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Ecommerce Forum

What is it with the catalog requests?
Do people not understand online only?

 11:17 am on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have an ecommerce site that keep around more as a hobby. It makes money but not alot. I like the subject matter though so, its enjoyable yo keep up. I am writing this to understate that I have no intention of ever creating a catalog for this site.

No where on this site does it say I have a catalog, produce a catalog, mail a catalog or that you can request a catalog. And yet, daily now, I am getting catalog requests. They leave them on my message board. They email them. And several even snail mail. Not "Do you have a catalog?" but "Send me your catalog."

Why do so many people just assume I have a catalog? I know that 90% of the websites I shop on do not have catalogs. Do these same people request catalogs from say, Amazon?



 11:21 am on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Maybe there is something about your site which makes it look like you have a catalog? Or that you have a mail order branch?

I just got one asking for a hardcopy of the archive of my newsletters. I've never even printed a newsletter for my own use.


 12:16 pm on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I get the same requests.
I created several PDF files of the different categories of a site and told the catalog requesters to download them or print them out.

They still emailed or called for a printed catalog.

I put up a FAQ section above the contact email address stating "Because of the ever changing number of products it is not possible for us to provide a printed catalog".

That dropped the number of requests by half but we still get them.


 12:29 pm on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I also get regular requests for a catalog, even though my site says I don't have one. I have a price list I can send as an email attachment, but most people are disappointed by it even though I say outright it is an emailed price list and not a snail-mail catalog with pics and long descriptions. Thing is, people like to window-shop. Also, I think often people find a site at work and know they can't sit and browse it there, and they don't know how to send themselves a bookmark, so they ask for a catalog.

Corey Bryant

 12:39 pm on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

For some people, it is a way to show that your business is legitimate. Some people still like to order from a catalog. And there are some businesses that charge for their printed catalog

You might consider placing something on your Contact Us page.



 1:45 pm on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

How about just risking it and printing a few hundred, sure itll be expensive but I wonder what teh reorder/conversion rate would be?


 2:10 pm on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

We get a lot of this as well. I usually just send a canned reply explaining that we don't have a printed catalogue at present etc etc. My paranoid side can't help but wonder if they are trying to perpetuate some kind of scam that they can only do with a printed catalogue, can't think what though! hehe. I've certainly has some catalogue requests from high risk countries but not always.



 2:25 pm on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Despite the popularity of the internet, there are still quite a few people who would rather shop from a printed catalog rather than a website. Now, when it comes to ordering, most people still want to order online (because it's instantaneous and they don't have to deal with a live person), but they want to "window shop" your products in print rather than sitting in front of a computer.

It goes along with people buying digital cameras and then taking their memory card into the local drug store and printing ALL the photos on the card, even the ones that didn't turn out quite right.

A lot of people also complain about brick and mortar department stores having wedding registries, job applications, etc., only in computerized form.

There are still a lot of people out there who just do not like the computer interface when it comes to such things.

In my opinion, your sales will probably NOT increase substantially just because you put out a printed catalog. A printed catalog may provide an entertainment solution to an otherwise bored customer, but if they're really looking to buy they will more than likely come to you site so they can immediately find the item, make sure it's in stock, and buy it in one swoop.


 3:16 pm on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is it a site for a type of goods typically sold through catalogs?


 8:43 pm on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

"I wonder what teh reorder/conversion rate would be?"

I've read that the typical order rate for catalogues is 2%. This coincides with my experience when I was sending out price lists by snailmail. It turned out to be not worth it to do even a cheap one that I printed out myself. I have heard from others in businesses related to my niche that they discontinued catalogues because of the low response--and theirs were eye-candy-type catalogues in contrast to my workaday type.

But obviously some catalogues must be worth sending out. When you hit a really big volume, they must become very cheap to print and mail. Can't see how they could make any money otherwise. Either that or the markup on their products is gigantic.


 8:58 pm on Oct 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

At least you are getting these based on your having an ecom site.

I routinely get "how much is that...? Where can I buy that..." "Why don't you show the prices of..."

I wanna scream.... "Look, it's a photo gallery! I DON'T SELL ANYTHING!"

Instead I just trash the emails.

