Catalog Deliveries Made Via iPad

Discussion
Apr 21, 2011
George Anderson

While some merchants have either reduced the numbers of
paper catalogs they send out every year or eliminated them entirely in favor
of the online channel, retailers still mailed roughly 20 billion catalogs to
American consumers in 2010, according to The Wall Street Journal.

For
those looking to cut down on postage while still putting catalogs (literally)
in the hands of consumers, there’s the Apple iPad. And where there are iPads,
there are apps. The latest is called Catalog Spree from Padopolis and it delivers
a marketplace of electronic catalogs from merchants including Artful Home,
DwellStudio, Filson, NapaStyle, Serena & Lilly, Tea Collection and others.

"Catalog Spree was designed to give today’s mobile shopper exactly
what they want: everything and anything, immediately with a magical user experience," said
Catalog Spree co-founder and CEO Joaquín Ruiz, in a press release. "Much
like the iBooks experience, people will have their favorite catalogs at their
fingertips when using Catalog Spree. Shoppers will also have the chance to
discover great new stores that offer exactly what people are looking for, all
from one app on their iPad."

Harold Egler, vice president of direct sales,
Filson, said, "We want
to serve our customers in any way they want to shop. That’s why we operate
in multiple channels — via our website, a traditional call center, our
stores in Seattle and Portland and through a wide distribution network of other
retailers. We see Catalog Spree as an opportunity to make Filson products available
to iPad users in a very interactive way."

Discussion Questions: Will the iPad and other tablet devices mean the end of printed catalogs for all practical purposes? What aspect of the iPad’s technology do you think offers retailers the greatest opportunity to create a customer experience that spurs sales?

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15 Comments on "Catalog Deliveries Made Via iPad"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
10 years 14 days ago

The iPad, (or, more properly, tablets,) and apps are just platforms.

Will they eliminate written catalogs?

Did radio eliminate print? Did television eliminate radio? Did the Internet eliminate television?

The answer in all these cases is clearly, “No,” but each wave of innovation took market share away from the one that preceded it.

So print catalogs won’t go away but there clearly likely to be fewer and fewer of them printed and/or distributed as time goes on.

The real question isn’t whether or not catalogs disappear, it’s what digital platforms consumers will opt to view them on–tablet, laptop, phone, etc.

Max Goldberg
Guest
10 years 14 days ago

Before we declare that tablets will make printed catalogs obsolete, let’s remember that less than 10% of the population own tablets. That being said, tablets offer retailers many great ways to feature their products. From traditional-looking pages to interactive designs and video clips, tablets are far more innovative than a printed catalog. Cameras on tablets will enable consumers to see themselves using or wearing products. Consumers will be able to read comments from friends and other users and get feedback before making a purchase. Look for a revolution in catalog design and distribution.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
10 years 14 days ago

First, the opinion poll should have had some additional choices. Since making catalogs as we now know them is absolute not going to continue. Electronic communication has already made a major dent in the number of catalogs out there. But they will continue to serve a purpose and a market for a long time.

Just as with electronic books having had an impact on the market, paper books are not going to go away anytime soon, even though the book printing and distribution model is totally broken.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
10 years 14 days ago

While the population of iPad owners is still relatively small, I think it’s a bit premature to announce the end of catalogs. However, iPad sales are slightly less explosive than the initial sales of the Kindle. Look at what Kindle and subsequent e-readers have done to the book industry. Ask the folks at Borders and B&N. My sense is that these apps have the same potential for the catalog business.

Tony Orlando
Guest
10 years 14 days ago

The iPad catalog is a great idea to save money, and many generation X and the new kids on the block will love this. It saves tons of money, and printed versions can be sent out on request to the boomers who like to sit down and look at all the stuff at their leisure. Things are changing faster than I can think, so let the best idea win!

Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 14 days ago

Tablet computers may make catalogs obsolete someday, but not in the near future. Tablet penetration is growing rapidly but still tiny, and among older consumers who are more likely to shop via catalog tablet penetration is almost non-existent. Catalogs in general will become virtually obsolete at some point and tablets will no doubt contribute, but I wouldn’t write a eulogy for them just yet.

