Compaq Computer Corp. today launched an e-catalog to consolidate what had been multiple promotional e-mails to its small-to-medium business customers into a single monthly outreach. The e-catalog, produced in-house by Compaq with the help of outside vendors in areas such as content creation, will initially go to several hundred thousand existing and prospective customers. Compaq also will promote the e-catalog through print ad placements, partner programs and other initiatives to build the catalog database.
The e-catalog is designed as one-stop shopping to help reduce costs, according to Compaq. It will allow the company to better track purchases and click-though rates on offers and determine which products and services are getting the best reception from customers. Customers will be able to choose from thousands of products via tabs that group products, but all will be able to see immediately any special offers and promotions.
Compaq sees more revenues through online initiatives than through print, says Dan Busse, director of marketing in Compaq’s North American small and medium-sized business operations. “Our catalog volume is not that great; and the e-catalog lets us reach more customers,” he says. “I’d love to see us get rid of print and go completely electronic, but our customer base isn’t quite there yet.”
So don’t look for paper mailings to disappear at Compaq in the near future. Busse says the e-catalog and the quarterly Solutions Guide, a streamlined version of the 50- to 60-page catalog Compaq dropped within the past year, are going to two different customer segments because the company has a sizeable customer group that still prefers to shop from hard-copy catalogs. Those customers range from enterprise–sized clients to very small business operations, he adds. “We see the e-catalog customers as more prone to want to stay up to date more quickly and tend to make faster decisions as opposed to the people who get the Solutions Guide,” says Busse.
Compaq says the e-catalog is a complement to other marketing vehicles including online, telesales and partner-led sales, and that the pared-down Solutions Guide will remain available. “The Guide lends itself more to letting customers know what offerings might possibly coming from us. The e-catalog is what`s happening right now, what’s the hottest subject in the marketplace, what have other customers have done -- it’s more like live,” says Busse.