This business started three years ago at $0, and ended 2008 at $22 million in annual sales. The article suggests that, after a flat spring, sales are increasing again this fall.
Here's a link to their website. Here's a link to their Facebook presence, full of both negative customer sentiment and the loyalty of 1,600 fans.
Oh, there would be a long line of pundits ready to bash this business, especially in the online marketing and social media community.
- They use list rental practices to find new customers, a terrible customer experience. FAIL!
- Their e-mail marketing strategy is not targeted or personalized nearly enough. FAIL!
- Their website is probably not optimized for search engine optimization. FAIL!
- They do not have a Twitter presence. FAIL!
- Their homepage is not optimized for maximum conversion. FAIL!
- The actually present merchandise via print, in catalogs (gasp), destroying the planet. FAIL!
- No live chat on the homepage. FAIL!
- No recommendation engine on the homepage for cross-sell & up-sell. FAIL!
- No stores, no "bricks 'n clicks" strategy. FAIL!
- There is no mobile marketing opportunity, no iPhone app. FAIL!
- They send catalogs without allowing you the right to determine contact frequency. FAIL!
- They send e-mail campaigns without allowing you the right to determine contact frequency. FAIL!
I'm sure there's a thousand critical business mistakes that I failed to point out.
And yet, their catalog (gasp) business is growing multiple times faster than Forrester's predicted 8% online growth rate this Holiday season.
How is that possible?
Now, clearly, every company can do a better job, heck, every person can do a better job. But something must be executed correctly in order for a catalog (gasp) company to grow in the teeth of The Great Recession. Might a fusion of merchandising and marketing trump simple marketing tactics?