October 23, 2007

Using E-Mail For Sale And Clearance

When business misses expectations, catalogers have long enjoyed printing additional "clearance" catalogs ... 48 or 72 or 96 page offerings with significantly marked-down merchandise.

For instance, if business is missing expectations by 15%, a clearance catalog will quickly make up much of the business shortfall.

So here's a question for my loyal e-mail marketers. If you don't have access to print advertising, and your business is missing expectations by 15% (across all of your product lines), how would you use e-mail to make up the kind of volume that a 72 page catalog, with 420 items, typically moves?


  1. Anonymous5:19 PM

    I doubt that email alone could make up for not mailing a clearance sale catalog.

    On the other hand, email should be tested both when the catalog is mailed as well as after it drops. And special clearance emails could generate a sizable sales volume depending on the quality of the customers' permission to do so.

  2. I'm a writer not a retailer :-), but I don't think email would attempt to replicate the catalog scenario directly.

    Instead, I imagine the email marketer would be tackling the problem in bite-sized chunks and continuously. Monitoring sales performance and then adjusting emails accordingly. This assumes sufficient integration with the wider sales and marketing team.

    So as soon as it becomes clear that a particular product group's sales are stagnating, you might include a special promotion in your outgoing transactional emails for that week. Or slip an appropriate offer into the weekly promotional email etc.

    Especially if you have enough customer data to know who to target for specific products.

    You'd have to be able to act fast and be on top of the data, though.

    Or you simply use a teaser email to get people to the website for the summer clearance etc., as Amazon have done for years. or to send them a X% off if you spend more than $Y to try and lift order sizes.

    Or you might ask whether the expectations were simply too optimistic and/or blame the other channels for not pulling their weight ;-)

  3. Sometimes it is hard for folks raised in "catalog", if you will, to view e-mail as a channel that complements catalog marketing.

    In catalog marketing, you have big challenges with clearance, because some items have slight overstock problems, whereas other items have significant overstock problems.

    E-mail is a great way to clear certain items that have "slight" overstock problems.

    Catalogs are great for items that must be moved in a big way!


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