Catalog retailers face their worst nightmares: retail catalogers
You may be able to beat catalog merchandisers at their own game. Retailers
with stores who also sell through their own catalogs are gaining an advantage
over mail-order companies with no physical space.
Lands' End, a catalog retailer of mostly casual and outdoorsy clothing,
reported a nine-month decline in sales last year because of increased competition
from catalogs introduced by specialty and department stores, according to
an article in The Wall Street Journal.Recognizing the synergy between
stores and catalogs, mail-only businesses such as J. Crew have scrambled
to open stores.
Stores can target specific audiences with their catalogs (such as Abercrombie
& Fitch's focus on teens or Macy's appeal to baby boomers). These can
drive traffic into stores so even if catalog sales falter, results may show
in overall retail turnover.
In addition, catalog-only retailers can't quickly dispose of unsold merchandise
the way retail stores can with clearance sales. In 1998, for example, Lands'
End carried over much of its inventory from 1997 and continued to push it
at full price.
by Stacey King
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.