Circulation Tools to Manage the Flood of Web Buyers

Catalogers are getting a flood of Web buyers and the percentage of orders placed on the web continues to steadily increase. What new challenges are posed to catalog circulation managers by these Web orders?

Catalogers need to:

  • Learn to circulate catalogs to their Web buyers
  • Learn how Web buyers are different than their old file of buyers
  • Learn to segment the Web buyers and mail to each house file segment profitably
  • Measure what happens when you don’t mail to Web buyers
  • Track sales when your shopping carts don’t capture catalog source codes
  • Develop business rules for match backs to fill in the missing source codes and allocate orders to the correct list segments.

The tools that are emerging to manage Web buyers include:

  1. Segmenting your house file by RFM and Channel. This begins to solve the problem that Web buyers respond very different than your traditional catalog buyers.
  2. Segmenting web buyers further by segmenting catalog-driven web buyers from pure Web buyers who are responding to the Web rather than to a catalog mailing. This segmentation solves the problem that pure Web buyers respond very differently than catalog-driven Web buyers.
  3. Developing flexible accurate business rules for matchbacks to measure how different list segments respond. Matchbacks solve the problem of shopping carts not capturing source code date. If catalogers rely only on source codes from their call center, they tend to overmail traditional catalog driven buyers and undermail Web buyers.
  4. Measuring precisely the incremental sales from catalog mailings by comparing web buyers who were mailed catalogs and Web buyers who weren’t mailed catalogs. The problem this solves is the issue “Wouldn’t I have gotten those sales anyway?” Catalogers need to know how much they will generate in sales with no catalog circulation to know the true breakeven when analyzing results from a mailing.

Develop these four tools and you’ll be able to optimize your circulation and contact strategy when mailing to your Web buyers.

Jim Coogan is president of Santa Fe, NM-based consultancy Catalog Marketing Economics.

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