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Sat May 19 2012 22:52:34

Catalog CEO Shares Marketing Successes at Monsoon Keynote

By: Julia Wilkinson

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Norm Thompson Outfitters CEO Martin McClanan shared some hard-won online retailing lessons over a career that includes overseeing major online and print catalogs such as Red Envelope, in the opening keynote session of the Monsoon Ecommerce conference this weekend in Philadelphia, PA.

Managing catalogs from Red Envelope, Body Essentials, Independent Living, Norm Thompson, and Sahalie, he opened with the telling quote about the importance of understanding your marketing results from the great Philly retailer John Wanamaker: "Half of the money we spend on advertising is wasted - the trouble is I never know which half."

Red Envelope launched in 1999, and was one of the pioneers in Internet "story telling," where the consumer can relate to something that is happening in the pictures. The catalog "Early Winters" was a 35 year-old brand, said McClanan, but they renamed it to Sahalie to capture more of the all-year long active clothing market.

McClanan said they focused in several strategies to increase sales, including cutting back on abandoned shopping carts; after 24 hours they send email reminders out, and they’ve seen a 55 percent increase in demand. He said they spend roughly 80 cents per email, and send the emails also after 3 days and 7 days of an abandoned cart.

Their best-performing emails of 2011 included their "flash weekend sales," such as "five hours only!" at 25 percent off. Over last year, he said they'd seen a dramatic change; this flash sale model has sparked a spike in sales.  

Other successes include a 15 percent off their popular "no-show shorts," and two "sneak peeks" at 70 percent off.

Their worst-performing emails?

Number one was a "re-mail" to  non-email-openers. No. 2 was focused on some shoes that just didn’t sell, he joked. And #3 was a knits-based email story that just didn’t resonate with shoppers.

One of their big successes was lowering the price on their popular “Butter Fleece” zip tees…from $39.95 to $19.95.

Offering shoppers the ability to see “matched” outfits together in the catalogs increased customer visits 78 percent, he said, with a pop in matching shoes sales being the big surprise there, rather than tops and bottoms.

McClanan said the company uses various forms of Google search marketing but recalibrates regularly as Google tweaks their rules. They also get a fair amount of sales from affiliates, with demand up 50%,  including coupon sites like and

Their mobile commerce has seen a 353% increase, with 51% of visits on the iPad, and they recently launched with the Spree catalog and are launching on Google catalogs.

EcommerceBytes is the media sponsor for Monsoon's MonCon Conference in Philadelphia this weekend stay tuned for more coverage of the event.

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