Customers like Catalogs. Here’s What Retailers Need to Know.

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Retailers and wholesalers alike are becoming reacquainted with the benefits of print catalog marketing

Along with 80s synth music and the giant panda population, print catalogs are making a comeback. Retailers and wholesalers alike are becoming reacquainted with the benefits of print catalog marketing for their eCommerce stores, even as online shopping eclipses traditional commerce in countless sectors.

With so many aspects of the customer experience going digital, how is it that print catalogs remain effective? And, more importantly, what can you as an online seller do about it?

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Catalogs Exist in the Real World

When you’re focused on selling and marketing online, it can be easy to forget that there are places and people the internet cannot always reach. Tangible marketing materials like print catalogs give your business an offline presence, something which can be difficult to establish in an online world. Giving your customers the opportunity to connect with your products while offline helps keep your brand at the forefront of their minds.

 How to Make it Work: When it comes to print media, tracking buyer behavior can be tricky. While you can’t always know if your customer received their catalog or how long they looked at it, you can know if the catalog led them to your site. By associating URLs and promotional codes with items in your catalog, you can track the origin of catalog purchases.

They’re Great for Branding

Print catalogs can be a dream come true for eCommerce stores that need to expose, promote, or even just reinvigorate their brand. The internet is often cluttered with competing voices and distractions that can lead visitors away from the content you’ve invested so much in. A catalog offers an exclusive, controlled creative space, putting your products and brand front and center.

How to Make it Work: An offline catalog has the potential to command your prospective customer’s full attention. Use this opportunity to set your brand apart from the rest, demonstrating what makes your company and products superior.

They Can Be More Accessible

Not everyone likes to make purchases online. Some don’t even like to shop online. This could be a small minority or a vast majority of your market, depending on your target audience. Either way, overlooking this group leaves room for a more accommodating competitor to sweep up your potential sales.

How to Make it Work: Distributing a print catalog gets your company into hearts and minds it might not have the chance to reach through digital media. While it’s important to direct customers to your website, advertising non-digital purchasing options may keep this crowd invested.

They Open Channels

While appealing to the above-mentioned groups is important, not everyone who prefers a print catalog to a digital one is averse to online purchasing. A catalog that points to your online store can provide an excellent bridge between traditional shopping and online purchasing. One study discovered that 20% of a website’s first-time buyers made their purchase after getting the associated company’s catalog. These shoppers were found to spend 150% more than new customers who had not received a catalog. This study indicates that catalogs can effectively convert and motivate customers, yielding shoppers who are both ready to buy and willing to spend a bit more.

How to Make it Work: If your customers are arriving ready to buy, let them buy. Don’t make catalog shoppers sift through your site for their desired products. Make sure all your product names, SKUs, and IDs are consistent between your site and catalog. Use a Quick Order form to make it easy for shoppers who have found what they want in the catalog to place an order on your website. Offer faceted search to help visitors track down specific items and discover relevant products.

They’re Not What They Used to Be

The typical product catalogs of yore were massive, wordy, and info-packed. Today’s catalogs need to appeal to a market that has grown accustomed to stunning visuals, interactive websites, and catchy headlines. An effective modern print catalog is image-heavy and tells a compelling story. The reader is treated to visualizations of the products in use and just enough descriptive text to pique their interest, encouraging them to get online to learn more.

How to Make it Work: Invest in creating catalogs that customers will actually want to read. Educate them gradually with helpful illustrations, easy-to-read text, and succinct product descriptions. Reserve the lengthy descriptions and spec sheets for your online catalog, where shoppers who have been won over by the print version can be directed.

The return of the print catalog has proven beneficial for enough online sellers to merit consideration by the wider eCommerce world. Print catalog distribution may not be for every merchant, but those who give it a try may be surprised by the results. With careful production and strategic refinement, a print catalog could make a profitable addition to your eCommerce marketing strategy.

The return of the print catalog is just one of many trends you can’t afford to ignore. See what else is happening in the world of eCommerce.

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