May 5, 2004, 12:00 AM

Catalogers should try for their share of web sales, keynote speaker says

“We have product images and descriptions and fulfillment systems,” Patrick Connolly, EVP of Williams-Sonoma told the Annual Catalog Conference during his keynote address Tuesday. “The catalog industry should have greater share on the web than we do.”


The Internet was tailor-made for catalogers and the catalog industry should control a larger share of web sales than it does, Patrick Connolly, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Williams-Sonoma Inc., told attendees at the Annual Catalog Conference in Chicago Tuesday. “We have the product images and descriptions and the fulfillment systems,” he said during his keynote address. “The catalog industry should have a much greater share on the web than we do.”

Connolly noted that web-based sales at Williams-Sonoma grew 64% last year, following two years of 50% growth. This year, he said, web sales will exceed catalog sales for the first time. Further, he said, 50% of web sales are from customers who receive the catalog, then go online to order. “The Internet is not a threat; it’s our future,” he said.

Connolly also urged his audience to look to web leaders for best practices, citing the example of Amazon remembering what customers bought and alerting them when they are making a duplicate purchase.

“It took 100 years for catalog sales to reach 5% of total sales,” he said. “It took five years for e-commerce sales to reach 4% of all sales. We need to own the web.”


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