Jeff Hall
Guest
10 years 14 days ago

A convergence of forces–the quickly growing and substantial base of those who’ve adapted tablets as their primary means for consuming media, along with brands needing to identify print/mailing cost savings, make it essential for catalogs to evolve their business model to tablet technology.

Though this evolution has been somewhat gradual for newspapers, magazines and books, the sense is momentum is picking up pace, as evidenced by e-book sales outpacing paperbacks for the first time in February. Given the relatively short shelf life of a catalog (astounding that 20 billion were mailed in the US last year alone), it makes sense on so many levels.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 14 days ago

The objective of printed catalogs is to get the advertising message in front of people who would not normally receive it. A catalog is sent in the mail with the hope that the recipient will not drop it into recycle before they thumb through it.

Electronic media puts the reception of the message more firmly in the recipient’s hands. Receiving it is self selecting. That is better for the consumer, worse for the retailer.

Catalog marketers, wake up! This is all about redemption levels. Producing and mailing catalog is extraordinarily expensive. How many don’t generate even one sale? 90%? 95%? More? An electronic catalog can be produced and delivered at a fraction of the cost. And, perhaps more important, the recipients are pre-disposed to like the retailer and the products.

While catalogs are not yet dead, broadcast is dead. And despite the use of all types of metrics to make each catalog mailing more efficient, it is still broadcast.

Kai Clarke
Guest
10 years 14 days ago

This is only a new shift in communication. It is not replacing but only complimenting current methods. Perhaps someday we will see standard catalogs disappear, but not anytime soon….

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
10 years 14 days ago

The shopper wants more choice and control of the shopping experience. Would online catalogs reduce printing/mailing costs? More than likely. Is there wider potential distribution in the marketplace with a tablet device? Sure. Will it eliminate print? No. People do still feel the need to touch aspects of their shopping experience, whether they be catalogs, paper coupons or whatever.

Connie Kski
Guest
Connie Kski
10 years 14 days ago

Reading the Pottery Barn catalog on my iPad is really nice. It would be even better if it didn’t crash the system.

I think retailers will still need to send a direct mail printed teaser–possibly an email teaser to get the consumer to download the iPad app. Otherwise, how am I going to know about it?

Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
10 years 14 days ago

As well as the movements from “push” to “pull” and paper to electronic that all make good sense and are set to continue, we are also seeing the movement from mass to customized in this space.

For instance we are working very closely with Macy’s to develop even higher levels of relevance through versioning that is getting closer to personalized relevance in this space. This is not an easy challenge from a targeting or a production perspective when you consider the content interdependencies and fulfillment constraints.

Certainly digital solutions can make this easier to fulfill, but at the moment digital channels are not right for many customers. Even many customers that use digital a lot still respond better to direct mail.

This is a great way forward, but I agree with many comments that this isn’t going to change the game overnight.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
10 years 14 days ago

Consumers use various media at different times to access information. The question is which consumers use which media to browse and purchase from catalogs at which times? When that question is answered, catalogs need to be prevalent in all those forms. It might mean fewer printed catalogs but it is not likely to mean no printed catalogs anytime soon.

Rick Moss
Guest
10 years 14 days ago

Sorry but I’m not seeing a huge breakthrough with the emergence of iPad catalogs. How is this so much different than e-commerce websites? The answer is in the ability to create a more customized user interface with the app, which should not be discounted. But this is an incremental step in the digitization of media. I don’t see iPad apps suddenly killing print catalogs or even significantly speeding the rate of their demise.

Jeff Goldsmith
Guest
Jeff Goldsmith
10 years 6 days ago

Catalogs on a tablet are most certainly a different experience from catalogs on paper–and both have their advantages to both shoppers and catalogers. For shoppers, tablets will allow much more “value add” features such as interactivity, video, search capabilities, and the ability to receive catalogs wherever people are, even if they’re not at home near their mailbox. For catalogers, paper catalogs don’t offer the ability to learn what pages are being viewed, what products are being viewed, what items are being marked as favorites, how much time shoppers are spending within a catalog… In the 10 days that Catalog Spree has been available, we have served over 1 million catalog page views and we’ve seen an average of 20 minutes per session. That said, you’ll never be able to tear a page from an iPad catalog and tape it to your fridge.

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