Operations & Fulfillment: How Catalogs Drive Your Business
The printed catalog is the main driver of traffic to the web. However, with all of the other touchpoints available to consumers today, how do we really know the impact of catalog mailings on web sales? And why do we give so much credit to the print catalog? There are a few reasons why, and they include the following:
- The process of matching back order files to mail tapes gives companies the strongest sense of how catalogs drive web business.
- When looking at your order curves, you'll see that online sales spike every time a catalog hits in-home
- Contact strategy testing: Try testing holdout panels in mail vs. no mail split tests. The mailed segments always perform better.
- A reduction in catalog circulation always results in a reduction of sales from the web.
While the internet has become the preferred way to place an order, consumers still prefer to shop from a print catalog. That's why it's important to understand the difference between sales that come through the web vs. sales that are generated from the web. Catalogers frequently say that more than 70 percent of their business is coming from the web. What they really mean is that 70 percent of their orders are coming through the web, not from the web. Perhaps 15 percent to 20 percent of their orders are coming from the web; the majority of their orders that came over the web were driven by a print catalog.
Customers and prospects place orders in different ways. For example, some use a toll-free 800 number to speak with a "live" person, others place their order on the web after receiving a catalog in the mail, and still others order through the mail (generally 5 percent or less). The older the customer, the more likely they order by mail or phone. It really doesn't matter which channel the consumer uses as long as they order. It's not the web vs. the catalog or the catalog vs. the web; it's all about getting the order.
All catalogers want to mail smarter. I'm sure that's your goal too. You want to mail less, drive more business to the web and increase profitability. Something you might consider is segmenting your one-time-only web buyers from your one-time-only catalog buyers instead of combining them into one RFM group. I often suggest segmenting 0-12 month, one-time-only web buyers from 0-12 month, one-time-only catalog buyers.
The catalog buyers always perform significantly better than the web buyers. Oftentimes, web-only buyers tend to be "item buyers." They search the web for a particular item, they find it and they make the purchase with no intention of buying from that company again. Catalog buyers tend to be "shoppers." They enjoy looking at every page in the catalog and their frequency of purchases is greater.