Moosejaw Mountaineering Shares Its Digital Catalog Experience

May 19, 2009 12:14 AM  By

Considering a digital edition of your catalog? Moosejaw Mountaineering took the plunge into digital catalogs nearly two years ago. MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT senior writer Tim Parry talked to the outdoor gear and apparel merchant’s creative director Gary Wohlfeill about how digital catalogs are working for Moosejaw.

You’ve been doing print catalogs since 2002. When did you decide to incorporate the digital catalog, and what sparked that idea?
We talk a lot about the blurring of channels at Moosejaw, which we define as taking the best part of each channel and making it available across all channels. Our marketing strategy is designed to break down the traditional silos of each channel—direct mail vs. online cataloging—to give our customers a near seamless interaction with our brand in any channel.

Our catalogs are one of the very best things we do, and they are extremely effective at communicating Moosejaw’s unique brand. Printing a catalog is expensive, so an online digital version is a perfect way to get it out to as many people as possible and through each channel.

Online versions also allow customers to forward the catalog to friends via e-mail or to easily link to it on Web pages and blogs. The first catalog we went online with was our Fall 2007 book. This was a 72-page, magazine sized book.

Once you launched the digital edition, how did you market that to your customers and prospects?
We push it out via as many channels as possible; e-mail blasts, on the Web site, our blogs—Daily Remark and blog.moosejaw.com—Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, texting and on our mobile site.

What kind of drop in print circulation did you see after the first digital edition was launched—did many customers immediately request to be online-only?
We haven’t seen a drop in direct mail catalog requests in conjunction with the creation of digital versions. Our customers still love receiving the printed version in the mail. The digital versions simply allow our book to gain much greater visibility in other channels.

What kind of cost savings has the digital option brought Moosejaw?
It is extremely cost effective in getting more eyes on our catalogs. We’ve recently ramped up our plan to include more catalogs this year than we’ve ever done. We certainly plan to a digital version for each print book we push out.

Your digital edition is hosted by Dirxion. What did this company bring to the table, and what should catalogers look for in a service provider?
Dirxion brings a great platform that is always being updated with new features. It’s great to have the option to expand the online catalogs in ways unique to the online catalog channel.

A good example is the bubble that pops up when you hover over a product in the current online catalog. It pulls the product image directly from Moosejaw.com so that when a customer clicks through to the Website they are seeing the same thing.

If a provider is not constantly working to offer new features to its platform, you probably want to start looking around for someone else. The platforms are still young, so the room for new ideas and features is vast. For us, it’s important to have a provider that is able to work with us to develop new ideas that work for the brand.

Moosejaw has been on the m-commerce forefront. Does the digital catalog translate to mobile, or is that something that will have to wait?
Currently most mobile phone browsers don’t support flash well enough to view the current digital catalog. We will be promoting the Gear catalog in another week or so on the main site and will have matching creative on our mobile site (m.moosejaw.com.)

We also have planned a text to go out to our texting list offering customers rewards points for texting back the answer to a question they can only find in the online version of the catalog (Note: Moosejaw has had response rates as high as 44% on some of its texts.)

Features under development for the mobile site include a Web form with which customers can sign up to have a copy of the current catalog mailed to them, as well as an option to have a link to the online version e-mailed to them.