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mail works Driving online sales through catalogues

are catalogues relevant in the 21st century? With the Internet now firmly cemented as a significantly important channel for almost all retailers, what is the role of Direct Mail and Catalogues? As industry luminaries promote the low cost and high conversion of online advertising channels, do catalogues still have a part to play? Yes - that is the conclusive answer generated from new definitive research of UK Internet users. Across the retail industry segments studied, catalogue recipients made up 40% of site visitors but 54% of online sales. Your customers rely on catalogues now more than ever to shop at your website. In fact, catalogues have never been more important to a retailer’s business growth. Catalogue recipients:

• Are far more likely to make an online purchase

- 19 percentage point lift in conversion over 12 months

• Purchase far more often - 76% increase in purchases over 12 months

• Spend far more - £110 increase

in online spending over 12 months

We connected with online shoppers in the UK for direct insight comScore surveyed online shoppers at 30 representative retail websites across four distinct categories: Multi-Channel Retailers, Online Retailers, Large Mail Order Companies and Grocers. The study collected over 1800 responses providing key insights into how catalogues and direct mail affected shoppers’ online behaviour.

What is the net effect of mailed catalogues on Internet Sales? Research commissioned by Royal Mail and conducted by comScore provides answers to your questions: “What is the difference in purchase frequency between catalogue recipients and non recipients?” “How much more do catalogue recipients spend online?” “How important is the frequency of my catalogue delivery?” “Can catalogues substantially contribute to my online retail sales?”

catalogues drive online behaviour: both purchasing frequency and spending The results of the study show clearly how catalogue recipients’ online behaviour is distinctly different from that of non-recipients. As shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2, catalogue recipients made 76% more purchases and spent £110 more over the course of a year than those who did not receive catalogues.

+£110 +76%


10.6 £152


Did not receive catalogue

Received catalogue

Figure 1: Annual purchases at website

Did not receive catalogue

Received catalogue

Figure 2: Annual spending at website

Higher purchase frequency and increased spending per purchase lead to a powerful conclusion: your online customers are motivated by Direct Mail catalogues. Customers are motivated by catalogues Catalogues motivate consumers to action, playing an important role in driving customers to your website and maintaining loyalty through your low-cost online channel. Over 70% stated they were likely to go the website after reading the catalogue. In addition the research showed a 12 percentage point increase in the proportion of consumers visiting the website more than once a month.

With so much online competition, sending catalogues drives customers to visit your website more often, spend more time there, view more pages and get to know you better.

catalogues work across the board Online shoppers are a diverse group with a better spread than ever across the socio-economic profiles. The good news is that catalogues are effective across all demographic groups. In fact, as Figure 3 shows, men have an even stronger response to catalogues than women in the online environment.



Non recipients average 12 month online spend: £160

Catalogue recipients average 12 month online spend: £259

Non recipients average 12 month online spend: £142

+£99 (+62%)

Catalogue recipients average 12 month online spend: £269

+£127 (+89%)

Figure 3

In terms of Age and Income, there is significant response across the board, including in the younger age groups and higher income brackets as shown in Figures 4 and 5.

Received catalogue






Figure 4: Annual spending at website by age






















Have not received catalogue


Figure 5: Annual spending at website by income

Surprised? Don’t be – consumers will use whatever channel is most convenient for them. Browsing your catalogue in the comfort of the living room and then purchasing through your website is an exceedingly compelling proposition.

recent catalogue mailings drive more sales The research also concluded that catalogues received in the last three months drive more sales than those received further in the past, capturing a greater share of spending and enhancing customer loyalty.




£343 £310



Have not received catalogue

Received catalogue in last 12 months

Received catalogue in last 6 months

Received catalogue in last 3 months

Figure 6: Annual spending at website

Thus frequency of contact is another way to improve loyalty and increase online sales.

not just catalogues - promotional flyers too In addition to understanding the response to catalogues, the research study uncovered findings regarding other forms of direct mail, such as promotional flyers. Those who received both catalogues and flyers spent over 30% more than those who received catalogues alone. +£101

+£70 £289



Have not received catalogue or flyer

Received catalogue but not flyer

Received both catalogue and flyer

Figure 7: Annual spending at website

So flyers offer an additional, cost effective opportunity to increase sales and enhance customer loyalty. Direct Mail and the Internet: a partnership for the 21st Century Catalogues... So 20th Century? Not quite. Direct Mail and Catalogues are more relevant and important than ever before. Utilising this direct channel to get closer to your best online customers, regardless of demographic group, drives them to your website more often, motivating them to spend more time and more money.

Stay connected with your customers even when their computers are switched off. Use the power of Direct Mail to grow your online business. For more information, contact your Royal Mail Account Manager or visit

Royal Mail, the Cruciform and the colour red are registered trade marks of Royal Mail Group plc. ‘mail works: Driving online sales through catalogues’ © Royal Mail Group plc 2006. All rights reserved.