Instead of just repurposing copy and images, rethink your Web catalog for more effective merchandising
Personalization and variable data printing are making their marks on the print catalog world, but the place where customized merchandising techniques are likely to shine is the Web. While a print catalog is static, a Web catalog is dynamic and can be generated in order to meet the needs of the customer at hand.
Explains Vahe Katros, director of retail applications at Blue Martini, a San Mateo, CA-based company that creates Web merchandising software:
There’s two issues to versioning catalogs: how many different merchandise assortments you can have, and how many items you can have in a given assortment. With print catalogs, the number of assortments is limited by printing and database technologies. The size of assortment is limited by paper and mailing costs in terms of how much you can afford to send to customers. There is no limit to the size or number of the assortments that one can deliver on an Internet commerce site. A million different people could have their own unique assortment with a million items each.
The first step many catalogers take when moving to the Web is “repurposing” catalog copy and images. Digital asset management makes this easy, but it is only the beginning. The added capabilities and limitations of the Web mean that the approach a Web catalog takes to merchandising should be different.
A Web catalog is non-linear, meaning that each user takes a unique path through the site based on his or her needs and choices. Effective Web merchandising directs that non-linear path so that the shopper finds the right products faster, removes barriers to checkout and upsells relevant add-ons to increase order size.
A Web catalog, then, can be customized to present fewer items to the shopper. Instead, it shows the right items with the right information. Each page can be dynamically generated—made to order—for each customer according to his or her need for products and deeper information.