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Williams-Sonoma sharpens direct marketing

New YorkWilliams-Sonoma will supercharge its use of database marketing this year in an attempt to take customized, direct-to-consumer appeals to a level “never done before” in retailing.

Speaking at the Lehman Brothers 10th Annual Retail Conference here this morning, evp and chief marketing officer Patrick Connolly said the company’s advanced marketing platform is being used to create new appeals uniquely framed for email customers vs. retail customers, frequent shoppers vs. newcomers, and other profiles.

“Test results are encouraging,” Connolly said during the presentation.

When the company sent an email offer to customers who had browsed for a particular item, response was nine times that of typical email offers, he said. When the company targeted an offer to customers who had already bought an item in Pottery Barn’sChesapeakefurniture collection, response jumped to 18 times the norm.

“E-commerce will contribute over 25% of our total corporate revenue this year” and will exceed $1 billion, Connolly said. “Over one-third of new customers for our company are acquired through our websites.”

For the Pottery Barn brand, the company is refocusing on its price points, said Sharon McCollam, evp, cfo and coo. She said that during the period from 2004-2006, customers were responding to higher price points, which evolved into a broader part of the merchandise mix. “Now we’re going back to rebalance,” she said.

The company’s West Elm concept this year will open a super-sized store in downtownWashington,D.C.The store will be 37,700 sq. ft.; the 22 existing West Elm stores range from 15,000 to 20,000 sq. ft.

The company will open five West Elm and two Williams-Sonoma Home units this year. The expansion pace is cautious because neither is a mall concept, McCollam explained.

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