Bits & Pieces Case Study - Picking Up the Pieces
Disappointed, disheartened and perhaps even dejected, Segal spent most of 1998 mopping up the mess from the Christmas debacle. The fulfillment company was instructed to pay out all customer refund demands without question, even in the situation where company records showed that products had been dispatched in adequate time for Christmas delivery. Segal elected to give his customers the benefit of the doubt rather than trust the word of the fulfillment company itself.
"What was so hard to swallow was the fact that the order levels had shown me that we could have a great business in the United Kingdom and eventually other parts of Europe, if only everything had been handled differently," laments Segal.
Lesser people might have been tempted to cut their losses and run, but not Segal. It was this determination to succeed that led to a series of serendipitous meetings with New Jersey-based catalog consultant Cindy Hertzog and U.K.-based advertising agency Millennium Direct that would help the cataloger turn a disaster into success.
In the course of these meetings, it became clear there were problems in other areas apart from fulfillment. For example, the cataloger had not benefitted from the substantial postal discounts known as TMIs (Tailor-Made Incentives) available to new users from the British Post Office.
It also was daunting to discover the company had been relying solely on cold lists for its prospecting efforts without testing off-the-page advertising or loose inserts. These media generally are much more cost-effective and responsive in the United Kingdom than in the United States. However, it was the apparent lack of communication and coordination among the company's U.K. suppliers and the difficulty of managing the whole process from the other side of the Atlantic that created the initial problems.
Turning Over a New Leaf
Millennium Direct was hired to set up and manage a complete turnkey operation for Bits & Pieces in the United Kingdom and embarked on a test program in the fall of 1999.