How to go from print to online without losing in-store traffic

January 17, 2021
Rebecca Wine profile picture
Matt Whitby
  • Print catalogs are a successful marketing format. But they're expensive to produce
  • However, a change in tactic is always a risk and many brands are afraid that moving to online catalogs will harm in-store traffic
  • But that's not the case. There are many tactics to ensure your online catalogs will continue to sustain, maybe even increase, traffic to your store

The printed catalog is one of retail's most popular and successful formats. They're used to drive more visitors to your store, and 61% of shoppers say they use printed catalogs and leaflets to determine what stores to visit. But printing and distributing the catalog is expensive and retailers are looking for ways to cut costs without losing in-store traffic. So, many have branched into the world of online catalogs.

A convenient addition to your marketing materials, online catalogs are easier to manage and can offer unique shopper insights. But for many brands they bring about the same conundrum.

How can I maintain foot traffic to my physical store from my online catalog?

How can I convince my catalog readers to visit my store?

Lets take a look...

Offer click and collect

To convert your catalog readers into foot traffic, it all comes down to your checkout experience. While we're all focused on offering that intuitive and seamless online shopping experience, it often leaves your brick and mortar store hanging out to dry.

But, a click and collect checkout experience builds a connection between your online and physical store. By encouraging shoppers to browse your products online but pick up order in-store, you have two opportunities to sell, build a relationship and encourage action.

For the optimal click and collect experience, offer your customers a range of their nearest stores to choose from. Danish supermarket brand Fleggaard uses its online catalogs to do exactly that.

Known for its incredible deals as a cross-border retailer, Fleggaard relies on its online catalog to draw customers in, then offers a simple and easy order collection in store.

Shoppers can add products to their basket as they shop then select their desired collection store. With click and collect, your online catalog still remains a key traffic and sales channel. It offers all the practicality of online shopping, but removes that pesky shipping fee.

And, your shoppers won't be waiting in ALL DAY for the postman to arrive. They can visit the store at their earliest convenience, be tempted to have a nosey round all the products and offers available and pick up their much desired online order. It's all about connecting your online and offline channels to offer a complete and recognizable brand experience.

You can read the full Fleggaard case here, and how 10% of all orders contain products added to basketfrom their digital catalog!

But for some companies, click and collect might not be in-line with your goals, so there are other tactics to consider too.

Turn your catalog into a research tool

88% of shoppers ROPO. I ROPO and I bet you do too. ROPO stands for research online, purchase offline. It turns out we're all big fans of research. We like to find out about what we're buying before we buy it.

For those purchases that are more of an investment and might require a bit of decision making, we immediately turn to the internet for reviews, information, images and more.  What colors does it come in? Where was it made? Does it come with batteries?

So, when it comes to your online catalogs, why not turn it into a more research-focused tool. With videos, images, and information popups you can really showcase all that you have to offer. That way, your shoppers will know all the features and uses before they even step into the store.

BoConcept, a leading furniture brand uses its catalogs to show its luxurious product ranges. They use videos and iframes to encourage customers to learn about their products and then visit their store to find talk to a designer.

By using your catalogs in this way visiting your store becomes the last piece of the puzzle. The final step is to simply see if the product lives up to expectations in real life. And once again, you have the opportunity to up-sell and inspire those shoppers to buy even more in store.

So, use your online catalogs to educate your customers. It creates another link between online and offline and adds to the overall brand experience. But, it doesn't have to just be product knowledge that you share. Why not promote your stores too?

Promote your store in your online catalog

There are many ways you can promote your stores in your catalogs. If you have an exclusive in-store only product line, discount, event or some kind of special offer, that's your hook.

But maybe you don't. And that's okay too. You need to take every opportunity to just remind your shoppers that hey, we've got stores too! Online shoppers don't know what they're missing out on. They don't know what's going on in your store. So take them there by telling them exactly where to go.

Designate sections or whole pages of your catalogs to advertising your stores. You have full control of your online catalog, so make it highlight everything you offer. Fressnapf, the largest pet food company in Europe, reminds online shoppers of its many stores through a popup.

Similar to Fressnapf, building supplies chain XL-BYG offers catalog shoppers the option to checkout online or via their nearest store. There's also a section in the catalog dedicated to finding out store opening times.

So use your catalogs to remind shoppers of your store. Like XL-BYG, give your customers options. Encourage them to find out more by keeping your stores a strong focus throughout your online channels.

Speaking of channels, its a consistent omni-channel approach that creates a successful online to offline experience.

Create a consistent omni-channel message

Maintaining foot traffic from your online catalog boils down to creating the right omni-channel approach. And a huge part of that is your brand experience. Your message needs to be strong, identifiable and relevant across all your channels.

To spread that message along with your catalogs, there's one clear place you need to be. Social media.

Yep, we all know how important it is. Social media helps grow your audience, build loyal followers and encourages sales. But it's also a place to push your catalogs and advertise your in-store experience. However to successfully do this, you need to make sure your brand is consistent.

If your online and offline experience are mismatched and completely different, you'll confuse shoppers and potentially lose their interest. Italian home store La Casa Moderna links its Instagram followers directly to its catalogs. And the style of both channels remains the same so it's easily recognizable to loyal fans.

Use your channels and online touch points to share your brand's core values. Build excitement. Create an irresistible feeling that draws your shoppers in. Just make sure that feeling is matched across your entire brand offering. It'll add to an unforgettable customer experience.


For retailers, losing foot traffic is a big concern when it comes to producing to online catalogs. But there are many tactics to use that can direct your online shoppers to your store.

A successful online to store approach relies on a consistent omni-channel brand experience. And when it comes to your catalogs, don't forget that you're in control.

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