Print catalogers have cause for concern as the Internet promotes uncertainty and distribution costs are scheduled to spike.
As a cataloger, you live in exciting and tumultuous times. Exciting, because you've witnessed the explosion of the Internet and its e-commerce spawn. Tumult-uous, also because of the Internet's potential to impact—negatively or positively—print. To compound the imbalance caused by the electronic revolution, catalogers are also facing down the barrel of a proposed postal hike due in 2001. Rightfully concerned about what the future will hold, they are paying close attention to the distribution bottom line.
Two factors are forcing firms like yours to adopt more streamlined and cost-efficient methods for mailing your most treasured asset—your print catalog. First, let's look at the Internet. While industry analysts attempt to sort through the numbers to determine the Internet's impact on the industry, catalogers are torn in two directions—forced to allocate resources to both print manufacturing and e-commerce. While the e-commerce cup runneth over, the collar tightens around the neck of the print buyer.
More troublesome than the Internet, perhaps, is the forthcoming postal rate increase. "People are just starting to digest this," suggests Dave Riebe, vice president, distribution, Quad/Graphics, Pewaukee, WI. "A lot of people are in shock in what they're seeing [in the rate hike]."
"It's an outrageous number," concurs John Campanelli, president, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Logistic Services, Chicago. "There are measures that we're taking to allow our customers to rely on the postal carriers for only the last [delivery] mile, so we can bypass as much of the bulk mail network as we can."
In February, just weeks after the United States Postal Service (USPS) dropped the rate-hike bomb, R.R. Donnelley Logistics Services purchased Minneapolis-based CTC Distribution Direct, one of the largest mailers of business-to-home parcels in the U.S., which had been catering to such notable catalogers as Chadwick's of Boston, Home Shopping Network and Miles Kimball.