In ancient times — say 10 years ago — catalogers prided themselves on having a precisely measurable medium. They were the scientists of the marketing world. Most catalogers took the majority of their orders by phone and spent a great deal of effort capturing source codes and order IDs from every call. As computer technology and database expertise became cheaper and more widely available, we were not only able to measure precisely which customers responded to our mailings, but also what they bought and from which editions of our catalogs. We measured the performance of every square inch of every edition and smugly thought
Congratulations, catalogers! We’ve won the battle against the “pure play” e-tailers. We all said they couldn’t last, and now they are dropping quicker than power lines in a Wisconsin ice storm. At the same time, catalogers have brought to the Internet channel all of the great assets we knew we had. Merchandising, graphics and copy capability, systems and fulfillment. The results are in, and the catalog business is migrating successfully to the Internet more quickly than any other type of business. With all the great new Internet business for catalogers shown in the chart below, shouldn’t we be experiencing the best of times?