Reviving the old catalog concept
Last week we learned that JCPenney will be closing around 40 of their stores. This week, the company is making business headlines again for reviving their print catalog, an idea that was ditched five years ago. The catalog was let go and attention was focused strictly on an online catalog. It will now be making a comeback because of data showing that many online sales were driven by inspiration from print ads.
The new catalog book will consist of 120 pages and will be sent out in March to select customers. It will also be featuring items from their home collection. The Wall Street Journal reported that catalog mailings hit a peak in 2007 with 19.6 billion, fell, and then resurged again in 2013 with 11.9 billion.
The decision to bring back the catalog was made by CEO Mike Ullman with the intent to help revitalize the brand after issues came about from former CEO Ron Johnson.
Catalogs are now more like “lifestyle magazines”
Prior to Johnson’s reign, Ullman was CEO for the first time and was, ironically, the one to make the call to eliminate the catalog. However he decided to bring it back after losing customers because of a lack of exposure to print. The initial catalog was released in 1963 and JCPenney released three “Big Books” annually, some coming in at over 1,000 pages. After Sears stopped releasing their main catalog in 1993, JCPenney was the go-to catalog.
With the combination of online shopping and the recession, catalog became the first place for retailers to cut costs. JCPenney released their last “Big Book” in 2009 and then phased out the remainder of their catalogs. However the catalogs have been found to be beneficial, and Kurt Salmon reports that 31 percent of online shoppers have a catalog with them.
J. Crew, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s have been following suit and are now sending out catalogs. Catalogs have transitioned with the times and are now more of “lifestyle magazines” where customers can be inspired by the brand and the models.
The ultimate goal? Home goods sales
This move could pose as a step in the right direction for the company. While fourth-quarter results have yet to be released, JCPenney reported earlier this month that their holiday sales were greater than expected. Their overall goal is to send catalogs to their previous home shoppers in hopes that their sales in the home goods department, which has been known to be their strongest department, will again surge.