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The switch to online catalogues has been underway for several years - the pandemic has accelerated the change.

Here’s why: Digital catalogs are less expensive to produce than print, are more environmentally friendly and can fast track sales. Let’s dig a little deeper.

1. The bottom line is feeling fine

Digital is budget friendly. It saves printing and distribution costs. If you are bringing new products to market, then digital can save you a chunk of change. Why print thousands of copies of your catalogue when you can just produce one digital edition and let the internet do the heavy lifting.

In the US it’s estimated that each copy of a newspaper costs around 30 cents to produce and distribute, which is ten times higher than the digital equivalent and is likely far higher with print catalogues which are typically mailed direct to people’s homes and businesses.

2. Analytics are no gimmicks

Digital analytics provide you with unbeatable customer data. Discover how your readers are engaging with your products. Find out which are your most popular pages and links. See what devices people are using when viewing your catalogue. See how customers are finding links to your catalogue from other websites.

This powerful data can be used to boost distribution, and in doing so will drive sales; another reason why having a mobile-friendly digital version of your catalogue is paramount.

3. Never late or out of date

Digital catalogues are instantly available once the content is ready. Accelerate your presence to the marketplace. Better yet: A new product comes on stream, with digital, it can immediately appear on screen. There’s no pulping of old catalogues or waiting around for new ones to be printed. Customers are always viewing the latest version.

4. For the environment digital is heaven sent

Using digital means your old catalogues don’t end up in landfill and because distribution is all online there are no emissions from trucks and vans which inevitably contribute to climate change. Green credentials are increasingly important to customers.

5. Active search won’t leave you in the lurch

Active search allows your customers to find the products they’re looking for at top speed. Easy content linking and keyword search means sales aren’t lost. Archiving allows a whole suite of catalogs to be found in one place.

Inevitably searching for a product in a print catalogue is a much slower process that might involve repeated journeys to the index in the hope of seeing the product you’re looking for.

6. Interaction means more traction

Embellish your online catalog with captivating animation, 360-degree product views, colour-swatches and videos for increased engagement. Video can bring your customer’s online shopping experience to life: Host or stream your explainer videos to demonstrate how your products work.

7. Speed means sales don’t go off the rails

With digital, browsing can be turned in buying in seconds. Customers love a slick, fast buying experience. With print there are numbers to call or order forms to fill out.

With digital, customers can decide on a purchase and the deal is done in seconds. They can click to purchase products direct from your online catalogue or be re-directed to make the purchase on your ecommerce platform.

8. Social shares are cause for cheers

Leverage the power of social media to reach the widest possible audience. Create links from your social media accounts and blogs to your catalogues. If readers are impressed with your catalogue, encourage them to share with friends and followers. An endorsement from a friend is much more likely to result in a further sale.

But we still have a soft spot for print

1. It feels good like we knew it would

There is a tactile pleasure in viewing a glossy, beautifully printed catalogue particularly if you are selling a premium product. Sometimes you even get fragrant pages!

2. Say yes to less stress

We spend so much time online staring at a screen that it feels great to read a well printed magazine or catalogue. Cut out the digital noise, settle back and enjoy an analogue experience where the only thing digital are your fingers turning the pages.

Jim Preen
Post by Jim Preen
August 21, 2023
Jim Preen is crisis management director at YUDU Sentinel where he provides client specific advice on all aspects of communications and designs and delivers simulation exercises via the Sentinel app. Formerly, he was a journalist working at ABC News (US) where he covered stories including the Gulf War, the Bosnian conflict and the Concorde crash. He won two Emmys for his work.