2005 CATALOG PRINTING Outlook — Still Making the Sale

Missing the Boat

Why should printers care how the sale is completed as long as the printed catalog continues to play an integral role? As the report points out, “by only measuring their call center sales, marketers may be under-valuing their catalog mailings by up to 50 percent and making the wrong mailing decision on up to one third of rental lists.”

It is in their own best interest for catalog printers to work with their customers to develop a means for accurately gauging the value of catalog mailings. Catalogers need a true assessment of sales resulting from traditional mailings as they increasingly adopt online marketing opportunities such as e-mail campaigns, search site tie-ins and online affiliations.

The longer term competitive concern is whether increased comfort with online order placement and the ever-growing level of broadband connectivity will lead shoppers to bypass the printed catalog and immediately call up a Website.

In 2000, conventionally completed catalog order sizes were 13 percent higher than online orders, notes the Abacus industry trend report. Average order sizes have since converged, as consumers have become more comfortable with Websites and marketers have gotten more effective at up-selling and cross-selling online.

According to the report, the Tools category has seen the fastest growth in total purchases, rising 16 percent last year. Men’s Products and Senior Products both saw 9 percent increases in sales, while the Gifts sector recorded a 7 percent growth in sales. Home Décor and Furnishings remained steady, while Apparel and Accessories experienced a 5 percent decline.

DoubleClick Inc. sponsored a related study—”The Changing Role of the Catalog for Multi-Channel Retailers”—that was conducted by the J.C. Williams consulting group. Among its key findings is that “the future of the catalog lies in. . .tailoring smaller versions of catalogs to multi-channel customers and high-value customer segments, while leveraging customer data.”

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