Learning from CatalogsJanette Toral
Do you still remember the first time someone handed you an Avon, Sara Lee, and Triumph brochure inviting you to order one of its products? How did the pictures entice you, no matter how bit more expensive these products are compared to buying similar products from traditional stores? For the Filipino culture, catalogs are always an attraction to shopping. However, if one is given a catalog whose quality is less than those we got accustomed to, we immediately dismiss it as cheap or not trustworthy enough.
So how does this equate to e-commerce? In order for e-commerce to succeed in the Philippine context, our online merchants should think from a catalog perspective. Products must be promoted like a catalog. The advantage of the Internet is that it allows merchants to put more information about a product than a catalog that has limited space. However, as most online catalogs are handled by technical people, the marketing spiel does not exist.
I am convinced, more than ever, that in order for a website to succeed in the local market, it must complement it with an attractive catalog filled with exciting products.
There are 10 core competencies that companies must have in order to come up with a profitable catalog. They are:
Merchandising is the topmost core competency. This is where the target audience is defined, competitive analyses are made, product pools are developed, and inventory procedures are established, among others.
2. Niche, Positioning, Branding
The catalog must have a well-defined, well-executed persona that clearly differentiates them from its competition.
3. The Offer or Proposition
This is where you state what are you willing to give in exchange for a potential customer’s business.
4. Creative Execution: Design, Photography, and Copy
The design, photography, and copy must be handled carefully by someone experienced in merchandising.
5. Color Separations, Printing, Binding, Addressing, and Mailing
This is the final step in the catalog’s creative process. Quality is of utmost concern.
6. New Customer Acquisition
Building the customer list which is critical to a catalog’s success or failure. In the Philippines, this is taken care of through direct selling using agents.
7. Customer List Communication
Coming up with a strategy for communicating with customers based on history and various segmentation schemes.
Building a good customer database is critical to customer list communication.
Responding to customers’ orders promptly, courteously, and efficiently will be a great differentiator from the competition.
10. Testing, Measurement, and Analysis
This is where catalogers come up with strategies to ensure that each catalog will outperform its predecessor.
For local e-commerce sites, learning from catalogs can make players better in their offerings and strategies.