Flash forward to today. Rather than becoming extinct, like some people wagered with the advent of the Internet and digital catalogs, print catalogs have proven the power of pictures and touch by remaining an unbeatable means to get consumers to place orders online.
Print catalogs influence twice as many consumers as both Pinterest and Twitter for both in-store and online purchases, according to Baynote’s 3rd Annual Holiday Online Shopping Survey.
Print catalogs influenced 81.9% more in-store purchases and 42.9% more online purchases than Facebook, according to Baynote’s survey.
Ecommerce Causes Catalogs to Change with the Times
The Internet, iPads, and smart phones changed everything for catalogs. They became skinnier, more targeted and with just as many coders as call center people on staff as they shift from clicking through a transaction replaced being talked through an order.
Catalogs today allow us to shop around the clock without ever speaking with a customer service representative. The Internet has empowered us to gather information and place a transaction with complete freedom and ease. And while this may appear to be to our advantage as a shopper, it’s actually all well planned (and manipulated) by the catalog’s marketing team. They’ve spent months, perhaps years, laying a digital trail they want you to follow and they know every spinoff route you may take and are waiting for you there, too, with more incentives and reasons to buy from them now.
This lean and mean sales trail they’ve sent you down reminds me of the sales model “traps” builders assemble. You know the ones where you pull up to a new subdivision to view model homes and after you sign in you are sent to see three model homes that are conveniently gated off forcing you to go through them in the order they want you to and you end up right back in the sales office for the Realtor’s pitch?
So even though you think you’re free to roam, each page you open or link you click has been finely orchestrated to help you come one step closely to typing in your credit card number and all these is done online without the need for physical sales people on salaries or more call center staff taking up physical space or cost.
How Catalogs Have Changed and Adapted
Like any business, catalogs have changed with the times to survive. Here are the biggest changes direct mail catalogs have made.
Less Pages. Can you imagine the cost of mailing the size of the former Montgomery Ward catalog to one million addresses? Nor could any cataloger thus the reason J.C. Penney went from an annual large catalog to a monthly Look Book and why IKEA first points new customers to its digital catalog before adding them on its print catalog mailer. Catalogers have learned how to shave cost by printing and mailing less or more targeted catalogs to customers who are prone to order the most. They’ve fine-tuned the formula of mailing less bulk and generating more bucks.
Less Copy. Mail order catalog copy has shrunk because you can read a 50-word description and go online for a complete whitepaper or brochure or call a sales rep to get your questions answered. Plus you can see better images, often in 3D that eliminated the needs for wordy descriptions when you can see the product at every angle and in every color with the click of a button.
More interactive. There are more interactivity points — landing pages, ecommerce portals, macro, micro and review sites — all before calling the 800# (that is if you ever choose to speak with a person).
Augmented Reality. Moosejaw Mountaineering released an app, called X-Ray, for its customers to use with their smart phones upon the receipt of its catalog. The app used augmented reality that allowed customers to see a hidden layer of images in the pages of the catalog. Customers that scanned catalog pages saw the underwear the models were wearing underneath the Moosejaw outerwear.
Moosejaw’s app showed new technology and extended sales to the company’s underwear line.
SOURCE: “Catalogs Find a New Role as Ecommerce Traffic Drivers,” Multichannel Merchant, May 2013.
Triggered Mailings. Catalogers and ecommerce merchants now have the technology and customer data to mail when a potential sale looms such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or when a new home is purchased. Even the five largest catalogers, Sears & Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, Spiegel, J.C. Penney and Alden’s, didn’t have personal data scrubbed, ready and cued up in CRM systems in the 70s to mail triggered mailings. Technology allows this today and triggered mailings can drive open rates into the double digits and response rates over 50%.
SOURCE: “Increase Open Rates & ROI with Deliverability Analysis, Frequency & Triggers,” Lyris HQ.
Is your company driving sales to its products through direct mail, catalogs, or multichannel campaigns? Are you using all the tools and technology to stay far ahead of the competition and forecasted changes coming in our digital world?
Triggered Orders. According to Multichannel Merchant– catalogers can count on the phone ringing as soon as they drop their printed catalogs at the post office. According to a study, 58% of the 817 consumers surveyed said they look at catalogs as soon as they are received, with 92% indicating they have made a purchase from the catalogs.
Two-thirds of the survey’s respondents also said that if catalogs were to become too expensive for the catalog companies to continue producing that they would still request them.
Don’t let the pain of changing keep you from your digital rewards. An iProspect Study found that offline messages delivered through mediums such as catalogs continue to drive online actions. In fact 67% of online actions are stimulated by offline messages.