Survey News: Web Moves Up As Channel of Choice for Catalog Recipients

The Internet is moving up as the preferred channel for sales spurred by catalog recipients. Only 43% of purchases spurred by catalog mailings were done at the catalog’s call center, while one third occurred online and just under one quarter were made at retail outlets, according to the 2004 Abacus Annual Catalog Industry Trend Report.

The trend toward Web purchases is an ever-increasing one: In 2003, 32% were conducted online, compared with 28% percent in 2002. And four years ago, catalog order sizes were 13% higher than online orders. But this year order sizes have reached parity as consumers have become more comfortable with websites and marketers have become more effective in up-selling and cross-selling online, according to the report.

Overall, the Catalog Industry Trend Report showed a 1.4% increase in catalog and Web site sales from 2002 to 2003. This growth in sales was a result of a 1.5% increase in the number of households purchasing and a 3.2% increase in the number of transactions during this period. These increases were offset slightly by a decline in average order size from $99 to $98.

The Tools category saw the greatest growth in purchases, rising 16%, followed by men’s products and senior products, both of which generated 9% increases in sales, while the gifts sector recorded a 7% growth in sales. Apparel and Accessories, the largest category in the Abacus database, experienced a 5% decline, while Home Decor and Furnishings remained steady.

The trend report is generated from a representative sample of DoubleClick propteries, including the Abacus B2C Alliance, ChannelView, DARTmail, SiteAdvance and others.

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