My "contact us" page basically says I don't answer emails, at least very often, and almost never fast. I do show my email address though. It's amazing how many folks think I'll make an exception for them. :)

The most relevant email I got was one asking what kind of webmaster doesn't answer emails. I didn't answer it. :)


 12:18 am on Oct 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

The most relevant email I got was one asking what kind of webmaster doesn't answer emails. I didn't answer it.

Sounds like a very relevant answer. ;)


 8:46 pm on Oct 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Our company printed a catalog for years. We stopped two years ago when the website was outselling the catalog. We get requests everyday for the catalog. Some of our older customers are still ordering from the catalogs they kept.

Personally, I wish we still had a catalog, I feel that it can carry its own weight. But, I don't write the checks here.


 9:06 pm on Oct 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think some of the requests occur when a site gets listed in a "catalog directory" website along with an 800#.

We have no catalog (they aren't all that profitable) and I've long stopped even answering such requests as our site CLEARLY says we have no print mail order catalog.

My guess is the most people are going down a long list and phoning everyone on it. Most aren't surprised when we tell them we don't have one.


 8:14 pm on Oct 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Filter all these emails based on some keywords and put them in an autoresponder.
Tell them politely that you dont offer a print catalog but would like to offer them some special deals from time to time via email, beginning with a very special deal because of the interest they have shown in your company.

I don't know if this works and if these mailings could be seen as Spam, but maybe its worth thinking about.


 10:16 pm on Oct 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thats an interesting idea, I imagine though that the people that ask for catalogs arent going to order from you anyway.

The majority are seeing if you really do exist.

OSC has an add on that allows people to self print a catalog from your site.

Has anyone here used it?


 2:43 pm on Oct 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Maybe you should all "sell" your catalog and charge some postage for good measure...


 7:41 pm on Oct 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was "selling" mine for a dollar and it was still a waste of time.


 11:01 am on Oct 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi All,

We offer catalogues for free and the ratio is about 3% for us. The trouble with catalogues is people will order them from you to upset and harass people with them, especially in the adult market place, this accounts for quite a few wasted catalogues and a lot of complaints.
We will not be doing a catalogue next year but putting more money into adding new products on a weekly basis.

Someone mentioned printing a catalogue of your website, we have over 3000 products online, how would we do this please?



 11:29 am on Oct 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am not suggesting that the sites you guys run are not well designed (after all, how would I know), but I have often been to online store sites (including well know big players) and found the information architecture to be riddled with woodworm.:(

Spending ages trying to figure out where green solid widgets are 'hidden' and how much they cost can be a nightmare. At least with a hard copy catalogue I can flip through the pages and don't have to wait for the database(s) to finish sorting and the page loading each time I go down a blind alley.
As members of this illustrious forum, I am sure you guys have the navigation well sorted, but maybe by fine tuning the navigation even more, these requests might be reduced and, consequently, online sales augmented.
This wouldn't reduce the requests with reasons as mentioned above, of course.
Just a thought......;)


 1:09 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Some people request catalogs because they are nervous about ordering online and afraid of scams. The request is sometimes used to fill in conversation when the issue is really calling to see if everythings OK with the company.


 5:02 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I try to get people to tell me why they want a catalog.

Answers I commonly get:

* I want to show my friend, relative, husband, neighbor, etc.
* I couldn't find what I was looking for on your site, I was hoping you would have more stuff in your catalog.
* I like to read the catalog by the television for a while before making up my mind.
* I want to cut out the pictures for my scrapbook
* Customer thought we were someone else. Usually happens when they type "acme widgets" into the search engine and our ads show up. Even though the site is clearly branded they still assume they are on the acme homepage and call to order the acme catalog.


 11:32 am on Oct 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

I also get requests for a catalog that doesnt exist. So made up a document that kind of looks like a catalog using some desktop publishing software and printed it to a pdf file. This is now available for download from our website and voila! a catalog is born. Of course there are some caveats, since we have 20 products, so this wasnt too hard. Also, the catalog is already out of date since we have added new product after making it. But at least people have greatly reduced their asking for it.

As for the companies that do direct mail catalogs, I belive the bulk presorted US cost is somewhere around 0.12 each for postage and printing costs for a small 16 page catalog can be as low as .25-.40 each. So if you are selling something with high enough pricing and margins, it still works.

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