the DHL facility in South Norwalk, CT

  • 1/30/07 2:11 p.m. Arrived at the Post Office in South Norwalk, CT

  • 1/31/07 11:00 a.m. Order delivered to Multichannel Merchant office in Stamford, CT

We’re not sure why the package had to go through Allentown — it was halfway home when it arrived in Providence! But it did arrive on schedule, so we guess we can’t complain.

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Sending the wrong signal

Gifts cataloger Signals evidently tried to reactivate some dormant customers this holiday season. How do we know this? A Multichannel Merchant staffer’s mother received a copy of Signals’ Holiday Gift Edition, and she hasn’t made a purchase from the mailer in about a decade. In fact, the staffer’s mother hasn’t bought from any catalogs lately, as she passed away nearly nine years ago. Signals, might we suggest making a New Year’s resolution to clean up your list?

Typo nearly gets J. Jill the boot

A Multichannel Merchant staffer was paging through a recent J. Jill catalog when a pair of boots caught her eye. Only one problem: The catalog copy listed the heel height as 3/4″, and the staffer was looking for a higher heel. But in the photograph, the heel appeared to be higher, so the staffer went online to check. Sure enough, the Website copy lists the heel height as 2-1/4″ — quite a big difference. The confusion about the boot heel’s actual height was enough to make the staffer hold off on ordering them (though she still really wants them). We wonder how many other J. Jill catalog customers also decided these boots were made for walkin’ away from.

CONTACT US…

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com

Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823

Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907-0242 or visit us on the Web: www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Order does not go swimmingly

A Multichannel Merchant reader was looking for swimsuits for an upcoming vacation. She found two on the Website of As We Change and placed an order for the suits and several other items. She didn’t receive any order confirmation until two days later, when the company sent an e-mail saying only that the order had shipped. The order arrived about a week later, minus the two swimsuits, which according to the packing slip were backordered. The customer called the company to ask when the suits would ship, and a rep told her they would not be shipping at all, as they were sold out. Ugh! Next time, how about sending an e-mail notification that the items are backordered or sold out, or better still, alerting the customer when she places the order?

Now that’s what we call delivery confirmation

A Multichannel Merchant staffer was expecting a package shipped overnight to her home via United Parcel Service. The day the parcel went out, UPS sent the staffer an e-mail at work through its Quantum View tracking service, complete with the tracking and reference numbers — nothing terribly unusual in that. But the following day, the staffer received another e-mail from UPS confirming that the package had been delivered to her home at 1:03 p.m. This level of communication really eliminates any “is it here yet?” wondering on the customer’s part.

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Sisterhood of the traveling pants

A Multichannel Merchant staffer placed an order at a J. Jill store in mid-June for several sale garments that were on backorder. One backordered item was a pair of pants that matched a top she had bought in the store, so she was eager to receive them, even if it meant waiting a few months. In early August the staffer received an e-mail from the women’s apparel merchant saying that the pants would be further delayed until early September; a week later she received another e-mail stating that the pants were no longer available. Curses! Having already bought — and worn — the matching top, the staffer was determined to get those pants, so she ordered a different size online, hoping they would fit. They didn’t, so she returned them to the store and asked the sales clerk to check the company’s inventory again, to see if perhaps a pair in her size had been returned. Lo and behold, there was a pair, so she quickly placed the order and held her breath until the pants arrived at her door. They did, and the MCM staffer is delighted with her ensemble.

This deal wasn’t in the bag

Another Multichannel Merchant staff member opted to buy a North Face backpack from eBags, as opposed to one of myriad other Websites, because the merchant was offering free shipping on the item. Before placing the order, though, the staffer went to one of the online coupon sites to see if eBags was running any other promotions. Indeed it was: $10 off any backpack purchase of $35 or more. The staffer clicked the electronic coupon and was directed to the eBags site. Alas, the discount didn’t apply to North Face items — but at least she’d scored free shipping, right? Wrong. As she checked out online, the staffer saw that she was being charged shipping after all. She e-mailed eBags; several hours later she received a reply that read in part: “Please note that as per our policy discounts cannot be combined. Our records indicate that you have placed the above order using the coupon ‘$10 OFF 35 Backpacks’ and so the shipping charge discount did not apply on this order. Unfortunately the item you ordered is a nondiscountable item and hence the coupon you used also did not apply on this order.” If the discount coupon didn’t apply, how could this be an instance of combining discounts? Regardless, eBags said that “as a one-time exception” it would waive the shipping costs — in other words, it would honor the applicable discount it had promised in the first place. Thanks, I guess.

