February 5, 2009, 12:00 AM

With cross-channel analytics, Orvis sees the web value of catalog shoppers

Mailing fewer catalogs can be a good cost-cutting move in a tight economy, but using analytics on cross-channel customer activity helps to maximize sales at the same time, the retailer of outdoors gear and apparel and recreational equipment says.

Mailing fewer catalogs can be a good cost-cutting move in a tight economy, but using analytics on cross-channel customer activity helps to maximize sales at the same time, says Mark Holmes, vice president of information technology at The Orvis Co. Inc., the retailer of outdoor apparel and recreational equipment says.

“That customer data is gold for a direct marketer,” Holmes tells Internet Retailer. “That power and insight in customer history is what really drives the business.”

Orvis, No. 122 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, publishes about 30 unique catalogs catering to customer interests ranging from sport fishing to dog training to special off-price sales. But instead of arbitrarily reducing the number of mailings to save costs, which risks also losing good customers, it’s taken a hard look at cross-channel customer shopping activity, Holmes says.

In the past, Orvis might have set a minimum annual purchasing level of, say, $100, for an individual customer to continue receiving a catalog. But now, by looking at cross-channel shopping behavior using web analytics from Coremetrics and store-level data gathered through enterprise software from Manhattan Associates, Orvis can see the full cross-channel value of a customer.

“A few years ago, we might have cut off a customer from receiving a catalog if she only spent $99 through it in a year, but now we may see she spent a total of $275 overall on the web and through the catalog call center,” Holmes says. “So we can see the customer is more valuable than we had thought, and that the catalog is a material tool for driving people to the Internet.”

At the same, he adds, cross-channel analytics provides valuable information such as how a customer has responded to cross-sell offers in each channel, or whether they had inquired in any channel about special services like a fly fishing school. Orvis may then respond with targeted e-mail offers, Holmes says.

 

 

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