December 30, 2002, 12:00 AM

When sites don’t compete on price--and still experience sales boosts

With its offering of original artisans’ crafts, Guild skipped the holidays’ discount battles and saw web and catalog sales gain 16%.

 

While a number of retailers looked to discounts and promotions such as free shipping to boost holiday sales, Guild, a web and catalog retailer of fine artisan crafts, did little on that score and saw its combined web and catalog sales rise 16% over the holiday season. Guild limited discounts to 15% off a first-time purchase for customers who registered for Guild membership, yet saw substantial gains over the season, including combined catalog and web sales that rose18% year over year on the Friday following Thanksgiving and 10% on the following Monday.

November sales were the highest in the company’s history. The web accounted for about 20% of sales during the season, with online traffic rising 18% over Holiday 2001.

“Guild offered few discounts, thereby protecting the company’s profit margin,” says a company spokesman. “Strong holiday sales point to unique products, strong customer loyalty and the lack of influence of discounts in driving holiday purchases.”

Guild’s sales also got a lift from the decision to start promoting gift certificates, available on line and by phone order, earlier in the season. Guild customers ordered twice as many Guild gift certificates as they did last season, and twice as many electronic gift certificates this year as in 2001. Guild customers quadrupled the total dollars spent on gift certificates this year over last year, and average gift certificate order size rose by 60%.

 

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