5 reasons behind the comeback of catalogs with DTC brands!
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E-mail marketing and social media marketing have been in existence for two decades, and despite the digitization of customer experiences, catalog mailings have been increasing steadily since 2015. Moreover, catalogs have received surprisingly positive feedback from consumers – responses to catalogs have increased 170% from 2004 to 2018. People who are not online are not the only ones impacted – catalogs received via e-mail are extremely popular with Millennials.
Is the catalog making a comeback?
Some retailers appear to believe so. Physical catalogs are gaining in popularity as retailers like Patagonia, Nordstrom, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, and services like vacations and cruises. Pure-online retailers like Wayfair, Bonobos, Birchbox, and Amazon print their catalogs even though they pride themselves on providing optimal online customer services.
Where has this traditional, analog marketing tool gone that was supposed to be replaced by e-mail and social media? Are we going to see “the catalog effect” forever? What advantages do they offer to e-commerce companies? We’ve answered these questions using recent retail technology trends, decades of consumer psychology research, and our recent field experiment.
What is an Online Catalog?
Online catalogs, also referred to as digital catalogs or direct-to-consumer electronic catalogs, are extensive electronic catalogs on a website that showcase all the products you sell and allow shoppers to shop and make purchases. Back in the day, an online catalog might have involved posting PDF files of each chapter of the print catalog. D2C sellers can now offer their customers a fully searchable database of their product offerings, along with new tools that boost the customer’s shopping experience.
How to Make an Online Catalog?
It may look different for different businesses as they move from an offline to an online catalog depending on what they do and their customers. Before implementing an online catalog, however, each seller should consider a few common elements. Before implementing a digital experience, you should make sure your website and customer communication processes are in place.
You should also consider the following elements for your online catalog:
- Sync Products: Make sure your catalog and website have identical product names, SKUs, and model numbers. Online catalog users will be able to find items more easily using this feature.
- Curate Categories: While it’s essential to keep your catalog in place for returning customers, you will be able to create new categories when you go online to target specific groups of customers, from buyers to experts and seasonal shoppers.
- Power Up Search: It is easier to find customers who can achieve parts for those products with many variations through faceted search.
- Promote Your Website: To provide more product information, faster searches for parts and easier ordering from your online catalog, direct shoppers to your print catalog. If it is their first time visiting the electronic catalog, offer a discount.
- Set Up Quick Order Options: To speed things up for your shoppers, you can offer quick order options for popular bundles and frequently purchased items.
- Assure B2B Buyers They’re Still VIPs: Ensure you notify your top customers that the electronic catalog is here to help and that your staff is available to assist if they have concerns or questions. Thus, you will continue to serve these customers on a high-volume basis.
- Make Sure It’s Mobile: A large number of buyers don’t regularly have access to a desktop computer because they work remotely. A mobile-optimized site on your electronic catalog will cater to them.
As a backup to your digital catalog, you can continue to use a paper catalog. If your paper catalog is too extensive, you might try a smaller print run, only publishing for on-demand or reducing the number of publications. The use of your physical catalog can even go further because you can use it to offer buyers a sneak peek at some of your most enticing products or promotions and then send them to your website to complete their shopping.
Benefits of Digital Catalogs for Sellers
In addition to being beneficial to buyers, an online catalog can prove even more helpful to wholesalers. With extensive automation, your team will save time from having to manage manual orders and increase the accuracy and speed of the order. Also, ordering online opens up an entirely new market and selling possibility:
- New Products
Rather than waiting until the next print catalog date, you can share the news immediately. Launching and promoting new products is easy with a website.
- Volume Discounts
By offering discounts for large orders, you can encourage your customers to buy more. Customers can apply those discounts to their cart and see their pricing on a website.
- Online Specials and Bundling
By offering online-only specials, you can help clear out inventory and encourage customers to try new products.
- Free Shipping
You can offer free shipping to customers who order from your online catalog, helping to stay competitive in a competitive market.
- Standing Orders
Customers will be able to create and manage automatic recurring orders on your website, saving them time and ensuring consistency of stock. In this way, you can increase the lifetime value of your customers without intervening manually.
An online catalog does not limit the product assortment, price, or shopping experience of your customers but lets you decide at any time what products to offer. Maintaining current prices, keeping your customers satisfied, and managing your business efficiently can be accomplished using an online catalog. The time is now to transform your business into the digital age.
Take Your Digital Catalog to the Next Level
As a result of digitalization, your sales reps are empowered, a broader customer base is attracted and converted, and you can remain agile and competitive. It is hard to imagine D2C commerce without online catalogs. A great website is necessary to create a spectacular online catalog.
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