January 8, 2002, 12:00 AM

Tighter alignment of web and catalog nets 20% sales gain for Guild

Guild re-aligned its catalog and web merchandising efforts and increased catalog sales 29% over plan, the company reports. It also slashed overhead costs by 80% and the cost of selling goods by 22%, the company says.

A realignment of its web efforts with its catalog merchandising plan boosted overall sales by 20% at Madison, WI-based original art and home décor purveyor and art book publisher Guild. For the fourth quarter, Guild, which spun off from Ashford.com in August, pulled back on the number of items offered on its web site, presenting those in complementary groupings, while also shifting the web assortment to emphasize items priced for gift-giving. The company also refocused its e-marketing efforts on existing customers and looked to its catalog sales as the primary driver for the holiday season. Catalog sales rose 29% over plan as a result.

Guild also boosted cross-marketing efforts for its art books. By dedicating catalog pages, web pages and e-mail to artwork showcased in its books on contemporary artisan crafts, Guild reinforced its 17-year publishing history in the art books realm. It extended that by offering books as premiums to customers who purchased artwork featured in the books, and offered books as incentives to top customers.

At the same time, Guild reduced operating overhead in the fourth quarter to one-fifth of what it had been in the previous year`s fourth quarter, while lowering its cost of goods by 22% versus same quarter last year. “We maximized our marketing, fulfillment and customer service while operating with far lower costs this year,” says CEO Toni Skies. “By focusing on these key areas, Guild strengthened its formula for building a successful and enduring business.”

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