Digital Marketing Blog

Ecommerce is changing online catalogs
15 Sep 2017

How Ecommerce Is Changing Online Catalogs For the Better

Catalogs have been a key element for retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, manufacturers, and merchants for decades. As a place to display any type of goods or products for sale.

However, as both consumers, as well as B2B customers, are increasingly moving their buying behavior online, print catalogs are progressively being replaced by online catalogs. 

Related: How To Improve Speed to Market as a B2B Distributor

As a matter of fact, as more and more people are buying online in general, many industries have had difficulties keeping up with the changes in buying behavior. 

However, the good news is that more and more businesses have seen the necessity of adapting to the modern consumer behavior in the new omnichannel world. And they are doing a very good job at it!

Modern consumer behavior is forcing businesses to improve for higher efficiency, more engagement, and a more seamless eCommerce experience. Technology is constantly evolving and this admits for new eCommerce business models.


How do companies handle this demanding modern consumer behavior? 

Meeting the challenge

As consumers and B2B customers are demanding more and more engaging experiences and as shopping is moving online, web shops, manufacturers, wholesalers etc. have changed the way they present their products. 



B2C: As more than 65% of consumers conduct online research before they shop, it amplifies the need for retailers to optimize the digital experience.65 (1).png

It's no longer good enough to deliver a printed catalog in the mailbox and hope for orders to tick in. And a flat and static PDF no longer does the trick. 

According to BigCommerce, people are placing orders everywhere from the bed to when they are on the go. 


2017-09-13 13_50_33-Consumer Behavior in 2017 [Infographic]-629548-edited.png


This means a higher expectation to be able to find the needed information and inspiration online. 

Many companies now offer digital inspirational catalogs, which increase time spent on page. Yves Rocher, for example, has digitized their printed brochures. They launch a new brochure every 3 weeks (17 per year), which is distributed to their sales force of 70.000 people.

With nearly 3 minutes on the digital brochure per visit; it means format and content are appealing for consumers. 

BONUS INFO: The brochures is the only one of their content pieces which goes viral on Facebook: 

Untitled design (2).png

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B2B is no exception when it comes to online research. Contrary to what you might think, the number is sky high here. 

According to an Accenture study, a whopping 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process.



The B2B companies often have an extensive product portfolio, resulting in a large number of catalogs. This complicates the problem of keeping information easily accessible. Luckily, manufacturers, suppliers etc. are following the tendency and moving their product catalogs, certificates and so forth online. 

As a consequence, many larger businesses have arranged their online catalogs in digital binders - or so-called ebinders that make search and order seamless. 



Mueller Company, for example, uses a binder functionality to organize their many catalogs, certifications etc. Each flipbook is like a catalog section. 

The best part is this:

Because their online documents are structured, it pretty much updates itself automatically. When new flipbooks are added to their account the system channels these new online publications into the binders. 

This saves time. 

Today, this is one of the best, most efficient ways to approach online catalog management. 



Companies in all industries have also stepped up their online appearance, attempting to get audiences to stay longer on their site and to take some sort of action. 

Many online catalogs are embracing interactiveness in both B2C and B2B and are more efficient in converting the browsing audience into real customers. Thanks to better technology and a more creative and human or call it a more personal approach. Flat and static PDF's are replaced by digital catalogs. And digital catalogs are becoming more and more engaging. 

But, in order to live up to the high demands of the ever impatient online audience, companies must invest a bit of time in making that engaging content. 

The new digital catalogs must contain some sort of engagement to be truly effective. If you as a business want to use your online catalogs to actual conversions in one way or another (collecting new leads or getting direct sales) it's no longer enough to just have online content.

To avoid that your online audience is bouncing away (and never coming back?), you must make engaging content that hooks them to take the important next step. 

You can easily follow some of the best practices in online catalogs that have already been proven to work. To mention a few: 

  • Video
  • Actionable CTA's
  • Animations
  • Forms
  • Pop-Ups
  • Internal links
  • ECommerce

skanska-magazine-ipaper-engage.gifExample from Skanska, who does it really well with engaging B2B catalogs


Related: B2B eCommerce Product Catalog - How to Use it Actively for Lead Generation Today


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Speaking of taking that next step.

Online catalog technology has progressed greatly over the last couple of years. Today, you are left behind from the competition if you don't have an eCommerce integration between your web shop and your online catalogs. There are shop integrations available that connect these two elements, making potential customers shop directly from where they are: your online catalog. 

A smooth integration between your web shop and your digital catalogs can have a huge impact on your sales. 

