With the holiday shopping season looming over us like a calm before the storm, there’s one thing we can count on: Our mailboxes getting stuffed with an explosion of product catalogs. For some, these are a welcome sight; for others, an obnoxious nuisance. From a marketing perspective, there’s nothing like putting a product catalog in front of people; it lets you guide their attention, giving them key products to focus on that will hopefully draw them to your (bricks-and-mortar or online) store and entice them to buy.
So, how does this mailbox spam translate to the web? At a basic level, a product catalog is a guide to a retail store. It highlights key items, shows products in context (like an outfit or a room setting) and allows customers to scan the offerings. This sort of approach is difficult in the online world. When customers land on the homepage for a large retailer, they have to choose product categories and then see tens or hundreds of items in a grid. So it makes sense that retailers would translate the “guided tour” experience that a print catalog offers customers to the web. In fact, retailers are increasingly moving in this direction.