CONTACT US…

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com
Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823
Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907
or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Wisteria gets wistful

A Multichannel Merchant staffer in late July ordered a blue bedding set from the Wisteria Website as part of the Dallas-based home decor merchant’s warehouse moving sale. A few days later, the staffer received a message on her answering machine explaining that the item was no longer available due to a miscount at the warehouse. The message also encouraged her to call the Wisteria customer service department. She did, and the customer service rep she spoke with was so kind and apologetic (even going so far as to say “We let you down…”) that the staffer felt sorry for making Wisteria feel so bad. She wasn’t sorry enough to take the rep up on his upsell attempt of the same sheet set in orange, but the staffer will remain a loyal Wisteria customer.

LETTERS

Incorrect about address correction feature

While I enjoyed Mark Del Franco’s story “Trimming Your Transportation Costs” in the July issue, I want to address an error in the address correction section. United Parcel Service charges $10 for address corrections on air express, but the charge is $5 for ground. And I have to add that these represent significant costs. If you don’t believe me, I’ll take you to one of our package centers and show you the clerks on the phones calling all over the place to find the correct address. Then there’s the expense of the second go-around on the delivery attempt.

The point is that we really do try everything to get the package delivered, and there’s a cost associated. We don’t just see a wrong address, slap on a charge, and then send it back to the shipper. (If we do have to send it back, that costs too.)

Speaking of billing, we have a tool that helps customers analyze their bill. In fact, it’s called the billing analysis tool. It breaks out more than 180 billing components, converts currencies from around the world (if you had shipments in Germany, for example), breaks out your third-party billing so that you can see your inbound supplier shipping charges, and so on. It’s pretty cool, and it helps our customers do the things your other sources say they can do. In fact, the article advises, “Evaluate transportation costs on a monthly and quarterly basis.” With the billing analysis tool, they can evaluate them on a weekly basis.
Steve Holmes, spokesperson
United Parcel Service

CONTACT US…

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com

Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823

Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907
or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Not fazed by power outage

On July 24 a Multichannel Merchant staffer received the following e-mail from gifts, jewelry, and tabletop items cataloger/retailer Michael C. Fina: “We apologize for any system problems you may have experienced that were caused by the recent ConEd power outages affecting Queens, NY — the location of our electronic servers. This affected service in our stores, on the phone and on our website. We will be contacting everyone individually who had any interaction with Michael C. Fina to ensure that their order or registry updates are accurately processed.” Fina actually got off easy: While many customers in Queens had no power for a week, a spokesperson for the merchant said the electricity at its operation was restored in 36 hours.

Bauer makes bargain-shopping easier

We love a bargain, and there are plenty to be found online. But searching through scads of sale merchandise and broken stock for your size or preferred color can be a real drag. Eddie Bauer has simplified the outlet-shopping experience online with its Bargain Finder tool, which promises “Bargain hunting…minus the hunting.” You can choose a category of sale merchandise from Men’s, Women’s, Footwear, or Other, and then narrow down your search by selecting from any combination of size, color, style — even by percentage off and price range. We love this feature because it saves us frustration and time — precious time we can use to look for more bargains.

Bummin’ on Boden

A Multichannel Merchant staffer saw an item she wanted in a co-worker’s catalog from U.K. apparel merchant Boden and decided to order via the Website. To the staffer’s delight, the shirt was on sale. To her disappointment, a few screen clicks revealed that Boden had sold out of the item in all sizes and colors. If you know you don’t have any left, you might put a banner over the item instead of letting hopeful customers click to select their preferred color only to find you have none available at all. Another suggestion to the good folks over at Boden: How about investing in more inventory?!

