Catalog Companies Spending on Sites

Catalog companies continue to spend money on their Web sites according to the third annual survey by Catalog Age, even though the Web accounts for a small amount of their sales.

Almost 25 percent of the respondents with an online catalog saw a 100 percent increase in the percentage of sales generated over the Internet from last year. Half of the respondents said their sites account for less than 1 percent of total sales. Only 11 percent said their online catalogs account for more than 10 percent of their sales (4 percent of business-to-business catalogs, 12 percent of consumer catalogs, and 16 percent of hybrids).

Despite the small amount of sales, 30 percent of the participants told Catalog Age they spend more than $50,000 annually to maintain their Web presence, and two-thirds spent more on marketing their sites this year than last.

Almost half (46 percent) of the participants in the survey say their primary goal for being online is to better serve customers. The same percentage cite money making as the primary goal of their Web catalog.

More than half (55 percent) of respondents do not require users to register, down 15 percent from last year. Only 16 percent require registration to shop, it is optional for the rest. Almost all (97 percent) collect email addresses from shoppers, 18 percent ask for product preferences, and 17 percent ask for demographic information. Twenty percent of those that collect data told Catalog Age they do not use it. Thirty-eight percent use email addresses for updates and special offers, 11 percent offer customization with the information, and 3 percent sell the data or trade it to marketers.

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