October 8, 2004, 12:00 AM

Catalogs are sending more shoppers to the web, new study says

Web sites are becoming a more important end point for catalog shoppers, according to a recent study released by DoubleClick. Catalog-driven purchases occurring online are up to 33% this year from 28% in 2002, DoubleClick says.

Internet shopping sites increasingly are becoming an important end point for consumers browsing through catalogs, according to a recent study released by DoubleClick Inc.

DoubleClick’s 2004 Abacus Annual Catalog Industry Trend Report found that an increasingly large number of consumers who receive catalogs are then conducting purchases at the catalog publisher’s web site, with 33% of catalog-driven purchases occurring online. That’s up from 32% of catalog orders completed online in 2003 and 28% conducted online in 2002.

Additionally, the study found that the size of the purchases completed at an online site vs. a catalog call center is converging, indicating that consumers are becoming more comfortable with making larger purchases online and marketers have become more effective in up-selling and cross-selling online. Four years ago, catalog order sizes were 13% higher than online sales.

43% of sales attributed to a catalog mailing were conducted at the catalog call center, DoubleClick says, and 24% of the catalog-driven sales ended up taking place in a store.

DoubleClick says its findings were supported by a study by the J.C. Williams Group, "The Changing Role of the Catalog for Multi-Channel Retailers." That study found that catalogs will remain critical to the success of multi-channel retailing, but that their future is in smaller versions tailored to multi-channel shoppers, says senior partner Jim Okamura. Catalog merchants should leverage integrated data on multi-channel shopping, he adds. The J.C. Williams study, which was sponsored by DoubleClick and RichFX Inc., a provider of electronic catalogs, was based on interviews with more than 30 retailers including Williams-Sonoma, REI and J.C. Penney.

The movement toward more sales ending up online underscores how important it is for catalog marketers to measure all of the sales generated by their catalog mailings, alongside search, affiliate and e-mail campaigns, according to Doubleclick. By measuring only call center sales, marketers may be under-valuing their catalog mailings by up to 50% and making the wrong mailing decision on up to one-third of the rental lists, DoubleClick executives say.

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