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Industry Insight

Catalog Versioning Is Working for Williams-Sonoma

It appears that Williams-

By Chantal Tode
Published: August 20, 2010

It appears that Williams-Sonoma Inc.’s recent efforts to increase the use versioning in its catalog mailings are a success, according to comments made by company executives during a conference call to discuss Williams-Sonoma’s second quarter financial results. Earlier this year, Williams-Sonoma said that it expected catalog circulation levels to be flat in 2010 after decreasing circulation in 2008 and 2009. It also indicated at the time that it would be increasing the use of versioning in special mailers and shifting catalog dollars into e-marketing. In the Thursday conference call with analysts to discuss the company’s second quarter financial results, Williams-Sonoma’s president and CEO Laura Alber said that the company’s highly targeted catalog initiatives are “consistently exceeding expectations.” Williams-Sonoma continues “to look at where we have opportunity to mail our customers profitably,” said Alber. The versioning initiatives “have allowed us to profitably mail a greater number of catalogs, while still reducing our overall advertising rate,” she noted at another point in the call. She referred to the new versions as “a new leg of opportunity in circulations.” She also stated that the versioning plan is more robust this year that last year. The company said that during the second quarter of 2010, catalog versioning drove a 1% decline in catalog pages mailed while catalog circulations increased 1%. Second quarter net revenues increased 15.4% for a total of $776 million while comparable store sales increased 13.6%. Direct-to-consumer net revenues during the same period increased 19.8% for a total of #26 million while Internet net revenues increased 27.6%. Williams-Sonoma’s multichannel brands include Potter Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and West Elm.

 

Discussion

By Brittany on Aug 24, 2010

I am trying to find out exactly what versioning W-S is doing (Covers, offers, geographic locations, personalization, etc). I have searched online and found that Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is offering the option to reduce unwanted catalog mailings. Of the 8 catalog-mailers produced, W-S gives the options to have sent 1 catalog per month, 1 per season, holiday catalogs only (Thanksgiving through New Year's), or unsubscribe completely. This is the only versioning I could come across, but I was wondering if the article is referring more to perhaps variable print by subscriber or location of customer etc.

 

By Chantal Tode on Aug 24, 2010

Brittany, The following is taken from Williams-Sonoma's Environmental Catalog Paper Procurement Policy: We reduced the number of pages in several of our catalogs through a technique called “versioning”, whereby we use statistical techniques to mail smaller catalogs to certain customer segments. Hope this helps.

 

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