Improve Profit

Generating More Profit From Compelling Catalogues - November 09 Newsletter

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For many years we have been helping retail clients to either introduce or improve their sales-enabled catalogues. Experience has shown us that profit performance from a catalogue can vary wildly depending how well it is executed and supported. A compelling catalogue, fulfilled efficiently and supported with effective marketing and customer service will generate significant extra profits for most retailers. We have also found that the Internet does not remove the benefits of having catalogues. Catalogues, with their convenient ‘coffee-table’ browser-friendly nature, provide customers with many advantages that a website cannot.

How does a catalogue generate that extra profit? By increasing sales at acceptable cost. There is no other way!
For the multi-channel retailer a sales-enabled catalogue can increase sales through all channels. The catalogue itself can generate telephone sales directly, but also it can generate additional sales via the website and in stores, using effective cross-channel promotion. The catalogue will remain visible around the customer's house or workplace for a good while and keep bringing the retail brand back to the front of mind – this is something a website cannot do.

There are 4 key elements required to ensure a catalogue is relevant and compelling:
Cross-Channel Consistency
The catalogue must be complementary to the website and the stores. The customer must be able to move between the channels seamlessly. Multi-channel but single-brand!
Credible Product Ranging
The catalogue need not contain the retailer’s full range of products but the customer must understand easily what’s in the catalogue, what’s not and , importantly, why.
Attractive Service Proposition
The service supporting the catalogue can easily put customers off. In particular delivery, return and refund propositions are critical – make sure that the quality, time and price elements of these services are in line with customer expectations. Cheapest is not always best. Customers are smart enough to pay for exceptional service. Your competitors may be cheaper...but are they reliable?
Profit-Focussed Catalogue Design
The main aim of the catalogue is to sell lots of high profit products. There are many design elements that either enhance or detract from this goal – front cover, back cover, section/page layout, product placement, photography, product copy and promotional copy, amongst others. What might appear subtle changes can make significant performance improvements.

The means of addressing these 4 elements effectively is by following a well-defined catalogue creation process that typically covers the following stages:
1. Catalogue Strategy
To agree the high level multi-channel context, product and service offers, marketing approach, target customers, product ranging parameters, promotional mechanics, number of pages, page dimensions, paper quality, concept design and target costs [before any range and product selections or page production starts].
2. Category Strategy and Page Allocation
To agree the product category approaches, commercial objectives and section and page allocations with the Commercial, Merchandising and Marketing teams.
3. Creative Brief Sign Off
To agree the concept creative treatments [including any new concepts], page formats, catalogue copy style and section and page templates for the catalogue plus any creatives required for all marketing and web activity. It is important that requirements for catalogue covers, inserts and section breaks are agreed at this stage so that outline designs can be completed before product selections are started.
4. Creative Concepts Design
To design creatives, templates and design treatments based on the given briefs.
5. Flat-Plan and Layout Design
To create and agree the running order and double page spread layouts by category for the whole catalogue. To ensure that the catalogue and category strategies will be delivered on the pages. It is also important to agree photography requirements by section [number of shots, image styles, lifestyle shots, packaging shots, composite shots, room settings……]. Finally, this is the stage at which the design and page make up requirements should be agreed by section, including the detail of any new treatments.
6. Catalogue Product Selection
To agree product selections for the categories - including how these will fit into the agreed sectional page allocations. Also, this is the time to brief detailed photography requirements by product and to brief the catalogue production team with the detailed design and page make up requirements by product. This step has usually been preceded by a number of pre-selections to narrow down the options for the product range.
7. Photography Sample Collection
To obtain product samples for creating product images that follow the concepts and specifications provided during earlier stages of the process.
8. Copy Sign Off
To write and agree appropriate catalogue copy for every product. It is important that the copy generated contains sufficient detail to sell the product and adheres closely to the house and catalogue copy style.
9. Covers and Inserts Sign Off
These are extremely important selling pages in the catalogue. It’s imperative to obtain senior management level sign off as early as is practicable for these key catalogue elements.
10. Final Pricing Sign Off
This stage is usually preceded by an earlier, initial pricing activity. This final sign off should be a single activity [not a drip, drip activity] for the whole catalogue and, ideally, as late as is practicable in the process. It must of course be accompanied by appropriate checks to ensure accuracy on page.
11. Final Catalogue Pages Sign Off
To achieve final sign off for all catalogue page designs with agreement to proceed to print. This activity should be timed to be as late as is practicable in the process and as close as possible to the date at which the commitment to print is made.
If the catalogue is to be on time, on cost and of the required quality then the stages above need to take place within a well constructed and well managed production plan.

The old adage is definitely true for catalogue creation – ‘If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail’.
A compelling sales-enabled catalogue can make your business more profit!