August 10, 2009

Gliebers Dresses: Winners And Order Starters

It's time for the Tuesday Gliebers Dresses Executive Meeting.

Glenn Glieber (Owner): "So what song do all of you think we should try to license for our annual Homecoming celebration? I'm partial to 'I'm Still Standing' by Elton John."

Meredith Thompson (Chief Merchant): "Kevin, is that you?"

Kevin: "Yup, it's me."

Pepper Morgan (Interim Chief Marketing Officer): "Here's our problem, Kevin. We want to know what we should advertise to our customers."

Meredith Thompson: "See, I think it is important to ride winners, you know, items that work year-in and year-out. I think we should beat those puppies into the ground, extracting as much profit as is humanly possible out of them."

Pepper Morgan: "And I think our brand needs a breath of fresh air. We're all about fashion, and fashion changes, all the time."

Meredith Thompson: "But we're lucky if we hit on three out of ten new items that we introduce. New merchandise is risky. You merchandise pages four and five of a catalog with new merchandise, and if that merchandise fails, we're sunk."

Pepper Morgan: "If we don't feature the new merchandise, then the customer perceives that our brand is stale. Reese Witherspoon didn't wear one of our dresses because we ran it on the homepage for seventeen consecutive months."

Meredith Thompson: "I think we need to protect profit, right Lois? We're not in a position where we can just feature risky items at the front of a catalog, on the homepage or key landing pages, or in e-mail marketing campaigns."

Kevin: "There's a few things we do know. We know that the product that has always worked best has less risk associated with it, and as a result, has better productivity. We also know that the items that work best in each catalog, on average, are new products that go absolutely crazy. We also know that the items that are dogs in each catalog are, on average, new products. Our 2010 contact strategy employs a strategy to capitalize on this issue. Recall that the small page count catalogs will feature only the best products. Because we can count on the productivity to be high, and because the page counts are small, we can mail very deep into the customer file and prospect list. With new products, the risk is greater, so we only advertise new products to the best customers, thereby mitigating the risk of offering a poor-performing product to a poor-performing customer."

Meredith Thompson: "But what do you feature in a catalog or e-mail campaign or landing page? In other words, even in one of our smaller catalogs, do we feature newer products, or time-tested winners?"

Kevin: "Have you run an 'order starter' analysis?"

Pepper Morgan: "What is that?"

Kevin: "If your order entry system captures the first item a customer asks for in an order, followed by the second item, then the third item, and you assume that this is the order of purchase intent for the customer, then you can record the items that cause customers to 'start' an order. Roger, does the order entry system record information in this manner, and then feed the customer database in this manner?"

Lois Gladstone (Chief Financial Officer): "Roger is out of the office today, he's speaking at an e-commerce conference about multichannel marketing integration. But I believe the databases are populated that way."

Meredith Thompson: "What does Roger know about multichannel marketing integration?"

Kevin: "Any item that appears first in an order is given a value of '1'. The item that appears second is given a value of '2', and so on. Take all of your new and existing items featured in catalogs and e-mail campaigns, and see which items 'start' orders. In theory, those are the items that could be merchandised at the front of a catalog, or featured in an e-mail campaign. Typically, but not always, you'll see that the first twenty pages in a catalog should have a decent number of order starters featured. You'll often see that e-mail campaigns work well when order starters are featured in the creative. Your mileage may vary, but at least do the analysis to find out."

Candi Layton (HR and Chief Customer Officer): "I'll ask my Twitter followers to weigh in on the topic, ok?"

Lois Gladstone: "We'd be better off having Reese Witherspoon in the first twenty pages of every catalog, and in every e-mail campaign. She can start some orders for us!!"

Pepper Morgan: "We did ask her PR team if she'd be willing to accept compensation in exchange for a series of catalog and e-mail marketing and homepage appearances. Her PR team turned down our request."

Lois Gladstone: "How about Morgan Fairchild? Is she available?

Candi Layton: "Who?"

Lois Gladstone: "Or what about Susan Sarandon? Didn't she wear a Gliebers Dress in Bull Durham?"

Meredith Thompson: "No, that was an Anna Carter dress."

Lois Gladstone: "Rats."

Glenn Glieber: "I think we've exhausted this topic. Thanks Kevin, we'll have Bow Tie Guy run the order starter analysis for us. Now let's get back to the theme song for the annual Homecoming celebration."

Candi Layton: "What about 'Every Morning' by Sugar Ray? I mean, we come in here and work every single morning, don't we?"

Lois Gladstone: "What about 'Every Day Of The Week' by Jade? We come in here and work every day of the week, don't we?"

Meredith Thompson: "Rainy Days And Mondays Always Get Me Down?"

Lois Gladstone: "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights by Freddy Fender?"

Glenn Glieber: "PEOPLE, I'm serious! I need a theme song."