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The Complete Guide to Digital Catalogs: What it is, how to make them, and how and why use them

What is a digital catalog? How do you make them? Why should you use them? Get the answers to all these questions – and many more – in this complete guide.

What is a digital catalog?
Examples and how to create digital catalogs
Benefits, drawbacks and tactics
A man holding an iPad with a digital catalog open, next to the text "All you need to know" and two icons for digital catalogs.

In today's digital age, businesses are always looking for new ways to connect with their customers.  

One tool that has gained increasing popularity is the digital catalog. In fact, 55% of European shoppers use digital catalogs at least a few times a month!

So, whether you're a seasoned catalog marketer or just getting started, it’s important to understand what a digital catalog is and how it can benefit your business.

In this blog post, we'll explore exactly that.

What is a Digital Catalog?

- Flipbook?

- Online leaflet?

- Digital catalog?

- Online magazine?

- Ecommerce catalog?

In general, these terms all describe the same thing. So, for practical purposes we’ll stick to “digital catalog” throughout this blog.

A digital catalog is a dynamic, interactive, web-based version of a traditional print catalog.

Instead of flipping through the pages of a physical catalog, shoppers can browse digital catalogs through a website or mobile app.

Digital catalogs have a horizontal page-turning, sliding or cross-fading effect, contrary to many digital channels’ vertical scroll, such as social media and webshops.

On top, digital catalogs offer a wide range of features and functionalities - such as video, shop links and direct checkout - that are not possible with traditional print catalogs.

Digital Catalog Examples

Here are example videos of two - very different - digital catalogs in action:


Madam Stoltz

If you're looking for even more examples, then there's 3 extra examples via this link.

How to Create a Digital Catalog

Creating a digital catalog for your business is easier than you might think - assuming you already have a PDF of the catalog. In that case, here are the basic steps:

1. Find the right digital catalog creator software for your business

2. Upload the PDF to the software’s platform

3. Optional: Add interactive elements

4. Press “publish”

And that’s it.

Now, let’s dive into the benefits and drawbacks of using digital catalogs.

Benefits of Digital Catalogs

There can many benefits specific to certain businesses or use-cases, but here are the common benefits:  

Reach a Wider Audience

Digital catalogs are not limited by geography. Your catalog can be accessible to anyone with an internet connection, allowing you to reach a global audience. This expanded reach can help you tap into new markets and increase your customer base.

With digital catalogs, shoppers can browse the catalog anywhere, anytime."

David Gurita, E-commerce Digital & UX Design Lead, El Corte Inglés Portugal

Enhanced Customer Experience

Digital catalogs can offer an engaging product journey. With features like interactive images, videos, and links, customers can get a better understanding of the products. This enhances user engagement, and provides a more interesting shopping experience.

On top, various checkout options – from shop links to wishlist to direct checkout – can be used to actively generate conversions and revenue from the digital catalog.

We have basically transformed our traditional leaflet into an interactive and a shoppable experience."

Ibrahim Shouehne, Digital Production Lead, Omnichannel, Carrefour MAF

Cost-Effective and Eco-Friendly

Printing and distributing physical catalogs can be costly, not to mention the environmental impact of paper waste. Digital catalogs alleviate some of these concerns by reducing printing costs and minimizing carbon footprint.

For 1% of the cost of printing a catalog, we can create as many digital catalogs as we like."

José Antonio Del Pino, Senior Marketing Project Leader, Cristian Lay

A Curated Online Format that Stands Out

Many webshops are dominated by white-background grid views of endless products. On the other hand, a digital catalog provides a curated selection of products that can make online shopping easier, faster and less overwhelming.

Better Data and Analytics

Digital catalogs can provide valuable insights into customer behavior. You can track which products are getting the most attention, how long customers spend on each page, and more. This data helps refine your marketing and product strategies for better results.

Drawbacks of Digital Catalogs

The drawbacks can also vary, depending on the specific company and industry, but here are the common drawbacks:

A Non-Interactive Digital Catalog

The page-turning effect of the digital catalog can provide a better browsing experience than the vertical scroll of a PDF.

But without any interactive enrichments in the digital catalog, one risks limited engagement from shoppers and no direct conversions.

Creating Enrichments can be Time-Consuming
(but it doesn’t have to be)

The interactive enrichments can also come with a downside. If the enrichments are created manually, it can be a cumbersome process, which costs time and thereby resources from your team.

However, some digital catalog software companies can automate this process.

Having an Extra Channel to Manage and Maintain

For every channel that you add to your marketing mix, there’s some extra time spent on managing it, analyzing results and optimizing.

Digital Catalog Marketing Tactics

One way of making whatever time spent managing the digital catalog worth it, is to employ effective tactics to make it a success.

Here’s a list of proven tactics to set you up for success:

Getting Started

A 5-step framework for how to successfully run your first digital catalog campaign

3 straightforward ways to use digital catalogs in top funnel marketing

Engaging and Converting

3 tips to make your digital catalog as engaging as possible

How to increase engagement by adding an extra layer to your digital catalog

7 simple elements to designing a digital catalog that converts


How to optimize your digital catalog for SEO

Why and how you should highlight the last page more in digital catalogs


A digital catalog is a powerful tool that can provide something familiar, yet different, in the online shopping journey.

It enhances the customer experience, allows for easy updates, widens your reach, provides valuable analytics, and is cost-effective.

Like all digital channels, there are some downsides to digital catalogs, such as time spent managing the channel.

Generally, though, the positives far outweigh the negatives, and there’s a ton of effective tactics that can set your digital catalog up for success.

So, why wait?

Start to create.

Tactics that makes your strategy even more effective