By Nancy Dahlberg
Whether consumers receive their favorites via mailbox or, increasingly, via inbox or on their iPads, they like the page-turning experience, said Richard Linevsky, who is part of the husband-wife team who co-founded Weston, Fla.-based Catalogs.com.
Linevsky should know: Since 1996, Catalogs.com has aimed to be the go-to place to order catalogs and has evolved into much more.
Today, Catalogs.com is an online-shopping destination featuring hundreds of retailers. It’s part of the growing U.S. e-commerce industry, which logged $225 billion in sales last year and is projected to draw $434 billion in 2017, according to eMarketer research.
In the 1990s, when Linevsky was selling artistic neckties, he noticed he was five times more likely to get sales from people who requested the catalog, rather than people who got the catalog through lists. That was the light bulb moment for him. He thought: Why not build a portal where consumers can order the catalogs they want, and retailers will get much more qualified leads? In 1996, he and his wife, Leslie, sold that necktie catalog business to start Catalogs.com.
Back then, the “Wild West” days of dial-up Internet, most of the 25 company catalogs offered were on paper, he said.
Now Catalogs.com features more than 700 retailers — from well-known names such as Sears, Spiegel, Ralph Lauren, Warner Brothers, Mrs. Fields, Sky Mall and Neiman Marcus to niche brands such as Fairytale Brownies, Allen Bros. Steaks and The Children’s Place. All featured retailers have e-commerce stores, and each one has a Catalogs.com profile, which often contain discounts, special offers or free shipping for the consumer. About 30 percent still offer printed catalogs that can be delivered for free, while many provide access to online catalogs. “Whether it is paper or PDF, people enjoy the page-turning experience. It’s the discovery. You never know what’s next,” Richard Linevsky said.
But that’s not to say the catalog couldn’t use an update.
Enter the company’s Dynalog, Catalogs.com’s newest product, which the company says offers a quick, easy and more affordable way for online stores to create catalogs enhanced with imagery for a discovery shopping and sensory experience with a less heavy look of product and text.
The store can delete sold out products and replace the catalog quickly. Online stores can email-blast it, put into a newsletter, or share on social media. Dynalog, or a “dynamic catalog,” might feature a particular dress, but it also gives people other choices in a similar style.
Up-selling is a key for Dynalog, and each one tells a story for the brand, Leslie Linevsky said. More than 110 companies have created a Dynalog.
Linevsky said that whereas a traditional catalog can take two months to create and cost $10,000 to $100,000, a 60-page Dynalog can be created in the $200 to $500 monthly range and take just 30 minutes to build. It can then be updated, changed or even replaced any time the store desires.
Linevsky sees uses well beyond retail — such as a law firm wanting to publicize its top lawyers, a sales tool for a plastic surgeon, or auction companies able to have a catalog for every event.