It is happening more often—an interesting reverse trend. New e-commerce companies recognizing the need to create greater awareness are producing print catalogs to help accomplish that task.
Flush with Internet success, the exciting reality of creating a Web site and actually attracting visitors from everywhere who browse and buy spurs these companies to create new categories of catalogs.
The Naissance maternity catalog is typical of this phenomenon. Naissance began operations two years ago as a retail maternity shop in a prestigious mall in suburban Los Angeles. The Internet site, www.naissancematernity.com, was developed soon afterwards. While the retail shop new business from as far away as Beverly Hills, CA, the Web site is pulling in new business from all over the country.
Even more interesting is that average Web site orders have a higher ticket value than in-store sales. Pregnant women in Texas are especially supportive and generous spenders.
The Internet is mysterious and wonderful, in many ways like direct mail. But in mail order the basic assumption is that buyers are out there and the catalog (or offer) must reach them to create a sale. The reverse proposition applies to Internet sites, especially those that are not heavily backed by advertising and promotion. The Internet sale takes place when buyers reach the Web site. Either way, it is buyer responsiveness that creates the impetus for growth and expansion.
With the retail operation launched and running well, Naissance faced three growth choices: 1) opening more bricks-and-mortar store locations; 2) developing a wholesale business by representing new maternity designers; or 3) creating a catalog in the store’s hip merchandise image to reach the entire domestic market.
The first option, opening additional retail outlets, presented several major stumbling blocks. The first was a combination of the cost of opening new retail stores and finding the proper locations at affordable lease rates. Second was learning the techniques of multi-store management. A third problem was becoming attuned to the likely changes in merchandising and accessorizing from location to location.