By Barbara Thau
NEW YORK–Williams-Sonoma has earmarked e-commerce as a massive growth opportunity, based on strong early results from its Project 360 marketing platform.
Project 360 works to leverage Williams-Sonoma’s database of consumers and gain insight into their idiosyncratic shopping behavior. The program’s targeted e-mail marketing to the retailer’s database of 43 million customers has generated five times the revenue of equivalent catalog mailings “at zero cost,” Pat Connolly, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, said during investment firm Cowen and Co.’s sixth annual consumer conference here last week.
“E-commerce is our fastest-growing channel, up 20 percent this holiday season,” Connolly told investors.
“We’re mailing 390 million catalogs a year,” said Sharon McCollam, executive vice president and chief financial officer. With the e-mail marketing platform, “We can cut pages and add sales, and touch the customer without having to mail the customer, per se.”
Project 360 also cuts across other channels, including store and mobile advertising. Williams-Sonoma executives were bullish on the business, even though the economic climate for home retailers is tough.
“We see a great opportunity for our company in 2008, which is an odd statement for a home and housewares company,” Connolly said. “We’re a strong company in a weak environment, which presents opportunities,” he said.
The specialty chain has also revamped the Web sites of its multiple brands as it tweaks their corresponding retail stores.
An upgraded Williams-Sonoma kitchenware Web site launched this month features new videos, such as product demonstrations, cooking techniques and specialty shops.
Pottery Barn has been revamped with a new focus on bold colors and patterns, as well as “the reintroduction and re-emphasis on opening price points into our assortment,” Connolly said.
Meanwhile, the retailer is wooing young people through parenting blogs and social-networking sites to grow Pottery Barn Kids and Pottery Barn Teens.
West Elm, its chain of affordable, modern home goods with a young edge, will add more rustic designs to the mix as it expands the assortment of textiles, decor, outdoor furniture and storage.
Williams-Sonoma’s results are “better than the industry average, and we’re taking market share,” McCollam said.