Boost Your eCommerce Sales with Online Catalogs

By Sara Napier BurkhardSeptember 30, 2022Content Marketing, Business

Today, so many of the goods we purchase and services we book are done so virtually. Just take a look at the items in the room around you and consider how many of them were discovered, compared, and eventually purchased through a website. From the shoes you put on this morning to the device you’re reading this from, there’s a good chance it was researched and purchased online. This is why an eCommerce branch of your business is essential in order to find success with today’s consumers. 

Your business deserves a good spot in the digital landscape, and just as direct mail catalogs completely revolutionized the way people could shop in the last few hundred years, online catalogs help today’s eager shoppers do the same. The modern consumer can organize major purchases through their favorite apps. They can socialize in communities that exist entirely online and rely on perks like having the items they want to be delivered right to their doorstep. 

An online catalog can help your customers continue the shopping experience they’ve become accustomed to while providing a more immersive experience from the comfort of their own homes (and laptops). Discover how Issuu can help you boost your sales with an online catalog.

The Importance of a Product Catalog

You may be wondering: where do online catalogs fit into online shopping? While today's buyers can do so much online shopping by simply opening an app and clicking around a few times, not all purchases are meant to be made instantaneously. Some require careful consideration, months of planning, and consultation between stakeholders and experts – especially for large purchases like property or luxury goods. With a digital version of your catalogs, you can use your online space to help your customers stay with your products and easily share the items they’re considering while giving them the space they need to make a proper decision.

But your customers don't have to make a significant purchase to want to take a little more time with the items they’re buying. The need for the casual catalog hasn’t gone away. Many consumers still consider shopping a pastime, so the urgency of an online flash sale or a limited drop need not always apply. Catalogs have always been a way for consumers to learn about new products, explore different categories, and take a closer look at a brand’s offers. This is where businesses have the chance to show off all their products and services, which makes for a powerful sales pitch – one that customers engage with on their own schedule and on their own terms.

How Digital Catalogs Boost Online Sales

Catalog marketing has always been an important part of boosting consumer sales. Major retailers like IKEA, Crate and Barrel, Lands’ End, and Free People still send glossy catalogs to their customers. This is an integral part of marketing because it allows readers to spend time with the products. According to a recent survey by the United States Postal Service, 72% of those surveyed said browsing a catalog made them more interested in the brand’s products. An impressive 84% reported they purchased a product after discovering it in a catalog. 

Using an online catalog gives you the added benefit of skipping the mailbox and saving on printing costs while targeting your customers directly in the spaces they’re visiting online. There are also several avenues to share the new catalog without spending more than some time. You can spread the word through your email newsletter to your regular subscribers, communicate throughout the month on your social media channels, and even embed the catalog onto your website, so the newest collection always greets your visitors. Here are some ways your digital marketing gains a boost through online catalogs.

1. Digital Catalogs Act as an Additional Webpage

One of the most significant advantages of using an online catalog is that it becomes an extra branch of your website. You can even make the experience just as interactive as your website by adding links and embedding videos to show off more detail about the product. This gives your customers the chance to make a more informed decision about their purchases and becomes a shoppable addition to your site, providing the opportunity to go into more detail but saving space on your website.

2. Online Catalogs Enable Users to Shop Directly

When we look at the customer journey, we know an informed customer turns into a motivated one. Good content marketing is all about providing key information about a product or service. With a catalog, you have the space to go into detail about your products over several pages and answer all questions your customer might have. From there, you can make the buying process almost instantaneous. With Issuu, digital catalogs can be integrated with links to your eCommerce store. 

Whether you want to add ‘buy’ buttons to your online catalog designs or simply upload your design without any modifications from the print version, you can use Issuu’s shopping links feature to highlight the sections you’d like to make shoppable. Visitors can buy directly from each catalog, eliminating the extra step which would take them to your website. Here’s how the shopping link feature looks in a catalog:

3. Virtual Catalogs Provide Context for Short-form Content

Short-form content is everywhere in digital marketing. From social media captions to catchy GIFs in email blasts to IPM banners on your website, these quick bits of copy grab your audience’s attention and direct them to your offers. The idea is to keep things concise, so a supplementary piece of content is key. Online catalogs are an excellent destination for those short-form calls-to-action, as your readers can click into your publication, save it in a tab for later, and peruse at their own pace. 

Using a Linktree is also a helpful way to make your Instagram or TikTok posts come to life. It encourages followers to act and lands them on your website or additional web pages. Add your monthly catalog to the top of those lists, giving your readers a place to find context around the quick content about your products and services they discover during their next Instagram scroll session.

What to Include in an Online Catalog

Online catalogs should feel like the brands they represent. If you’re considering creating an online catalog, you probably already know what you’d want it to look like. You might even have a print version in the rotation that you’re looking to host online. Regardless, now you know the benefits of online catalogs for eCommerce sales, let’s talk about best practices.

Catchy Headlines and Product Descriptions

Your listings need to be consistent across your platforms. If you put a lot of effort into your catalog description, you could lose some of the momentum by not filling out your website with the same attention to detail. The opposite is also true. Most eCommerce sites have FAQs, size charts, or additional information about quality control somewhere in each product listing. Your catalog should have dedicated space for those things, and it should be easy to navigate from your product descriptions.

