Why retailers must use digital catalogs in 2024: The benefits and opportunities for your business

Print catalogs are still essential, but the retail world has fully transitioned to the digital age. Brands cannot afford to ignore the benefits of well-planned, integrated digital catalogs.

Being a marketing and advertising director is not easy these days, especially in the wild world of retail. To be honest, it was never all that easy. As technology has exploded, managing the complexity of media channels and planning and executing a retail campaign has never been more complicated.

Take the once-straightforward process of creating a catalog or flyer. When print was the sole channel, marketing directors and product managers could specify the campaign’s featured products and special offers and know how their plans would be carried out. Digital changed all that forever. Shoppers now insist on receiving retail information their way – on whatever platform or device they choose.

Successful retail campaigns in 2024: How PIM, DAM and LAGO optimize the workflow

Some things haven’t changed, however. Every good retail campaign has a team of marketers and product managers working in tandem with creative and production managers – and an ample crew of hands-on designers. Their mission is to create a user-friendly browsing and buying experience – whether in printed form or on a digital device.

There are many moving parts, most hidden from the catalog user. Behind every featured SKU or special offer, multiple details and decisions are required. They include all the product’s information – from the complex data stored in the retailer’s PIM system to images and descriptions stored in a DAM system. It doesn’t end there, of course. Campaigns and special offers must also rely on data from many other sources, including pricing, inventory, sales history, and customer feedback – often housed in separate databases. Marketing and advertising directors face challenges as they tailor their company’s offerings and specials to bottom-line realities.

Fortunately, systems such as the LAGO catalog production workflow have highly streamlined much of the “data wrangling” needed for such complex campaigns. LAGO enables retailers to connect all the PIM, DAM, and other data sources to an Adobe InDesign-based design and production environment, even when multiple regional versions of each catalog are required. The system also provides planners and decision-makers with collaborative workflow tools for making data-informed decisions about featured products and offers for each catalog or flyer project.

The future of catalog production: seamless integration of print and digital catalogs for a consistent brand experience

 There is no doubt that print will continue to be a valuable retail marketing asset for the foreseeable future. Print catalogs, in particular, combine a retailer’s brand and messaging with a satisfying, tactile experience. Thanks to LAGO’s versioning and customization capabilities, printed catalogs can be narrowly tailored to specific regional, demographic, or even behavioral niches. However, the fact remains that the world has fully transitioned to the digital age. Retail brands must adopt digital, mobile technologies, including digital catalogs.

The dilemma, of course, is that a digital catalog is radically different in format and usage – while at the same time, it must remain consistent with its printed counterparts. If “Product XYZ” is featured in a regional print catalog with a specific price or special offer, the same product details must also be reflected in the mobile and digital versions used in that region. Most retailers cannot afford two completely separate design and production workflows for print and digital. Fortunately, LAGO allows large retail marketing departments to take all the campaign planning and production decisions of a printed catalog and repurpose them for its digital counterpart, as was the case at home improvement giant Lowe’s.

Digital catalogs in retail: the future of multichannel marketing

Today, digital catalogs are essential to a retailer’s multichannel marketing strategy. They allow a retailer’s brand and message to be available anywhere and give customers instant access. But they have an even greater potential for the future of retail:

  • On both smartphones and conventional websites, digital catalogs facilitate immediate purchases, whether the user is in a physical store or at home.
  • Digital catalogs can help the in-store user find a product's location and availability, as was done at Lowe's.
  • Digital catalogs can more easily allow marketing and advertising directors to evaluate a campaign's success – or even the success of an individual product offering.
  • Personalized digital catalogs, tailored to individual purchase history and feedback, are critical to the retailer’s mission of meeting modern buyers’ self-service expectations.
  • Digital catalogs are a major potential source of data for future marketing campaigns. When used ethically and responsibly, data from digital catalog transactions can be used to optimize future campaign effectiveness, using artificial intelligence. This bodes well for both the retailer’s short-term and long-term financial prospects.
modern shopping behaviour - why catalog production matters

Both print and digital catalogs offer branding and messaging benefits for a retailer, especially if they employ a unified PIM, DAM, and related data strategy. While print has its intrinsic value, digital catalogs provide a level of flexibility and utility that is essential today.

The starting point for an effective multichannel catalog strategy is first to get your data house in order, so to speak. Once your PIM, DAM, and other data platforms are unified and connected, a cost-effective catalog workflow will follow.

Find out more about Comosoft LAGO’s digital catalog production system and its potential to unify your data strategy and revolutionize your marketing production workflow. Or you can book a demo to see for yourself.