For an eternity our industry has been beholden to printed catalogues, an obligation that continues to be fortified by our sales teams who are steadfast in their argument that Retailers both need and want them. The fact is… this is changing and the charge is being led by the Retailers themselves.
And that’s the trick… make the catalogue replacement more interactive and entertaining to help your Retail partner cope with the replacement of a die-hard tool. In essence, draw them in… gradually.
And you don’t have to go cold turkey and completely eliminate the precious document in one hit.
And that’s always been another key fear of the no-catalogue policy… a decline in engagement and collaboration.
With printed catalogues, whatever markings are made (e.g. the classic, one-tick, two-tick, three-tick symbolism for preference) are typically cloaked and daggered as the retailer leaves the showroom or the sales rep leaves the store. With digital catalogues, these valuable markings are captured online and are used as signposts for the sales reps to collaborate on the order ensuring that opportunities (e.g. best sellers, marketed styles, promotions etc.) are all capitalised on.
Being able to capture the Retailer’s “intentions” in a digital environment also has a telling impact on inventory control. It’s an ultimate goal, but if you can capture a high percentage of Retailers likes before order submission (be it ticks or by size units) then you can use this information to guide early PO’s.
According to Dougall Walker, ex-General Manager, Volcom ANZ, digital cataloging revolutionized the way that Volcom ordered early delivery inventory.
It goes without saying (… but I’ll say it anyway) that cost and wastage are also huge downsides. The average print-run for a few seasons often equates to a full year’s subscription of a B2B e-commerce tool, and some. Speak to any Retailer and Sales Rep and both will admit guiltily to binning hundreds of catalogs every year. That money should also be spent on digital sales and marketing initiatives that provide a far greater upside.
The old adage, “information is power” is highly relevant in the argument to gradually eliminate printed catalogue. In today’s digital world, a person’s digital footprint heralds amazing information about their preferences. Convincing your Retail partners to adopt the digital environment allows you to track their product views and garner information that otherwise stays in their heads. For example, a product that is viewed multiple times but not ordered may reflect over-pricing or incorrect fabrication. This becomes an opportunity.
Another considerable downside of a printed catalog is that it’s just a printed catalog. You still have to print your excel order form and your look book as well so the printing and pre-production work goes up another notch. Combining your catalog, order form, look book, digital marketing assets and education information into one, easy to use, updateable and accessible medium makes a lot of sense to you and your Retailer.
So… to print or not to print… there lies the question. No doubt there’s a significant upside but the real challenge is in the journey to becoming completely digital. “Don’t rush it” would be the ultimate advice and run a detuned, less expensive catalog (possibly an export straight from your B2B) in parallel with your digital environment and work patiently with your team and partners to herald in a more timely and collaborative way of doing business. It’s a journey that is worth embarking on today!