It's widely known that the fewer the steps in the buying process, the higher the conversions. Many companies have seen that when connecting their digital catalogs with their eCommerce solution, sales increases. When catalog browsers can easily add to cart without leaving the inspirational environment of the catalog the sales tick in. 

Some B2B companies use the catalog eCommerce integration to let potential customers place orders directly from the catalog via email. Another way of easing the order process of a busy purchaser.  

4. Better shopping experience

ECommerce is changing the shopping experience for the better. When you can purchase directly from the catalog and don't have to leave it to find the product on the web site it reduces friction. 

Making products easy to add to cart from all sources ought to be top priority from anyone in eCommerce. 

As in below example, where Yves Rocher Slovakia has an integrated catalog eCommerce solution:

2017-09-14 13_09_54-Yves Rocher, internetový predaj kozmetických výrobkov na tvár a telo, parfumov a.png


making it simple to add products to the cart directly from the catalog: 

2017-09-14 13_09_39-Yves Rocher, internetový predaj kozmetických výrobkov na tvár a telo, parfumov a.png


Companies can instantly update prices, conditions, delivery dates etc. in the online catalogs without having to send out a new link to the publication. Whenever the potential buyer opens up the publication, the new information is there. 

This quick, immediate way of information update, eases communication and simplifies the process for both supplier and buyer.

All in all, it saves time and demands less back and forth communication.  


Online catalogs have better distribution and shareability options than print catalogs and PDF's. 

Today's online catalogs are easily distributed via email, newsletters, and social media. More over, the receiver has the option of sharing the link to the catalog to coworkers and partners, just by clicking share or forward the email. 

Unlike with PDF's, there's not tedious wait for the document to download and the receiver doesn't have to download any software to read it. Internet access is all it demands. 

With eCommerce catalogs, it has become easier to share special offers and just as important to share special messages and environments, which you can't create in the same way on a web shop.

The merger of inspirational catalogs and eCommerce in the same place is a winning combination. 


Everything in online catalogs can be tracked - and analyzed! This gives you a huge advantage as a supplier, as you can optimize accordingly.  

Unlike in a web shop, where it's more difficult to get a quick overview of every single web page, digital flipbooks provide you with a heatmap function to give you that full overview by a single click. 




Whenever it's required anyone with access to the platform can see where the interaction is. 

Thanks to the technology, you can easily see where potential customers click and where they don't. Invaluable information for both the catalog designer, sales manager and marketing manager.

This pinpointed clicking tracking makes it easy to optimize the next eCommerce catalog. Do you need to add bigger, different or more visible shopping icons? Maybe even animated ones? 

Do your audience click on places, which you would never have thought of such as your company name in a headline or body text? 

Improved tracking and analysis lead to improved catalogs, which in turn catalyzes into a more smooth shopping experience for the end user. With optimized presentation of goods, more visible shopping icons and the removal of visual clutter, the eCommerce catalog is more efficient than non-merged catalogs and web shop and than both printed catalogs and PDFs.  


The power and function of online catalogs have already improved significantly since eCommerce integration became a reality. But what does the future look like for online catalogs? 

No doubt, technology will keep improving. Making the most smooth experience for both creator and viewer. This also includes more focus on mobile-first commerce with more responsive online catalogs.  

You can expect to see even more engaging eCommerce catalogs that make the path from browsing to actual purchase more effortless. 

More companies will make inspiring messages in a contained environment. The most digitally focused companies will discard the printed versions. 

With automated link import becoming more and more used, creators of catalogs will get more time on their hands to create the necessary engaging elements that make the readers take that important next step. 

In the B2B sector, you will no doubt see a greater move from print to digital. This implies new ways of doing business and also here more use of omnichannel.

Suppliers and manufacturers will optimize their over all sales processes and adapt to the increasing need of a more flexible way of placing orders. 


Related eBook: Designing for Digital

400px LP image_designing for digital_ebook-238104-edited


ECommerce is here to stay. And as long as consumers, as well as B2B costumers, are requesting a speedy, inspiring, flexible and smooth shopping experience, online eCommerce catalogs will continue to play a large role. 

The good news: 

Thus, digital flipbooks are only going to be even more engaging as well as technologically integrated with web shops looking forward. 

Making the digital shopping experience more smooth for both buyer and provider, as well as having a positive impact on the bottom line for those companies who embrace this technological possibility. 

Try it now - Sell directly from your flipbook.

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About the author

Bettina Oksen Bendorf

Bettina Oksen Bendorf

Bettina is an Inbound Marketing Specialist. I have a passion for creating relevant content with focus on the receivers’ needs. Always with the customers’ point of view in focus: “What’s in it for me?”. Chocolate lover and fitness junkie.

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