Many of you Catalog Age subscribers who are reading this may well be thinking, Hmm, they changed the name of the magazine. Many of you Operations + Fulfillment subscribers who are reading this may be thinking, Gee, I seem to be receiving a different magazine. And the rest of you may be thinking, Hey, this Multichannel Merchant must be a new magazine.
You’re all right.
With this issue, we’ve retired the Catalog Age name and replaced it with Multichannel Merchant. And beginning this month, we’ve incorporated Operations + Fulfillment into our brand.
Why, after 22 successful and award-winning years as Catalog Age, have we changed the name to Multichannel Merchant? Because catalogers have changed into multichannel merchants.
Consider this: Among respondents to the O+F Multichannel Performance Benchmark Survey (which begins below), fewer than 23% considered themselves catalogers, compared with more than 35% just two years ago. And among the respondents, the majority operated through at least four channels: the Internet, brick-and-mortar stores, and field sales in addition to print catalogs.
Also consider that according to Catalog Age’s recent Benchmark Report on Operations, a mean 35.5% of respondents’ orders came via the Internet, up from 24.1% two years earlier. Among the companies on last year’s Catalog Age 150, our exclusive ranking of the largest offline and online catalogers in the country, only one — Starcrest of California — sold exclusively via print catalog. For apparel cataloger/retailer J. Crew, to name but one example, the Internet accounted for more than 16% of sales, the print catalog less than 9%, and retail the rest — and this was a company that had launched exclusively as a catalog.
Basically the name change solidifies what we’ve been doing content-wise for the past few years: expanding our coverage to include all the marketing and sales channels that a company with a print catalog might also use. It’s the same reasoning behind our decision earlier this year to reorganize the flow of the magazine by channel.
And our goal of expanded coverage is also why we’ve incorporated Operations + Fulfillment into the magazine. If you’re marketing and selling product, you’ve naturally got to fulfill it as well. And just as the multiple marketing channels have become more entwined with one another (for instance, marketing services provider DoubleClick noted that this past holiday season 29% of retail sales were driven by print catalogs), so the front end and the back end need to work more closely together. The employees who staff your call centers and distribution centers aren’t simply taking orders and picking product; by communicating, in words and actions, directly with your customers, they’re implementing your company’s marketing plan on a day-to-day basis.
The next question: What does all this mean to you?
It means that Catalog Age readers will continue to receive the same sort of content on multichannel marketing that we’ve been providing, along with a healthy dose of O+F content. It means that O+F readers will continue to receive information critical to their jobs, along with articles that show how the back end fits into the business as a whole. It means that in addition to the monthly Multichannel Merchant print magazine, we’ll continue to offer weekly e-newsletters — Multichannel Merchant Weekly, List & Data Strategies, and O+F Advisor — a newly redesigned, more robust than ever Website (www.MultichannelMerchant.com), two trade shows (the Annual Catalog Conference and the National Conference on Operations and Fulfillment, both in conjunction with the Direct Marketing Association), our ongoing Webinar series, and multiple special projects.
The Catalog Age staff is now the Multichannel Merchant staff, with the addition of O+F editor Rama Ramaswami. We aren’t cutting back on the type of articles we’ve long offered in Catalog Age in order to provide the O+F content; we’re expanding our page count and article count, just as we’ve expanded circulation.
One question you’re probably not asking yourselves is what does all this mean to us, the Multichannel Merchant team. I’ll answer it anyway: It means that we’re committed to creating and producing the best, most insightful, and most useful information to help you improve your business. In other words, it means we’ll continue to strive for excellence, the same as we — and you — have always done.
Sherry Chiger, Editorial Director