Catalogers Seeing Returns from Web

While direct marketing and retail channels continue to be a mainstay for
the cataloging industry, online sales are posting ever-greater gains,
according to figures from DoubleClick’s Abacus subsidiary.

Broomfield, Colo.-based Abacus, which operates one of the cataloging and
direct mail industry’s largest co-op databases, said it’s seen offline
catalog sales holding relatively steady in 2001, while the value of online
transactions increased 47 percent during the year.

Buyers who received a catalog and then bought online increased from 7
percent in 2000 to nearly 9 percent last year. For merchants marketing
products across both online and offline channels, consumer migration to the
Internet continued, with the number making online sales climbing from 10
percent to 26 percent from the first quarter of 2000 to the last quarter of

“We are seeing that multi-channel marketers have rapidly adopted a channel
shift in their business, which has important implications on how staffing
and inventory control decisions are made and demonstrates that catalogers
require a complete understanding of the interaction of all their channels
to achieve success,” said Abacus President Brian Rainey.

In addition, the data found that online buyers were proving some of the
most valuable, accounting for the highest percentage of sales in big-budget
product categories such as outdoor and leisure items. About 41 percent of
sales of recreational and outdoor enthusiast products came from the online
channel in 2001. High-ticket mail and female apparel followed, at roughly
36 percent.

The firm attributed the shift to the fact that these sorts of products’
cater to the young and affluent, which roughly parallels the Internet’s
heaviest user demographic.

While the findings — which are culled from Abacus’ database of 90
million U.S. households — would seem to serve as a red flag to offline
marketers to consider establishing an online sales or advertising channel,
DoubleClick also seized on the opportunity to make a soft sell for its new
ChannelView product, which tracks multi-channel retailers’ on- and offline

“An analysis of the catalog industry that focuses only on catalog results
is no longer complete, since a catalog mailing may result in a mail-order
purchase, an online transaction or a store visit,” Rainey said.

Reprinted from Internet
Advertising Report

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