Babyshoe takes a big step

When you sell gift items exclusively for newborns, you’re likely to have less repeat business than if you sell, say, women’s apparel or fishing gear. With that in mind, baby products catalog started expanding its product line this past winter.

“Our problem has been that we are totally a newborn-baby gift catalog,” says owner Michael Schwartz. So last fall the New York based company, whose annual sales are less than $1 million, hired Enfield, NH-based Applied Catalog Solutions to plot a long term growth strategy.

The first big step was to change the company’s name. Until January, was known as the Livonia catalog. “This is a family business,” Schwartz says, “and I kind of inherited the name `Livonia,'” which dates back to the company’s first address on Livonia Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. “But the new name, `,’ provides a much clearer image of who we are.”

The Web as a future strategy

The new moniker also indicates that Schwartz, at least in the long term, sees the Web as key to the company’s success. “We hope to improve upon the Website, but the catalog is going to come first,” he says. “In the future, the Website will probably be a more important marketing tool for us.”, which sells such keepsakes as personalized baby shoes, currently targets gift-giving friends and relatives of new parents. But plans to grow the company involve targeting grandparents, who typically can afford higher-priced gifts, says Marty Singer, a partner in Applied Catalog Solutions,. “We’re moving to furniture, decorative accessories, and safety devices – products that have a lifestyle appeal to them.” The goal is to boost the average order from $35 to $100.

So far, the new items have led to increase the catalog page count from 16 to 24 pages. “Eventually the book will go to 64 pages and possibly as high as 96 pages within three years,” Singer says.

The company will also expand catalog distribution beyond its 100,000 name house file to include rental lists. In the past, neither renting lists nor advertising in national parenting magazines had worked well. In fact, about half of Babyshoe’s customers came via word of mouth.

In terms of finding profitable lists, “you have to experiment,” Singer says. “Now we’re focusing on selects of younger families and grandparents.”

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