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Flyer Foibles and Catalogue Conundrums

Spring Catalogue 2015Like some of you, we’re getting ready to unleash the Spring Catalogue, the first of a series of cooperative ventures between David C. Cook and Foundation Distribution. We were hoping to hold back another week, but we see there is considerable Easter-themed merchandise on one page, which makes that page a bit of a throwaway in just a few weeks. Mother’s Day titles might have timed out better.

So just a few general observation from someone who normally does the Send the Light (STL) Catalogues.

  1. A lot depends on perspective. If you see the purpose of a catalogue to get traffic back into the store, you need price inducements. If (like us) you see the purpose of a catalogue as showcasing merchandise the customers might never notice, then price is less critical. The STL pieces always feature merchandise at list price.
  2. The two companies approach pricing (and wholesale pricing) completely differently. Overall, I’ve always preferred the FDI approach, and this one offers a full margin on every single piece of theirs with a bonus on the initial order. But the DCC merchandise mix resonates more with my customers, so they’ll get more reorders from us.
  3. Augsburg-Fortress has only two titles. I wish there was more support for the little guy, they have some good stuff. Apparently the way I’ve been told it works is that they submit product as a recommendation, but it’s the catalogue producers who decide what makes the cut. I’d like to see their Abbey Press line turn up there one day, and not just one or two pieces, either.
  4. The 10% off and 15% off coupons on the back page were a surprise. (I guess I haven’t done these Canadian catalogues in a while.) We’re going to have a post a list of restrictions. In preparation for the end of music loyalty coupons, we have a parallel music promotion running, and so CDs are going to have to be one special or the other.
  5. Why is Foundation selling Thomas Nelson and Zondervan remainders? It would seem to me that those particular catalogue slots would be better used building the Harvest House or NavPress or Tyndale brands. Hope Book Depot gave them a good deal.
  6. Many of the $11.99 DCC titles simply don’t leave much margin. I’ve had a few discussions with them on this, and will leave this for another time. But honestly, any retailer who sat down with a calculator would have to question the wisdom of basically giving away product from established authors and series. (Cook’s philosophy is to “split” the margin with the dealer, but existing margins are actually not an equal split and never have been; the distributor discount leaving a narrow margin which is offset by volume and the efficiencies of not having to listen to Mrs. Meandering’s 30-minute story about her last doctor visit. So any “splitting” should be proportional, at least in my humble opinion.)(Also perception is important; an item that’s regular $18.99 on sale for $12.99 is seen by the customer as 12/18 or one-third off. Dropping the extra dollar is completely unnecessary.)
  7. The Buy-2-Get-1-Free boxed card thing is going to have be amended in my store somehow. The way they’ve structured the margin means there is still a comfortable 43% when someone buys two boxes, but if and only if the customer picks up merchandise which was specifically bought for the sale. In our store, boxed cards are a carefully monitored staple. We had more than adequate stock when this aspect of the catalogue was spring on us, and I don’t have room to create two boxed cards sections. And customers have a knack for cherry-picking the best items. Again, I’m not sure why we would want to discount something that is a church-supply staple. If they must, I’d rather see two or three dozen card boxes featured. I can’t afford the giveaway, but I can’t afford to take down my existing merchandise for a few weeks, either.
  8. Some of the HarperCollins Christian Publishing titles that were picked seemed to have been chosen because someone (either DCC or FDI) had related audio book rights.
  9. The “Owl” themed merchandise is an odd choice, given the Charismatic customers who believe the birds to be demonic. We had some similar products in a past STL catalogue. We didn’t stock them and nobody ever asked for them.
  10. There are no regular prices. Given the Canadian dollar fluctuation, perhaps this was necessary. But watch your FDI invoices for list price inconsistencies. The book Veggie Town Voyage (which is actually a Zondervan title) bears a U.S. price of 7.99 bit their invoice claims it lists for $14.99. Fortunately it’s on sale for $6.99 and yes, we’ve contacted them on that one.

So no, I won’t be signing up for any summer or fall or Christmas pieces. We need a new paradigm.

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