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'Flick-to-Click' Shopping

4:21 pm on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Effective integration of offline and online marketing is driving a boom in online shopping, according to a survey by Experian.

The credit-checking agency's poll of over 1,547 British consumers found that seven out of 10 have shopped from home in the past 12 months.

Of those, 80 per cent found the product they wanted in a printed catalogue and then went online to place their order. Experian calls this new trend 'flick-to-click' shopping.

Printed catalogues drive online sales [vnunet.com]

4:54 pm on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It is funny how we find this to be interesting news (I did also, but why? hehe). Ofcourse people still read/watch/notice flyers, billboards, catalog, etc.

The problem is it takes serious effort to produce a catalog, a flyer is doable for a small operation.

5:46 pm on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'd want to see the methodology (e.g. exact questions asked, and especially how they handle people who have made more than one purchase in a year) before buying too deeply into this.

The implication of the above statements is that all phone shopping plus all shopping by mail plus all online purchases of items NOT originally found in a printed catalog is only 20% of the market. What about Amazon? eBay? I don't doubt it's common, and maybe moreso in the UK than in North America, but 80% seems too high.

6:18 pm on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Experian calls this new trend...

Reminds me of that ridiculous but widely circulated study that claimed shoppers leave sites in 4 seconds if page doesn't load. Purely a PR piece to be mindlessly regurgitated by the press (and catalog printers).

We used to include a mini catalog with online orders and dropped it due to shopper disuse.

8:00 pm on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I agree with jomaxx, that number is way too high. I would put money this was an online survey which leads to very questionable data. How many say 'yes, I buy online' just to feel like they are 'hip'.
8:26 pm on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My stepson does this flick to click. He's 25 and doesn't order online to be "hip". He goes through his very large catalog of parts, writes down the part number that he needs and then goes online to order when he's ready.

There is still something for many of us about actually holding something in our hands. I found myself looking for trade magazines to subscribe to this morning simply for this reason. I can find any info I want online, but I still want something to put in the bathroom or carry around with me to have something to look at when I have a few minutes.

There is a company that I used to get a small catalog from that I would flip through often, sometimes daily. I would order online and after a couple of times, they sent me a note that since I order online, if I still wanted the catalog, I had to order it. It was still free but I had to take an extra step to keep getting it each year. I forgot the last time and now I don't order from them, simply because I don't have that nice little catalog around to remind me of their wonderful products.

I don't particuarly like "shopping" online, but I love being able to order online. I can't help but feel that businesses that have stopped issueing catalogs are doing it too soon. May be another generation before "we" want to give up our catalogs.

I don't see catalogs as obsolete but only that ordering online is a better option to finalizing the transaction verses phone or mail in.

Some of you may feel these numbers are too high, but they may be closer than what you think.

Experian may call this a new trend, but I just see it as a transition from an old way of placing an order, to a new more convienent way.

12:06 am on Aug 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There is also the website's level of usability. I've seen websites where the task of browsing through their catalog is absolutely horrendous. Some require the latest technology and plugins to see anything at all. For others, the items are grouped in non-intuitive categories and their search is next to useless, or their online catalog is simply out of date. I went to one famous online PC manufacturer and first thing, i was asked if i need a computer for home, home office, or work, no further explanation, so i called them and they said they present different items based on my answer, huh?! Just show me all the items so i can browse through them and for each item, show me all the options in a single page. After all, that's what they do in paper catalogs.
2:57 pm on Aug 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The numbers might be high, but not necessarily by much. 80% of 70% is 56%, so that's the percentage of consumers who reported shopping this way once during the past year (and if any of the responders are like me, there are some positive replies in the count because the person remembered doing it sometime in the not-too-distant past but couldn't remember if it was actually within a year).

I do a lot of shopping online, and I get a lot of catalogs. Getting a catalog sometimes reminds me that I haven't been to a particular site for awhile, and if there's something in the catalog that looks promising I'm more likely to go see what's up. I shop online from clothing chains that have local stores, because online is where the overstocks and clearance items are best found now (I wonder if that will ever have an effect on outlet malls?). When I get a catalog from one of them, I'll flip through to see what's new now - and so might be on clearance sale six months from now. (And on another point from the article, I watch for the sale announcements in my inbox.)

The greatest thing about being able to do the actual shopping online is that after I look through the catalogs, I can throw them away! I'm doing some home renovation, so it's not unusual for me to see something in a catalog that I don't want to buy now but will be ready for in six months or so. Instead of keeping the catalog sitting in a stack of papers for that long - and then not being able to find it - I bookmark the website.

All in all, I use catalogs the way I would print ads rather than as an ordering mechanism.

[edited by: Beagle at 3:00 pm (utc) on Aug. 18, 2007]

4:07 pm on Aug 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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--It is funny how we find this to be interesting news (I did also, but why? hehe). Ofcourse people still read/watch/notice flyers, billboards, catalog, etc.--

The problem is it's so hard to track offline influences. With online activity there's a nice neat end-to-end log of everything the customer does, but if they are reading a real life paper catalogue there's absolutely no way the retailer will ever find out about this (unless they do some kind of survey of course).

This gives many online retailers the wrong impression that people don't use paper catalogues at all any more.

5:07 pm on Aug 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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True, but you can to some level of tracking like giving out a different phone number so you can differentiate between web and catalog phone calls (alhtough some catalog readers might go to your site and get the # from there).

Coupon codes is another method....

But yes at the end of the day it is no where as accurate as web analytics.

8:19 pm on Aug 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My mom is in her mid 70'S, doesn't have a computer and doesn't want one. She called recently asking me to order a pair of shoes online that she had just seen in a catalog. That ad said free shipping if purchased online.

Everything arrived on time and in good order. She now sees online shopping from a catalog as a viable way to make purchases.

2:44 am on Aug 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The problem is it takes serious effort to produce a catalog

I wish i could create a catalog for our products. every customer requests one, and to get mail list sign ups on my site i included a "request catalog" line on our pages. we get more sign ups a day then sales. (though id rather get the sales:) this time of year is tough for unique gifts (what we sell) and if i could distribute a catalog before xmas, i would be in a very healthy situation


the cost is soooo high, full color is needed, has to have breadth (as a simple brochure wont cut it) and i hear its about a 1% conversion for sales (worse then my site) and if we invested and financed it, items in our catalog, being unique, have limited qty and would sell out before the thing was even read though i would include our best sellers, in which we have a supply chain, still..... availability is an issue yet everyone that orders that unique gift from us expects a catalog..... hmmmm, i dont know

i wish i could make it pheasable. who has.... everyone wants it, but who can afford it.

4:20 am on Aug 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Irregardless of the numbers, I think the underlying message here is the growing acceptance of the internet. The Net is providing more services these days than just commerce. VoIP, Banking, Weather, News, Dating, etc. The list is continuing to grow and touch more people each day.

As more and more people begin to interact online you can expect different behavior from different groups over the coming years. Some people need catalogs, others hate them. Some can't find what they are looking for locally, some won't even go look locally.

So, are we seeing the multi-billion dollar catalog industry's customers beginning to shopping online more so than they have in the last 5 years?

The only thing constant is change.....

11:34 pm on Aug 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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For impulse buys I often "flick to click". For a targetted purchase its another matter.

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