The line between catalogs and e-commerce continues to blur. An increasing number of marketers aim to learn whether they can present their paper catalogs online but in the traditional turn-the-page sense.
One of them is Junonia, which began testing a feature this month letting Internet users leaf through its winter catalog with mouse clicks instead of thumbs. The test runs through the holidays, then Junonia will decide the viability of its so-called online paper catalog. Nevertheless, the plus-size women's clothier — launched as a cataloger in 1995 — does not necessarily think its catalog and Web marketing initiatives are all that alike.
“We feel that our catalog does a much better job of expressing our brand,” said Tom Lindmeier, e-commerce director at Junonia, Eagan, MN. “Comparatively, our Web site has been more about selling particular items and not so much about telling stories with concern to collections, which is the strength of our catalog that we'd like to see more of online. The online paper catalog could play that role, and it will be an immediate sort of way of getting back in touch with customers without the high cost of mailing.”
To push the effort, the upper-left corner of www.junonia.com showcases a hyperlink ad with a shrunken image of Junonia's 56-page winter book. After clicking, the book enlarges and the viewer sees a picture of a woman in her mid- to late 30s on a snowmobile dominating the cover. Also appearing is a guarantee of Christmas delivery for items ordered on time. An e-mail campaign with the same copy and imagery went Nov. 14 to Junonia.com's customer file.
Whether at the Web site or in the e-mail, viewers can click to peruse hundreds of clothing products in the categories of tops, bottoms, jeans, outerwear, dresses/skirts, swimwear, great extras and lingerie. An index can be used to peek at a grouping of all 56 pages at once, and then each can be blown up in full.
Drop-down menus are available to go directly to a product or category if the user already knows the item or page number. In any case, the viewer can hit directional arrows to turn pages hosted by catalog-to-Web provider PaperCatalogsOnline, Annapolis, MD.
Meanwhile, selected items appear in a shopping cart at Junonia.com, but it's not noticeable to viewers that they are being bounced back and forth unless they look at their URL address box after clicks. Lindmeier said the project through PaperCatalogsOnline costs $2,000 and took a week to implement.
Other firms using PaperCatalogsOnline include Kid's Stuff Marketing, Farm Tek and Journal Books. And last month, the National Hockey League debuted a similar system at www.shop.nhl.com powered by RichFX, New York. Both the NHL and Junonia stated that the online “paper” editions could bridge the gap for catalog shoppers who have yet to order online.
“Being able to provide our customers a means to shop more in the way they like to shop is important,” Lindmeier said. “A paper catalog and a Web site are two different types of customer experiences. During our 10 years, we've found that there are advantages and disadvantages to both marketing venues. But we are trying to get our customers more active on the Web.”
Junonia was founded in 1995 when its president, Anne Kelly, noticed a direct marketing void for women sizes 14 and up. Her company mails 5 million catalogs annually to a demographic of 35- to 55-year-old women with salaries averaging $70,000. Since starting its Web site in 1999, 40 percent of sales has stemmed from online, and median order size has grown to around $150.
But Junonia has felt Internet-based growing pains along the way. For example, it learned that many online viewers have trouble spelling the brand, which is named after a rare, Florida Coast seashell and the Roman goddess Juno, a protector of women who's noted for her majestic size.
To make searching at Google and Yahoo easier, the retailer has periodically added 15 keyword purchases of “Junonia” misspellings to its pay-per-click programs over the past 18 months. The purchases were based on misspellings the company saw at PPC programs and its own on-site search box. One it recently bought based on such findings was “Junona.”
“The name's easy to misspell, and it's not an easily recognizable name,” Lindmeier said. “People don't know how to pronounce our name sometimes. We are not going to change our brand; we've had it for a good stretch. But many times, much of the misspelling has to do with the location of the alphabet letters on the computer keyboard. They miss a 'j' and hit a 'k.' We have been discussing purchasing the domain names that are popular misspellings for our brand, too.”
Christopher Heine covers CRM, analytics and production and printing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters