Think about the last time someone in your family made a purchase that wasn’t groceries or a basic essential: clothing, accessories, books, movies, electronics, etc… Now picture the days or hours leading up to that purchase. What inspired them to buy that item? Did the purchase take place online, in store, or over the phone? Can you come up with one clear-cut answer? Probably not. Multi-channel shopping and buying continues to increase everyday and shows no signs of ever slowing down. That means that people are shopping, researching, and getting inspiration from multiple sources before pulling the trigger. And when furniture retailers are competing against online carts that can be filled with the click of a button, it may feel like it’s hard to grab the attention away from digital stores.
What if we told you that you shouldn’t be aiming for the digital consumer through digital outlets? What if we told you that you should be targeting them through their mailboxes and coffee table? Sounds crazy, right? But it’s true. According to the Direct Marketing Association, about 90 million Americans make purchases from catalogues, and 60% of them are women. The printed catalog is coming back stronger than ever, and it may be the greatest tool in your arsenal when it comes to pulling people away from online stores and into your brick and mortar buildings.
Over half of online shoppers report that they browse catalogues for inspiration, and the average expenditure for people who receive and buy from catalogues is $850 annually according to the American Catalog Mailers Association. Put simply, catalogues are helping people decide what and where to buy, and you have the ability to convince Mrs. Jones that you have all the solutions for her home before she decides what she is even looking for.
Catalogues provide a unique opportunity to illustrate your brand in fine detail because you can share your company’s history and introduce each department alongside photos of beautiful furniture. Williams-Sonoma was able to increase their direct-to-customer sales by 30% by introducing elaborate product descriptions and supplementary content like recipes. They found that by creating a relatable story, they could actually reduce the cost of producing and mailing catalogues. You can do the same by choosing an audience who will connect with your brand and cutting out products and content that doesn’t appeal directly to those people.
These points are all compelling, but I know you’re still having reservations. Catalogues are a lot of work. They require extensive conceptual insight and planning, plus carefully chosen products with persuasive content. From start to finish, a catalogue is a serious time and financial investment. It’s also worthwhile. If you can insert yourself as an inspirational powerhouse when Mrs. Jones is in the early stages of her buying process, you will be able to draw her to your store when she is ready to purchase. So embrace it: the printed catalogue is back in style!