The Internet has revolutionized retail, no doubt about it. The changing dynamic of retailing requires catalogers to meet several new challenges — not least of which are dealing with higher costs for paper, mailing, and shipping, and ensuring eCommerce websites are secure and provide an excellent customer experience.
But if you think the popularity and ease of online shopping means that print catalogs are obsolete, you’ll be pleasantly surprised: For every dollar spent on producing a print catalog, at least $4 of additional sales revenues are generated.
In fact, a study by FGI Research on consumer opinions and behavior found that two-thirds of consumers would request a print catalog if that were the only way to receive it. That study also found that Americans spend an average of $357 per person, per year on catalog purchases.
So customers want print catalogs, and would miss them if they disappeared. But how do they actually use these catalogs? FGI found that consumers:
- Actually read catalogs: two-thirds are opened and perused.
- Buy from them: 92% of those surveyed had purchased from a catalog they received in the mail — usually by ordering online (51%), but sometimes by phone (24%) or by purchasing in the retailer’s store (16%).
- Use catalogs as a reminder to buy in the future even if they aren’t ready to make a purchase right now.
There’s one more powerful statistic: The more catalogs a customer receives, the more money is spent on catalog purchases — much more. And some customers said they would be so upset if they stopped receiving catalogs, that they would stop doing business with the company. Those customers were also the biggest spenders, with a yearly average of $848 in catalog purchases per year. Clearly, it pays to keep your biggest catalog fans happy!
How can catalogers target their print catalog offerings to make the most of every dollar spent? There are several ways:
- Many retailers rely on data from huge databases that tell what millions of households have bought online for years. Mining this data provides useful information that helps retailers target segmented catalog content and create catalogs with the right timing and discounts.
- Successful catalogers are constantly asking questions, analyzing results of promotions and mailings, and working to anticipate customer needs.
- Catalogers are realizing the importance of personalization in content as well as on the cover.
Print catalogs are more closely linked with eCommerce revenue than you might think, and smart catalogers know that their print catalog is a critical marketing tool to drive online sales. Compared to ROI of other marketing methods, print catalogs are one of the best investments an online business can make.