February 10, 2004, 12:00 AM

Jos. A Bank’s online catalog generates order sizes 50% higher than average

The men’s apparel retailer leveraged its paper catalog by putting it online last fall. Bank hasn’t heavily promoted the online catalog and fewer than 10% of visitors have used it, yet it’s already achieved ROI.

While its catalog serves as a sales channel in its own right as well as drives customers to its other channels, men’s apparel retailer Jos. A Bank Clothiers Inc. thought its catalog could do more--so it put the catalog online. A Flash version of its fall 2003 catalog--Bank’s first real foray into the use of rich media on its site--has already delivered a positive ROI, producing order sizes on average up to 50% higher than those coming from traditional search and navigation on the site, Pete Zophy, divisional vice-president of e-commerce, tells Internet Retailer.

The online catalog, powered by technology provider RichFX, is a virtual replica of its paper catalog that allows viewers to flip through its pages. Added functionality allows online shoppers to select a close-up view providing greater product detail, by page; thumbnails that show multiple page views on one screen; or a page view whose size falls in between the two.

Zophy says the positive ROI was achieved with, so far, fewer than 10% of site visitors having engaged the online catalog. “That’s an upside, considering that we haven’t even really promoted it heavily yet,” he says. “Our customers are a little more conservative, but they are accepting this Flash version of our online catalog.”

While Zophy has yet to compile data on the length of time visitors who use the online catalog stay on the site versus those who don’t, he speculates that the catalog shoppers stay longer and that it’s a factor in higher average sales among this group. “My thought is these customers are probably spending more time shopping and flipping pages. They are just spending more time browsing, and it might be easier for them to find merchandise through the online catalog so they are adding more to their carts,” he says.

RichFX hosts the online catalog, so bandwidth for serving up the catalog hasn’t been an issue at Bank. At the user end, the online catalog is slower to load but still can be viewed by shoppers using low-speed versus high-speed connections.

“It was a low-risk way to introduce rich media to our site. We wanted to start slow, prove that it would work, and add more from there,” says Zophy, who adds that Bank’s spring catalog is currently online. “As long as connection speeds aren’t inconvenient for consumers and as long as it enhances the consumer experience, we are going to see more and more of it.”

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