CONTACT US…

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com
Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823
Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907 or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Not pros on service

In early June, a Multichannel Merchant staffer was having trouble finding a part on auto supplies Website ProStreetonline.com. The staffer used the site’s tool for e-mailing inquiries to ask if the company carried the part. Because Pro Street’s site made a point of saying, “We will usually return your inquiry within the hour, sometimes in a few hours, but usually never more than one business day,” the staffer was surprised that nobody had responded after more than a week. A second inquiry was e-mailed in mid-June; the staffer has yet to hear from Pro Street.

Outdoor art attack

After perusing some of the home products catalogs this year, we think the trend of furnishings for outdoor spaces has gotten a bit out of hand. Here’s one example: the frame-free, washable outdoor art sold in the spring Solutions catalog. These digital reproductions of museum and gallery originals are printed on UV-protected material, so exposure to direct sunlight and water is no problem. But why do we feel the need to decorate the yard? If you think your outdoor space needs sprucing up, try planting a bush.

Promote your peanuts

A Multichannel Merchant staffer placed an order with home products merchant Portico. The order arrived two days later in a corrugated box with packing peanuts. Being familiar with dunnage, the staffer could tell that the peanuts were the biodegradable kind, so she knew she could toss them into the kitchen sink with some water and watch them dissolve into a foamy sludge. We suggest Portico include something in the box explaining that the peanuts can be disposed of this way, or at least assure customers that the dunnage is biodegradable and will dissolve.

CONTACT US…

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com
Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823
Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907 or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Swiss Colony helping to carve out career paths

Good help is always hard to find, but to make it a little easier, multititle mailer The Swiss Colony is testing a career exploration program targeting local high school students. The Monroe, WI-based merchant in May selected 12 participants for the program. From June 19 through late August, the students will work four days each week in the company’s bakery operations or contact center. One day a week students will shadow workers in various areas from marketing and merchandising to creative and fulfillment. Swiss Colony, which hopes students will continue the program during their summer breaks from college, plans to expand the program with more positions and allow students to spend more time in specific areas of interest. The company, which sells apparel, food, home goods, and gifts through catalogs including Midnight Velvet, Monroe & Main, and Ginny’s, has worked with local schools for years on various programs, but this initiative is a big step in presenting direct marketing as a career choice.

Buffeting candy sales?

Here’s one way to boost sales in a candy business that you happen to own: snack on the company’s goodies while fielding questions during your annual shareholders meeting. That’s exactly what Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger — chairman and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway — do with See’s Candies. According to reports, Buffet and Munger go through two boxes each of See’s peanut brittle in about 90 minutes. Buffet bought the San Francisco-based See’s — at Munger’s urging — in 1972 for $25 million. See’s operates 200 stores, mostly in California, a catalog, and a Website, as well as seasonal shops for the holidays. How big a boost does See’s get from Buffet’s endorsement? See’s sold about $80,000 worth of candy immediately following Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting this past May.

Cataloger/chef whips up a prize dinner

Winning a dinner cooked by the head of a catalog company may not sound like such a big deal — unless that catalog is NapaStyle. The Napa, CA-based merchant was founded in November 2000 by Michael Chiarello, host of the Food Network’s Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello and Fine Living’s NapaStyle with Michael Chiarello. As a top prize in a sweepstakes offered by Italian foods brand Buitoni, Chiarello prepared a four-course Italian dinner party for 10 for the lucky winner in Virginia’s Stafford County. What did the guests get to eat? Bruschetta with homemade mozzarella; a salad of endive, arugula, spinach, and tortellini; fennel-rubbed chicken breasts with asparagus and potatoes; and olive-oil cakes topped with huckleberry preserves or lemon marmalade. As Chiarello’s fellow food network star Rachael Ray would say, Yum-mo. Where do we sign up for the next contest?

Barnie’s talks Turkey

Orlando, FL-based cataloger/retailer Barnie’s Coffee and Tea Co. in May opened its first franchised store in Ankara, Turkey. The company plans to open 60 more stores in Turkey, primarily in Istanbul, beginning this fall. We are delighted that Barnie’s is such a success in international markets; it also has stores in places like Ireland, Kuwait, Jordan, and India. Considering that Turkey is known for its elaborately prepared ultra-strong java, it sounds a bit like taking coals to Newcastle to us. But if Barnie’s can sell tea in Ireland, we guess it knows what it’s doing.

