Live From E-Tail: Print Catalogs Still Not Dead

Washington—It wouldn’t be an Internet marketing conference without the “Are catalogs a dead breed?” debate popping up. Milton Pappas, executive vice president of corporate marketing and e-commerce at multititle conglomerate Redcats USA, addressed the topic during the Q&A part of his eTail session Tuesday.

“I don’t believe that catalogs will go away,” Pappas said. “When the Web first emerged, I think a lot of catalogers thought that was going to happen. But I don’t see that happening any time soon.”

But Redcats USA, which in last month sold its Missy division (Chadwick’s, Metrostyle, and Closeout Catalog Outlet) to Monomoy Capital Partners, is paying a lot of attention to the Web channel. In his session, Pappas was talking about improving the customer experience online to drive increased consumer satisfaction.

One of the Redcats sites Pappas focused on was, which sells the products from the company’s specialty-size women’s apparel titles Jessica London, Roaman’s, and Woman Within, as well as its menswear catalog KingSize.

The print catalogs drive a decent amount of Redcats site traffic, Pappas said. But he admits that Redcats has “economy of scale from a printing, paper, and postage perspective,” and many smaller catalogers can’t enjoy some of these discounts. “At the end of the day, I think you need to evaluate [the print catalog] on a company by company basis,” Pappas said.

But Pappas thinks merchants will start to present catalogs differently down the road, thanks to versioning strategies. “We are not there at this point,” he said, but marketers will create versions of catalog titles that are tailored as a tool to keep Web buyers coming back.

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