Personalization Delivers Big E-Commerce Wins For National Pen

1 National Pen newFollowing the implementation of a new e-Commerce solution from Oracle, National Pen has seen its loyalty and retention rates rise significantly; and e-Commerce average order size is now 20% larger than the company’s traditional direct mail orders. National Pen, a 60-year-old company, supplies personalized, branded products to more than 1.2 million customers in 27 countries.

Today at National Pen, “One plus one equals five,” stated Dave Thompson, CEO, in an exclusive interview with Retail TouchPoints. “What has surprised us most is that we thought our new e-Commerce customers would be more transactional than loyal. But we’ve found that retention is higher than normal; average annual spend is outside normal; and we’re attracting a new, different type of customer.”

Since launching with Oracle Commerce in 2011, National Pen has grown its e-Commerce business 20% year-over-year. “We will add close to 400,000 new customers in this year alone,” said Thompson.


Prior to the Oracle implementation, National Pen was operating a series of homegrown web sites, Thompson explained. “We were transacting but at an amateurish level. The web was not part of our DNA.” It took some time to see real results, he continued, because “we bought the technology before we established the business skill. It took us three years to put the right group of business people in place, but we’ve found some incredibly talented people who are now driving our web business.”

Building The Business Case For E-Commerce

Because National Pen became successful as a direct mail business, company leaders were concerned that e-Commerce might cannibalize, or displace, that sales model. “Our first question was: Would the web negate what makes us special?,” Thompson explained. “But we couldn’t argue against the fact that the world was going online.” So National Pen set out on a multi-million dollar experiment to test an e-Commerce strategy.

National Pen began its e-Commerce efforts with ATG, which was subsequently purchased by Oracle. Responsys also was in place for email marketing at National Pen, which was purchased by Oracle. “We had fallen in fairly deep with Oracle and it has worked well,” Thompson added.

With Oracle as the backbone of its e-Commerce strategy, National Pen then implemented Oracle Marketing Cloud and is now personalizing emails as well as web site content. As a result, email open rates have more than tripled, according to Thompson. He explained, using examples of National Pen’s core business: “Content relevance matters in a big, big way. Let’s say I mail you a pen and it has your company name on it but not your name – likelihood of you responding is X. With your name, included the likelihood grows to 2X. You’re your name and company logo — or something thematic to you, it is 3X. And the ultimate example is: If I had your business card, we would reproduce the card exactly around that pen: 6-7X.”


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