Thursday, 4 March 2010

Welcome back, Jigsaw catalogue

There’s been chatter on Twitter today on what the Holy Grail of multichannel retail is. Some say it means doing away with catalogues to focus on web orders, whereas others contend that catalogues drive web orders and so should be more intelligently targeted. You may remember we’ve blogged about this subject before (see Which is the tail and which is the dog).

Our Twitter friends wanted hard evidence of what would happen to a company that stopped mailing catalogues. Well, it just so happens that this week we received a catalogue from tech specialist Jigsaw. The 24-page glossy catalogue looks more like a magazine. It features case studies and articles—product related, but not particularly salesy. As you’d expect from a company selling high-end computers and photography equipment, there was plenty of advice on getting the most of your tech. In short, the “magalogue” required more than just a cursory glance from its recipient—a smart move by Jigsaw that surely extends the publication’s shelf life.

So what’s this got to do with web versus print? Well, on page three of the magalogue, Jigsaw’s letter declares “What’s going on? I haven’t had a catalogue for ages”. It goes on to explain that as the company added more and more products to its range, the catalogue became “unwieldy, difficult to post and not great for the environment”.

However, axing the catalogue had a negative effect; customers contacted Jigsaw wondering what they had done wrong to be ignored. I find it strange, though, that Jigsaw didn’t keep customers in the loop via email. Or perhaps receiving emails doesn’t rank as highly with Jigsaw customers as receiving a catalogue through the post. In any case, it's clear that a print catalogue is important to Jigsaw’s loyal customers, to the extent that they felt compelled to contact the company to share their grievances.

Oh, and my favourite part of the letter: “To the charming fellow who complained at an event that he no longer had anything to read on the loo since we cancelled the catalogue—this is our gift to you”.--MT

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