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Online catalogs in retail: 3 tactics you can implement today

Jan 17, 2021


  • Catalogs are a recognizable format for consumers
  • Retailers need to use catalogs across their online marketing channels to keep shoppers engaged

Online catalogs are one of the best assets in retail to produce reliable and scalable product demand. They are one of the few marketing assets in retail consumers actively want to engage with. They're a recognized format that will give you tangible results and add more power to your marketing mix.

One of the main goals for marketing teams in retail is to ensure there's a healthy flow of visitors coming into your stores. However with more and more shoppers going online, this goal is being challenged. And retailers have been forced into putting more focus on their ecommerce setup. 

Print catalogs have long been a trusted method to drive shoppers to stores. And using them online is no different. Sending your latest discounts and deals straight to your customers, whether through their mailbox or inbox, almost guarantees traffic. But that's not all. Online catalogs have an added benefit. They give retailers an opportunity to give shoppers an overview of their products.

Only 54% of online shoppers are searching for a specific item compared to 73% when shopping in-store. So, by putting your catalog online, you can help shoppers discover more products and give them a logic starting point for their buying journey.


But how do online catalogs fit into a data-driven decision landscape where sales need to be measurable and scalable? Start by implementing these 3 tactics and you'll have a setup that enables you to take full advantage of your catalog investment in the digital age.

1. Place the catalog front and centre of your homepage to keep visitors engaged

It's no surprise that retailers spend a lot of attention on optimizing the product pages on their website. Once a shopper has interacted with the product page it's a clear indication that they find a product relevant and may consider buying. They can then enter your remarketing tactics.

But what about the traffic that lands on your homepage?

Most online stores offer a navigation bar with categories, a search field and banners with a range of messages. This can be fairly overwhelming for a visitor who is just browsing and wants to get an idea of what you offer.

Instead, lead them in with a catalog full of your latest offers right from the homepage. Here you leave the journey up to your shoppers to decide where they want to go next while they flick through your catalog. 

KPIs from this tactic:

  • Reduced bounce rate on traffic landing on your homepage
  • Increase in average session duration on your store
  • Increase in product page views

Danish electronics retailer Power promotes its catalog in the header of its homepage. It stands out and instantly appeals to those shoppers who just want to browse. 

Online catalogs in retail 3 tactics you can implement today - CP

2. Create a habit of weekly promotions with your subscribers

The email newsletter is often referred to as the most important channel in ecommerce. It's a format that allows businesses to sell to their target audience without spending money acquiring them. And that's a formula every retailer is chasing.

When you use your online catalogs in your newsletter tactics, you'll be able to optimize performance all the way from open rate to sales attributed to your newsletter.

To get started make sure you include your latest online catalog in the welcome email a subscriber gets when signing up. This will ensure more eyes on your catalog as the welcome email typically has the highest open rate. It'll also set an expectation for the next newsletters to come.

KPIs from this tactic:

  • Higher open-rates by introducing a format your readers can easily digest
  • Increase in post-click engagement and more product page views
  • Increase in sales directly attributed to your newsletter

JYSK UK highlights its range of catalogs in its welcome email. Subscribers can then instantly explore the wide range of products JYSK offers at their own speed. It's a logical next step in the shopper journey and an effective tactic to keep shoppers engaged.


3. Push your catalog in top-funnel paid campaigns and play into expectations

The goal of top funnel paid activities is to increase top-of-mind awareness and push visitors towards engaging with your products. But it's often difficult to find a fitting format to start this first engagement. 

Online catalogs are especially impactful here since they offer a format that's easy to understand. They're simply an overview of your latest offers. They can be both highly inspiring or promotion driven. But the point is that by flicking through the catalog, the reader knows they will have an immediate idea of what you currently have on offer.

When you use your online catalog in your campaigns, your audience will immediately recognize the format. They know instantly the goal of an online catalog so are more inclined to engage and interact with your brand.

From there you can take your audience directly to the catalog where they can explore your products, instantly buy and/or discover more on your website. But it's that recognizable catalog format that is their first step into your store.

KPIs from this tactic:

  • Increase in ad engagement from your push activities
  • Increase in engaged visitors on your store
  • Decrease in cost per sale low funnel

Home store Søstrene Grene regularly uses catalogs in its social media. The recognizeable catalog format attracts both new and regular customers and alerts them that new deals and discounts are available.


Working with online catalogs in ecommerce will enable you to provide a much better shopping experience for your customers. They're a recognized format that, when used correctly, will provide tangible results for your businesses and add more power to your marketing mix.

When used on your homepage, newsletter, paid campaigns or even all three, you'll help push today's browsing shoppers further along the buying journey. You'll provide a logical starting place that will increase conversions, sales and traffic. And who can say no to that!

Want more digital catalog tactics? 

Watch the video below and learn best practices for distribution and demand tactics for your digital catalogs using iPaper. 


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Jesper Wilhelmsen

Jesper Wilhelmsen