Print Still King for Catalogers

While traditional catalogers are no longer the e-commerce naysayers they were in the late 1990s, print is still king, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s Multichannel Marketing in the Catalog Industry report.

The report, released on Dec. 11, also contains some significant milestones indicating that the traditional catalog the industry has truly embraced multichannel marketing. For example, more than 80% of respondents said they have consistent pricing, inventory, and fulfillment standards across all sales channels, according to the DMA.

The companies reported that Web sales in 2005 were 39% of total direct sales, compared with 38% in 2004. Also, the respondents said they believe 28% of their Internet sales were incremental, or would not have been made without their Website.

Though catalogers’ Internet sales barely jumped as a percentage of their overall direct sales from 2004 to 2005, previous years saw significant increases. Survey respondents reported that in 2002 their Internet sales were 19% of their direct sales; in 2003 they’d said that Web sales they were 29% of their overall direct sales, according to the DMA.

This was also the first year that 100% of respondents to the survey, conducted for the DMA by co-op database concern Abacus, said they use their Website as a sales channel.

Only 11%, however, said they considered their Websites to be their primary order driver. Seventy-four percent said they consider their catalogs to be their primary sales vehicle.

But respondents are clearly embracing interactive marketing at unprecedented levels. For example, for the first time in the 14-year history of the survey, e-mail promotions have displaced discounts and special sales as the most used tactic by respondents. Eighty-nine percent said they use e-mail promotions compared with 57% who said they use discounts and special sales, according to the report.

Also surpassing discounts this year as a top sales tactic used by catalogers were sales sections on Websites, with 66% of respondents reporting that they use them. Sixty-three percent said they use free shipping and handling as a sales driver.

RSS feeds, blogs and podcasts appeared this year for the first time as a sales tactic use by catalogers, with 9%, 9% ,and 3% reporting they use them, respectively.

Meanwhile, of the respondents who thought they knew, 78% said they believe they get a higher return on investment because they take a multichannel approach.

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