FAO Schwarz Gives to Get Names

Oct 13, 2008 9:57 PM  By

Are you requesting information from your retail store customers, or giving them something in exchange of their name?

Toy merchant FAO Schwarz was asking customers for their e-mail address in an attempt to build its database. And the results just weren’t there.

The problem was how they were asking the customer. Rather, they weren’t asking. Signage in its FAO Schwarz outlets had the heading “Join Our E-Mail List” heading.

“We did a store walk-through and looked at a sign and asked ourselves why we would want to join,” says senior vice president Lee Bissonnette. “We thought the headline as not compelling enough, why not give the customer a reason to join.”

So FAO Schwarz came up with a new angle – an enter-to-win sweepstakes.

Now the retailer gives away five $1,000 shopping sprees per season, and that investment has helped grow its e-mail list. Customers fill out a card – which Bissonnette says saves time in the check-out process – and opt-in to receive e-mails from FAO Schwarz.

Bissonnette would not reveal numbers, but said he was thrilled that only 57% opted out after the first e-mail.

And the promotion has worked in another way, too, for FAO Schwarz. Bissonnette points out that with all the customer service its in-store employees need to provide, it’s one less question that has to be asked of the customer.