Barneys New York sends out a multimedia online catalog with videos

Catalog enables consumers to link to products on Barneys.com.

Allison Enright

Upscale retailer Barneys New York Inc. in late August sent a less-than-ordinary promotional e-mail about the latest denim fashions to the 450,000 consumers in its database. The e-mail linked shoppers to a digitally enhanced catalog at Barneysmag.com that featured 3-D images, streamed pop music and videos, and which connected consumers directly to the featured styles for sale on Barneys.com with one click.

“The whole idea is you see the style on the page and it takes you straight to that page on Barneys.com. We wanted to make it as seamless as possible,” says Neal Gray, president of CTN Digital, the marketing and design firm that created the 3-D catalog. Other CTN Digital clients include cosmetics maker Estee Lauder, clothing designer John Varvatos and cable channel AMC.

Gray says that some visitors are spending 15 to 20 minutes with the Barneys catalog as they interact with the videos and other Flash-supported rich media, such as the information boxes that appear when a consumer hovers her mouse over a particular page element. Each catalog page features links to Barneys.com that consumers can share via Facebook and Twitter.   

Consumers need 3-D glasses to get the full effect, however. If a consumer doesn’t have a pair, she can fill out a form to have a pair mailed to her. Gray says the mix of online and offline elements also helps Barneys confirm that the e-mail addresses of its most engaged consumers are active.

Barneys e-commerce executives insisted that the digital catalog be viewable with devices that don’t support Flash technology, such as Apple’s iPad, when the two firms began developing the catalog three months ago. The CTN Digital team manually recoded all the media elements Barneys provided, such as the art house-style videos of models wearing the featured denims, to work in HTML5, which the iPad can process. “Our plan for CTN Digital is to meld together the best of web, video, audio and print into one dynamic platform. Our clients are all looking for a new, dynamic experience where people can view and purchase in whichever environment they are in so it covers all type of software and hardware,” Gray says.

“CTN Digital has transformed our 3-D mailer into an innovative online shopping and entertainment experience. Their leading-edge technology is consistent with the expectations of our customers,” says Larry Promisel, vice president of e-commerce at Barneys New York. Gray says Barneys is planning to run another multimedia catalog for the holidays.

Barneys New York is No. 243 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide and had an estimated $45 million in web sales in 2009.


3-D images, Barneys New York, Barneys.com, CTN Digital, Flash, HTML5, Larry Promisel, Neal Gray, rich media, streaming video, videos