The devil made them do it

Some folks spent June 6 — 06/06/06 — waiting for the world to end because 666 is the “number of the beast” in the Book of Revelation, the final book in the New Testament, about the end of the world. But a few marketers reportedly tried to capitalize on the date. San Luis Obispo, CA-based Parable Group, which sells Christian-theme products, was said to be selling paperback copies of the “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins for $6.66 on June 6. When we went onto Parable’s site that day, however, the paperbacks were selling for $3.00-$12.97 — but not one was going for $6.66.

Froggy went a shootin’

The cover of a recent catalog from Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear & Apparel includes a sketch of a rifle-toting, cigar-smoking frog apparently heading out to hunt some ducks. Kevin’s explains on the inside front cover that the frog picture was from a 19th-century advertising agency. The original ad declared “A hunter will never think of home while he has plenty of ‘WILSON’S COOKED CORNED BEEF.’” Kevin’s has cleverly imprinted the frog portrait on the back of a T-shirt — without the plug for Wilson’s.

LETTERS

Tax agreement not so streamlined

I very much enjoyed Mark Poirier’s article “A taxing concern” (June issue). But it might give a reader the impression that 42 states have in fact adopted the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement (SSTA), which is not the case. About a dozen states have passed all portions of the agreement and are considered in full compliance. A few other states have passed portions of the SSTA but not all. In fact Utah, which had passed the agreement with a delayed effective date, has since backed away from full compliance. Large states like California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida have yet to adopt the agreement. There does not appear to be any significant effort in California, Texas, or Illinois to move toward compliance any time soon.

The original effort to streamline multiple sales and use-tax laws in order to simplify a complex system has merit. But the agreement in its current form does not live up to the original goal.

John Kroll, executive director
Coalition for Appropriate Sales Tax Law Enactment


CONTACT US…

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com

Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823

Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907 or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Venus models don’t wrestle with this offer

We’ve said it before, but you never know where catalog modeling might lead you. According to newsletter Wrestling Observer, John Laurinaitis, the vice president of talent relations for World Wrestling Entertainment (and a former professional wrestler known as Johnny Ace), has signed on two 19-year-old women he spotted in a Venus Swimwear catalog. Laurinaitis called their modeling agency and offered the two women contracts. Although neither “Barbie” nor “Victoria” had any interest in becoming a professional wrestler, they both accepted the offer on the advice of their modeling agency. It’s hard to say if the models-cum-wrestlers are ever going to make it into the ring: Wrestling Observer described Barbie as “a deer in the headlights” at the Ohio Valley Wrestling organization’s headquarters in Louisville, KY, and both girls are said to be “totally lost.”

Private dick has catalog roots

If you follow entertainment news, you’ve surely heard of Anthony Pellicano, the private investigator to the stars who was indicted in connection with an FBI investigation into illegal wiretaps and extortion. The feds in 2002 suspected Pellicano of arranging for a dead fish, a rose, and a note that read “Stop” to be left on the car of a reporter who was digging into the background of actor Steven Seagal. A raid on Pellicano’s office found large sums of cash and weapons, which landed him in jail. The indictment has Hollywood’s rich and famous shaking in their boots, as he worked for years with some of the industry’s biggest entertainment lawyers and no doubt has plenty of dirt on many celebrities. The Chicago Tribune did a little digging into the would-be wiseguy’s own background and revealed that Pellicano — who back then called himself Tony Fortune — used to be a collection man for the Spiegel catalog.

Entertainment Earth turns 10

We received a copy of the Spring 2006 edition of the Entertainment Earth catalog and noted that the North Hollywood, CA-based company is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Launched on April 1, 1996, the collectibles marketer started as a Website and later added a print catalog. To celebrate its birthday, Entertainment Earth has teamed with vendor Gentle Giant to offer an exclusive item: a mini-bust depicting Star Wars‘ Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader. While collectors of all things Star Wars are sure to be intrigued (don’t wait, kids — only 5,000 pieces are available), the exclusive is a bit of a bust if you don’t know your Sith from your C3P0. But the anniversary catalog has a host of other fun items, including a fridge magnet/bottle opener shaped like Stewie of Family Guy, a leopard-print mini bowling bag/purse, and an Albert Einstein action figure. Happy birthday, Entertainment Earth!

