Catalogs were supposed to go the way of the dinosaurs with the advent of the Internet, so says the proponents of the hyped-up dot-com boom in the late 90s. The Web was supposed to become the dominant business channel, relegating all others to the dustbin.
Well, not only was this prediction proven to be false, but catalogs are now emerging as a viable strategy to work hand-in-hand with the Internet. In fact, some of the biggest retailers and e-commerce sites nowadays are integrating catalogs into their successful Internet-based retail strategies:
- The Internet’s biggest auction site, eBay.com, mailed its first-ever 32-page holiday catalog to its members in November as a way to boost holiday sales in their web site.
- Lands’ End, one of the most active catalog mailers, integrates all of its marketing channels so that catalogs drive customers to its Web site.
- BabyStyle.com is offering free shipping and 10% discount to its catalog recipients who orders from their web site.
Why are marketers rediscovering the power of the catalogs? For one, catalogs can be more appealing to the senses given that photography is almost always better (and bigger) and the item description is more detailed. In fact, a recent study of online shoppers by the U.S. Postal Service and comScore found that direct mail working together with the Internet can increase a consumer’s spending by 16% or more. The study also found that catalog recipients accounted for 37% of retailers’ web site sales. Other interesting findings found by this study include higher levels of engagement from the shopper:
- Consumers are twice as likely to make an online purchase following receipt of a catalog
- They make 15% more transactions than who did not receive catalogs
- More likely to spend “quality time” on the web site
- 75% more likely to enter the secure areas of a retailer’s web site