Few online orders originate from casual web surfers, revealed last week’s annual meeting of The Catalogue Exchange, the trade consortium representing catalogue retailers and online retailing businesses.
For true multi-channel retailers, between two-thirds and three-quarters of all web orders are triggered by receipt of a catalogue in the mail.
Nigel Swabey, chairman of catalogue business Scotts and deputy chairman of The Catalogue Exchange, commented: “Unlike conventional retailers, our members can track the origin of their web orders by running a simple match-back exercise on their online transactions against their customer files, to establish how many web customers are responding online as a result of receiving a catalogue in the mail. The answer is an astonishing 70%, with some members able to identify a staggering 80% of all their web customers as being existing customers who have already received a catalogue mailing.”
Although web orders might account for 30% of a company’s sales in total, the number of customers the company has actually acquired online is probably less than 10%, concludes The Catalogue Exchange. The rest are using the web as a convenient method of placing an order. Further web orders are stimulated by an off-the-page advertisement showing a web address.
The Catalogue Exchange says that much of the vast expenditure being poured into search advertising may therefore be wasted. It claims that companies which have abandoned their catalogues or reduced mailing volumes have seen online sales plummet.