Cotswold Company springs for an autumn spruce-up


Autumn is traditionally a season of change. So it’s appropriate
that Findel-owned furniture marketer The Cotswold Company has
revamped its autumn catalogue and made tweaks to its website as
well.

Among the changes to the print catalogue was a switch from
saddle-stitched to perfect-bound. The move was meant to make the
book appear more substantial, give it more of an editorial,
“coffee table” feel and “let the product
breathe,” said Cotswold managing director Gerald Dawson.

Previous editions looked too crowded, he continued, and buying
messages were confusing, in that the “photos and copy were
not always next to each other”. What’s more, moving from
one product category to another within the book wasn’t a fluid
transition, he told Catalogue/e-business. To counter this, the
new catalogue includes “hero” spreads featuring a
lifestyle shot to lead into each new section.

Customers are treated to reduced prices on several of the larger
furniture items. “We have to better compete for a shrinking
customer wallet,” Dawson said. “Because furniture
sales have been softer, we took a decision to slightly trim our
margins” to keep sales consistent.

Another addition to the autumn catalogue is the kitchen range,
which had been marketed in a separate catalogue since September
2007. Introducing the kitchen appliances and accessories
separately allowed Cotswold to trial the offering.

“We decided to run Kitchen in a separate catalogue so that
it wouldn’t dilute the main catalogue if it didn’t work. With
hindsight, I am really glad we did,” Dawson said. Although
the range has performed “reasonably” well, the
separate catalogue meant Cotswold could remove anything that
wasn’t a strong seller prior to including the range in the main
book.

Online polished too

Having redesigned the site just last year, Cotswold decided that
only minor tweaks were needed. These include a change of colour
pallet and logo colour to match the autumn catalogue, a better
search function and an overall smoother buying process. Cotswold
now sees 50 per cent of its business generated online, with the
other half split between retail and catalogue; last year the web
accounted for only 40 percent. Dawson said conversion rates have
increased markedly, predominantly due to customers arriving on
the site with a strong desire to buy, not just browse, a result
of increased consumer confidence in buying big-ticket items
online. Beyond these improvements, by the end of the month
Cotswold plans to introduce to its site product videos for two of
its furniture ranges.

Cotswold is also making the most of cross-marketing opportunities
and the synergies it has with other Findel brands as it
introduces a range of toys from sister company Letterbox. The
catalogues have teamed up to market cross-branded offerings to
their customers, who share similar demographics-25- to
45-year-old affluent women. In turn, Letterbox will market
Cotswold’s children’s furniture in its catalogue.

Published: 19th September 2008

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