For decades now, companies have advertised their wares using seasonal or annual catalogues. These publications were well designed and carefully crafted. For many businesses, it was their main way of getting in touch with customers. They could include new products, relevant services, and distributor information.
Catalogues also generated major business for printing presses. They could be planned for and banked on, just like diaries and calendars. While printed catalogues are still relevant, there is an increasing shift towards the digital way of doing business. Almost every company now has a website or at least a social media presence.
It, therefore, makes sense to have a digital catalogue in addition to your physical one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a replacement, at least not yet. You can have one professionally produced to cater to your online audience.
Keep in mind that digital design isn’t the same as physical print layout, so hire a professional catalogue designer, Sydney serves as home base for quite a few. Things to consider are lightweight graphic interphases for quick loading. The visuals have to be hi-res enough to let customers zoom in but light enough for easy browsing and page flipping.
The catalogue also has to render on various devices, from mobile phones and tablets to smart TVs and commercial screens. Selected fonts need to be legible at a glance, and pricing needs to be clear and convertible to a different currency.
It’s never a good idea to just take your printed catalogue and scan it for online use. You need to pursue it as a completely new project. Now that the how is clear, let’s look at the why. What are the reasons for adding an online catalogue to your marketing collateral?
They’re kinder to the environment
While there’s still a good number of flat-earthers and global warming rebuttals, the impact of human activity on the world is difficult to brush off. A vast majority of our natural forestry has been destroyed, and it’s affecting our climate, lifestyle, and natural resources. One way to combat this is to minimise the use of paper so that fewer trees have to be cut down.
Using a digital catalogue not only saves the forests, but it also reduces environmental toxins that may have been released during the paper-making process. Lots of other resources get used up, like water, energy and so on, and these can be conserved as well.
Digital catalogues are cheaper
The main cost implications for digital catalogues are design fees and photography charges. These are already in your catalogue budget, so you won’t really feel the pinch. Other costs like printing and distribution will be eliminated because all you have to do is upload the catalogue to your domain.
You may worry about domain fees, but compared to printing costs, they’re marginal. Also, upgrading and refreshing a digital catalogue is faster, cheaper, and easier than reprinting a new one, so your long-term costs will drop as well. At the same time, you reach a wider audience on a smaller budget, so there’s a much bigger ROI.
They’re more attractive
When you’re producing a printed catalogue, you’re restricted on the quality you can produce. Your budget will influence the kind of paper you can use, and your printing press may limit the number of colours you can select. Even with digital printers, producing a full-colour catalogue takes far more time and money, especially if it’s glossy.
Online catalogues have no such barriers. You can use as much colour and as many fonts as you like. Plus, a digital catalogue looks glossy on any device, so you don’t have to splurge on magazine quality or skimp on newsprint. It also reduces your legwork. There’s no need to follow up and manage distribution chains. You just upload it once, and you’re done.
They’re easier to edit
If you’re in charge of marketing, you know the agony of printing thousands of catalogues only to spot a typo. With online catalogues, errors in typography can be fixed in seconds. You can just as easily make customer-facing changes like marking items that are out of stock and announcing new merchandise.
Online catalogues are essentially ‘live’ showrooms. If you design and interlink it effectively, customers can click on their item of choice, get redirected to a payment page, buy the product or service instantly, and even order delivery. It only takes a minute, and this convenience will largely enhance your sales volumes.
They offer a vast research database
Arguably the best reason to develop an online catalogue is metrics. Your digital brochure will give you a rich pool of customer information. The order process gives you a chance to ask for their email and contact information, and this can be used – with their permission – for additional marketing efforts.
Even if they don’t opt for your newsletter, your catalogue can harvest crucial data. You can tell which items attract the most attention regarding window shopping, which layouts convert into sales, where carts are abandoned, and what browsing patterns consumers follow. This data can help you decide what products to improve, discontinue, or discount.
Browsing data can also tell you which areas of the catalogue get the most visitors, and you can use that to rearrange your layout and position your highest profit earners in those sections. This alone is worth making the move to digital for.