With online sales from the first quarter of 2014 topping $71.2 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, do catalogs still matter? At first glance, it’s easy to assume that most shoppers just head straight to Amazon or Google to make their next purchase. In this scenario, it would seem that there’s no need for bulky catalogs with glossy product photos to lure in shoppers – but a closer look reveals this may not be the case.
Even in our digital age, the printed catalog remains an important entry point for product sales. Consider the following, as reported by Referral Candy:
- Nearly one out of every two shoppers first browse a catalog before making an online purchase.
- More than half of all customers first browse a catalog before making a purchase either online or in stores.
It’s no surprise then that the average print catalog generates $4 in sales and costs only $1 to produce. That’s a pretty significant return on investment. Online shoppers that received a catalog in the mail made purchases twice as often as those who did not. Furthermore, these shoppers spent on average 163 percent more than those who did not get a catalog, according to recent research.
That’s one reason Restoration Hardware continues to mail its famed “source book” every year. Weighing in at 12 pounds, the 3,300-page catalog includes everything from 19th Century Italian gas streetlights to salvaged wood dining tables.
So why does Restoration Hardware offer this comprehensive product listing in its source book catalog? The majority of Restoration Hardware’s products are not available in stores. Sure, you can pop in to pick up towels or sheets, but the company’s higher-end furnishings can only be purchased online. While some customers may first browse the website for inspiration, the company says the catalog is the major driver for sales.
In fact, Restoration Hardware told investors it expects its revenue growth to accelerate in the second half of 2014 as a result of the source book. The company posted comparable-store sales growth of 18 percent in the first quarter, one of the highest among any major company in the retail sector.
Wall Street has responded positively to this growth and Restoration Hardware's stock has risen by 20 percent thus far this year, far outpacing its competition and the broader marketplace, according to Entrepreneur.
It’s not just Restoration Hardware that benefits from a spike in sales following catalog distribution. Vineyard Vines, a niche company selling high-end preppy attire, told CNBC that within days of a catalog drop there is a revenue spike for all business channels.
Combining Print and Digital: The Ultimate Catalog Sales Tool
The printed catalog is large, tangible and tactile. It’s easy to flip through in bed or while watching TV on the couch. Printed catalogs stay in homes for weeks, with customers repeatedly flipping back to the same products, giving brands multiple opportunities to tell their story.
Catalogs are not only a tool for driving sales, but also a means to differentiate your business from the competition, thanks to catalog customization. For example, depending on the recipient, the British retailer Boden will adjust a catalog's theme, shape and even its size.
But what about the digital world? Digital publishing apps, such as Walsworth Apps, are the perfect complement to printed catalogs. Catalog apps can be quickly updated so customers are always viewing the latest products and sales offers. And when products featured in the app are hyperlinked directly to the company's website, a purchase can be made in just a few clicks.
The Bottom Line
Catalogs continue to play a key role in successful product marketing, and combining print and mobile expands audience and increases sales.
Contact Walsworth to learn how we can help grow your business.