Product Photos and Videos

Your photos should always be high-quality shots of your products. These should be just as well-considered as you’d want them for print. You can also add videos to your catalogs, creating a new engagement element for your audience and creating a memorable mixed media experience that combines the visual work you might already be doing with social media, email marketing, and beyond. You have an opportunity to have more fun with the details and combine the creativity behind your copy, photography, and video.

Shoppable Links to eCommerce Site

One of the best reasons to put your catalog online is so that customers can shop them directly. Rather than just mentioning the URL in the copy of your catalog, you can add links directly to the products. Add a link to the product description copy or directly on the product's image, so all your readers have to do is scroll, see what they like, and click. It’s really that simple.

Tutorial on how to use Issuu's shopping links
Return Policy and Other Details

Just like your customers would want to find this information on your website, there should be a return policy and similar details shared clearly in the catalog. If you wish for your online publication to be just as shoppable as your site, this should be easy to find. After all, it’s all part of providing a stellar customer experience.

Fullscreen Sharing

Lastly, how you present your catalog can affect how your potential customers experience it. We all know the feeling of sitting down with a physical copy of a catalog, magazine, or just a good book and how you get transported into the content. We also know how it feels to enter a well-decorated store freshly staged with that season’s merchandise and how it makes us focus on the collection of items around us. Create a similarly immersive experience for your customers with fullscreen sharing. With Issuu, you can customize the background your catalog is presented on, so you can deliver a completely virtual, bespoke experience.

Effective Online Distribution with Issuu

Distributing your catalog has never been easier than with its digital version. You don’t have to worry about the waste that comes from printing and mailing out your catalog, and you can segment your distribution as much or as little as you like because there’s no limit to the number of readers you can attract online. Best of all, you can track statistics and learn all about where your customer base is most active and engaged with your content. Here are three ways to distribute your online catalogs:

  1. Website Embedding: embed your digital catalog onto a prominent place on your website. Any traffic that shows up on your site – whether that’s a random visitor on your homepage or a returning customer in your products sections – has the potential to become a paying customer. Your catalog makes it easier for them to see everything your brand offers and discover something new.

  2. Email Distribution: your email distribution list is a fantastic primary audience for your catalog. Add your newest publication to your newsletters and let your customers fall in love with your latest collection. With our GIFs feature, you can easily share a preview of your page-turning online catalog and grab your customers’ attention directly from their inbox.

  3. Social Media: social media is a must for effective digital marketing. Your brand is likely already well represented on the best platforms to connect with your customers. An online catalog makes it easy for those followers to read more about the offers you’re posting about on your feeds and in your stories. Use our Visual Stories feature to create derivative visual assets from your catalogs and stay on brand no matter which platform you use.

  4. Issuu Profile: Issuu is a platform for publishers and readers alike. Your Issuu profile page can be a central location for readers on our platform. They can follow your publication, bookmark it, add it to their favorite Stack to revisit any time, and always stay up to date with your latest upload.

eCommerce Catalog Examples

When you’re ready to bring it all together, we hope these examples will help you maximize your user experience.

1. The Body Shop At Home

The Body Shop has made a name for itself by marketing ethical beauty products that stay current with the trends, packaged in simplistic yet eye-catching designs. The brand has an additional branch called The Body Shop At Home, where independent sellers use catalogs to share the latest. The whole model is based on flexibility, so having a digital version of their product catalogs makes it easy for their sellers to share what’s new with their customers.

2. Pampered Chef

Another favorite among independent sellers is Pampered Chef. With their digital catalogs, they can share their distinctive kitchen tools with a broad audience. Whether used during their famous home-based parties or as a fun booklet for online customers to peruse, their catalogs are made easy to share.

3. Surftech

Surftech has become something of a California classic over the last three decades. Known for their durability, performance, and technology, they strive to offer surfers beautiful craftsmanship and advanced design techniques. Their digital catalog makes it easy for customers to stay up on their latest products and programs.

4. Engel & Völkers Mallorca

Engel & Völkers is synonymous with luxury, specializing in the brokerage of residential and commercial real estate, yachts, and aircraft throughout Europe. Their brokers in Mallorca find that one of their most successful marketing tools is their Finest Real Estate Mallorca catalog which features approximately 140 properties throughout the island with advertisements from partners. They publish it twice a year in print and digital versions.

5. Grogan & Company

The high-end auction house Grogan & Company uses catalogs to showcase their boutique collection. Specializing in the sale of fine art and jewelry, the historic Boston-based house strives to provide a personalized look at the international marketplace. In this catalog, they featured rugs and carpets from private estates and collections like those of the late Peter Tillou of Litchfield, Connecticut.

6. Litvak Contemporary

Litvak Contemporary is one of Israel's leading contemporary art galleries. Focused on introducing contemporary Israeli art and international artists to a wider audience, the gallery uses catalogs to inform about the latest exhibitions and works for sale. In the Wild Temper 2022 catalog, curator Hadas Glazer presents the work of Itamar Freed and Kristina Chan as well as glass artist William Morris.

Boost your eCommerce sales and expand your online reach. Get started with Issuu today.