Video killed the stereo star

San Francisco-based high-tech gifts and gadgets merchant The Sharper Image will be the first U.S. retailer to promote eyewear for mobile video applications. Sharper Image is selling DV920 Video Eyewear from Rochester, NY-based Icuiti Corp. You wear the DV920 like a regular pair of sunglasses and through the two full-color microdisplays can watch streaming video on mobile phones, movie playback from portable DVD players, video podcasts, and TV shows from a video iPod. Why would you don a pair of video goggles? The manufacturer claims the video eyewear “enables a private, big-screen viewing experience that fits in a pocket or purse, and eliminates the drawback of mobile content viewing on a tiny built-in screen.” Maybe these will be the next big thing, but for now we have just two words: nerd alert!

No cart abandonment here

We were surfing the Web for gardening supplies and landed on the site of Gardener’s Supply Co. The Burlington, VT-based merchant’s home page had a banner that read, “Win a FREE garden cart!” When we clicked the “Enter now” link, a pop-up window asked for our e-mail address to enter for a chance at one of 10 garden carts. At the bottom of the window, it said, “All entries will receive our FREE e-newsletter.” What a quick and easy way to collect e-mail addresses while offering something of value — both the chance to win a cart and the cleverly positioned newsletter.

Package interruptus

A Multichannel Merchant staffer had ordered some fragrance items from Caswell-Massey. A regular customer of the Edison, NJ-based toiletries merchant, the staffer knew approximately when to expect the package and was surprised when it didn’t arrive. She continued to look for the parcel for about a week after she had expected it to arrive, but still it didn’t come. Finally the staffer was going out with her husband and when getting into his car she noticed a box with a familiar logo: Caswell-Massey. Apparently her husband had picked up the parcel on his way out of the house and left it in his car for a week. Oops.

Ad is a blemish on Delia’s catalog

We know that teen apparel merchant Delia’s and sister title Alloy accept advertisements in their catalogs. Still, it was a little jarring to be paging through the Summer 2006 edition of Delia’s and see a full-page ad for BenzaClin prescription acne medicine in the middle of the book. The ad itself wasn’t so bad, but the full page of text specifying the topical gel’s warnings, precautions, adverse reactions, and so on was just plain ugly. Sure, we know that the manufacturer is required to include this info, but teens aren’t going to read it, and it cost Delia’s a full page of selling space. We’re no doctor, but perhaps prescription drug ads are not recommended for apparel catalogs.

CONTACT US…

E-mail: melissa.dowling@penton.com
Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823
Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907
or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Misfire gets our Irish up

A Multichannel Merchant staffer recently received an unsolicited copy of Blue & Gold Traditions, a catalog of licensed merchandise from the University of Notre Dame. Only one problem: Not only did the staffer not attend Notre Dame, she doesn’t even know anybody who did. But the staffer had purchased from an Irish-themed gifts catalog in the past year, and Blue & Gold must have rented that mailer’s list. There probably is a fairly strong affinity between Irish-themed gifts buyers and Notre Dame fans, but not in this case. What’s more, even though we understand how the direct marketing industry works, we were still slightly annoyed to receive a catalog we had no use for — imagine how irritated someone who didn’t know how Blue & Gold got his name would feel.

Was free S&H a gift or gaffe?

Many merchants were promoting free shipping and handling early in the holiday season, so the fact that one Multichannel Merchant staffer received free S&H on a fall order is not that unusual. Except that the staffer doesn’t know if the free S&H is a bonus or a mistake on the merchant’s part. The staffer placed an order from the Website of 10 Crescent Lane — Home Depot’s new upscale home goods title — in early November. The site indicated that the item was in stock and would ship immediately, and it detailed the order total with tax and S&H. About a week later the staffer received an e-mail saying that the order had shipped and provided the amount that her credit card would be charged — but the total did not include the S&H. The order arrived two days later, and the staffer’s credit card was not charged the S&H. We’re not sure what happened, but we have some advice for 10 Crescent Lane: If you did mean to waive the S&H for some reason — perhaps to make up for the slight shipping delay — thanks, but call attention to the fact next time. If you didn’t, uh, sorry, but you might want to examine your systems.

CONTACT US…

E-mail: mdowling@primediabusiness.com
Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823
Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907
or visit us on the Web at www.MultichannelMerchant.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

A shoe-in for super service

A Multichannel Merchant staffer found a pair of sandals she wanted to buy from the Aerosoles catalog. She went to the shoe merchant’s Website, and to her delight the sandals were on sale. But when she clicked on the page to buy it, a message came up that said: “Due to high demand on this item, quantities are limited. Unfortunately we cannot take your order at this time on the web…” The message invited customers to call Aerosoles’ toll-free number and have a rep try to locate the shoes in one of its stores. The staffer made the call, and a rep found the sandals in a store in a nearby state. The rep took all the order information and estimated that the shoes would arrive in 10-14 business days. The shoes were delivered three days later via FedEx, and the staffer was kicking up her heels.

Bedmaker makes our day

Sometimes it really pays to catalog shop — or at least, to request catalogs. After shopping online and visiting the New York showroom of beds manufacturer Charles P. Rogers, a Multichannel Merchant staffer ordered a bed from the showroom in late July. She had previously requested a catalog from the company, which arrived after she placed her order; the catalog cover had a dot whack promoting a free shipping offer. The staffer called the showroom to ask if she could apply the promotion code to her order, and the company agreed to credit the shipping — a generous offer on a wrought-iron bed frame. Thanks, Charles P. Rogers, and sweet dreams!

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Oh behave, Boden

We’ve all seen catalogers using the “this may be your last catalog if you don’t order from us” wrap or inkjet message, but U.K.-based apparel mailer Boden takes a cheekier approach. A Multichannel Merchant staffer had requested a Boden catalog from the company’s Website about a year ago but never made a purchase. Then she received the following e-mail in June:

“A little while ago, you requested a Boden catalogue. After a brief flirtation, it seems I have failed to seduce you into buying from us. If we’re not for you, and you’d like me to stop sending you catalogues, please let me know by clicking on the link below…”

The e-mail is signed by president Johnnie Boden, a dapper gent who founded the catalog 15 years ago as Britain’s answer to J. Crew. Maybe the staffer is not yet seduced by Boden, but she hopes the mailer will keep trying to win her over with its groovy fashions and witty prose. Austin Powers would not give up so easily.

Bean bags a bummer

A Multichannel Merchant staffer — and long-time L.L. Bean customer — in early June ordered a customized tote bag from the venerable outdoor gear, apparel, and home goods merchant. Using Bean’s “build your own boat and tote” feature, the staffer selected the tote size and handle length as well as the tote body, bottom, and handle trim colors, and opted to have the bag monogrammed. When the totebag arrived about five days later, there was a mistake in the monogram, plus the bag also had crooked seams and hanging threads. The staffer returned the bag and ordered a new one, which arrived in about four days. The monogram was correct, but the construction quality of the bag was just as bad as — if not worse than — that of the first tote. As it was not up to the staffer’s expectations, and did not seem up to Bean’s standards, she returned the second bag. The cataloger graciously accepted the returns with its usual impeccable service; we just hope it works out the quality control issues with this product. Note to Bean: While your turnaround time for a custom-built and monogrammed totebag is impressive, we’d be happy to wait a little longer for straight seams.

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Gratuitous pic of the month

We wish we had some newsworthy reason to refer to Independent Journeys, a recent spin-off catalog from Wilderness Travel we received in the mail. But we don’t. Nonetheless, that won’t stop us from featuring the latest cover — a photo of a mother and baby elephant — for the simple reason that it is absolutely adorable. Oh — here’s a reason: Happy Mother’s Day.

Staples throws us a bone

A Catalog Age staffer placed a Web order with office supplies marketer Staples in March and immediately received a confirmation e-mail. About five minutes later, the staffer found the same items she had just ordered on another marketer’s Website for a lower price. She followed the directions in Staples’ e-mail to cancel the order and promptly called the company; a telephone service rep told her that the order had already gone to the warehouse and was past the point of cancellation. The Staples rep instructed the staffer to refuse the order if she was home when it was delivered, or if the package arrived when she wasn’t home she should phone the call center back for a return-shipping label. That wasn’t an ideal situation, and the company apparently agreed. A Staples rep called the staffer the next day to say that the customer’s credit card would be reimbursed for the charge. The rep added that if the staffer wasn’t home when the package was delivered, rather than call for a return-shipping label she should keep the order as a gift from the company. Thanks, Staples — we owe you one!

