A print catalog and an ecommerce store work extremely well together. The strengths in each channel complement the other’s weaknesses, and consumers frequently browse the catalog first and then go online to purchase the products.
The tangible nature of a print catalog makes it great for product browsing since the catalog is readily available and visible for weeks on end. Another plus is that relative few ecommerce businesses publish a catalog, which can make it even more valuable, especially in niche markets.
Carefully review costs
Small to medium online retailers should examine the costs for catalog development. This includes list management, creative design and layout, distribution processes and postage. Conversion rates in catalogs frequently trail their ecommerce store counterparts however, so utilize conservative conversion metrics when developing your ROI model.
Within the first page of the catalog, consider outlining your unique value proposition. Answer the question: Why would a consumer shop at your store? Provide details of your cross-channel policies, such as how orders can be placed and returned. Make sure to include your URL (www.yourstore.com) in bold writing on every page and include “quick shop” numbers (usually five digits) so shoppers can quickly locate exact products viewed in the catalog on your website.
Unique strengths within each channel
Although catalogs can be great selling tools, they are sometimes limited in their ability to provide deep levels of customer interactivity. Product content and imagery may be limited by catalog page-space constraints, leaving the shopper with unanswered questions. In businesses with large assortments, not all products can make it into to the catalog. This can also cause consumers to be unaware of products that may meet their needs.
It is for these reasons why the web works so well with a catalog. The ecommerce store can tailor the user experience to meet the needs of a visitor, while offering a complete selection of all products. The ecommerce store is able to reduce consumer hesitation by enhanced content, while simultaneously generating action through time sensitive promotions. Online components such as buying guides, comparison charts and visualization tools instill confidence on core product benefits – while cross-sell functionality increases the average order amount.
Similar to how the catalog promotes the ecommerce business, it is also important that the website promote the catalog. Online stores should provide the “quick shop” search capabilities mentioned earlier, provide the capability for a consumer to request a print catalog online, and also have a rich media version of the catalog online that can be emailed to a friend or family member.
When utilized together, an ecommerce store and a catalog can be a powerful way to drive incremental product demand. To maximize the potential of your online business, consider a multichannel approach to meet the expectations and build the overall loyalty of your customer base.