CONTACT US…

E-mail: mweinstein@primediabusiness.com
Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823
Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907
or visit us on the Web at www.CatalogAgemag.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Tears for a clown

A Catalog Age staffer in mid-January ordered an ornament from The Met Store, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Web catalog. The ornament — a clown playing the violin — arrived within three days. Although the ornament seemed well packaged in bubble wrap and Styrofoam, the violin had broken off. The staffer called The Met Store, and the marketer immediately shipped out a new ornament and told the staffer to keep the first one. The second ornament arrived a few days later, and its violin was also broken off. The staffer, who by this time had lost interest in the product, called the company again to complain. The Met Store told her to keep the second clown and credited her account for the item, so we can’t fault its customer service. The company’s quality control is another story — sad enough to make a clown cry.

Bank of J. Jill?

Women’s apparel cataloger/retailer J. Jill was one of the early adoptors of accepting in-store returns for catalog and Internet purchases. Now the Quincy, MA-based multichannel merchant is allowing customers to make payments on their J. Jill credit card at any of its 150 retail stores (excluding its outlet stores). The good news: You can wait until the end of the billing cycle to make your J. Jill credit-card payments if you do it in person. The bad news: When you go into a J. Jill store to make your credit-card payment, you’re bound to be tempted with racks of new merchandise, which will probably result in your racking up a bigger balance on your card!

This little piggy gets a party

Did you know that March 1 is National Pig Day? Well, neither did we, but you can be sure the folks at industrial cleanup products marketer New Pig did — and that the Tipton, PA-based company is making the most of it. A Catalog Age staffer on March 1 received an e-mail promoting the hog holiday with links to New Pig’s brands and products. According to the cataloger, National Pig Day began in 1972 through the efforts of Ellen Stanley, a Lubbock, TX-based art teacher, “to honor one of the most useful and intelligent of all domesticated animals.” Never mind that March 1 is also National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day; as New Pig says, “It’s a swine day to ham it up!”

CONTACT US…

E-mail: mweinstein@primediabusiness.com
Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823
Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907 or visit us on the Web at www.CatalogAgemag.com

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

TALES FROM THE FRONT

Bauer gives us a break

A Catalog Age staffer — coupon in hand — went to Eddie Bauer’s Website to place an order. The site was experiencing a glitch in which it would not register the selected size of an item the staffer wanted, so it would not let her put it in her cart. The staffer called the cataloger to see what was going on. While the telephone service rep could not help with the problem online, he did take the staffer’s Web order over the phone. But in all the excitement, the staffer forgot to give the rep her coupon code for a discount based on the amount of the order. Since the staffer had intentionally bulked up her order to be able to use the coupon, she figured it was worth a shot to call the company back the next day and explain the situation. It was worth it: Though the order by then had already been processed and was on its way to the customer, Eddie Bauer graciously agreed to credit her account the amount of the coupon discount.

Not a favorable impression

A friend of Catalog Age placed a Web order with archival products marketer Light Impressions in early December. A shopping cart confirmation screen assured the shopper that the order had been successfully submitted, but the products never arrived. When the customer called the company three weeks later, a telephone rep said that the order had been for items “no longer being sold” and therefore had been canceled. Aside from the obvious question of why Light Impressions had been offering discontinued items on its site, why didn’t the company notify the customer that the products weren’t available? The rep insisted that it had sent an e-mail on Dec. 16, though the customer does not recall receiving one. Even so, that’s a full week after the order was placed — and confirmed. Worse yet, the company blamed its online ordering glitches on the fact that its Website is not “live.” We assume Light Impressions was confusing live with real-time; if not, it should be aware that a phantom site is apparently taking orders on its behalf.

DO YOU HAVE A “TALE FROM THE FRONT”? CONTACT US…

E-mail: mweinstein@primediabusiness.com
Phone: 203-358-9900 Fax: 203-358-5823
Letter: 11 River Bend Drive South, Stamford, CT 06907
or visit us on the Web at www.CatalogAgemag.com

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