A Big Ecommerce Adventure - Paddy Pallin Case Study
For the past 30 years, printed catalogues have been consistently one of the most effective sales drivers for major retailers. Today's catalogues are much more likely to contain customer-engaging, rich content rather than just traditional product and price.

Despite the production process being improved in terms of efficiency, quality, and best of all, cost, some retailers are overlooking the opportunity to include this proven marketing tool into their new more digitally-oriented marketing strategies.

Many however, are finding it very effective to create digital versions of their print catalogues. Or vice versa. In much the same way as an online store is to a bricks and mortar store, so the e-catalogue is to it's more traditional "hard copy" relative.

One retailer who was on top of the change to digital catalogues was adventure sports retailer Paddy Pallin. They were looking for an environmentally friendly digital solution to replace their iconic 80 page colour Handbook, which had previously been released twice a year at the beginning of the summer and winter seasons.

Tim Pallin, Paddy Pallin's Managing Director, says "There's so much information the company wants to communicate to customers but we had been limited by our print format catalogue."

Coinciding with their need for change, Paddy Pallin's long time print catalogue agency Cumming Agency and Studios (CAS) had been trialling various Ecatalogue production software. Not finding anything with the flexibility and functionality they wanted to provide for clients, they decided to create their own and came up with an exclusive software platform they've named CASzine.

"We developed this online multi platform system aimed at delivering content in an engaging and interactive way. We believe the content should not only relate to product and price, but should also delve into sub messages relevant to the buying proposition, that is, 'Why should I shop with this brand?'" said Stuart Cumming, joint managing director of CAS.

CASzine technology provides CAS clients with the opportunity to use engaging rich media content, such as animated images, videos, 360 degree photography and pop-ups in their catalogues. 

Viewers are able to click from the Contents page through to any page of their choice - unlike a PDF flip book which only allows sequential reading. Both agency and client were able to see what was working; what pages were being clicked;
how long customers spent viewing the catalogue; how many clicked through to the website; how many returned to the catalogue; what devices they were using. They were even able to compare how much time was spent on content vs product and this data has been used to fine-tune the balance in each subsequent edition of the catalogue.

Some topline data - since creating their digital catalogue, unique visitors to the online catalogue spent an average of 86 seconds viewing time. 50.25% clicked from the catalogue to a relevant page on the website and 50% revisited the catalogue (re-engaged).

"Tim Pallin added, "Our move to a digital catalogue was partially driven by our ranges themselves. We have a lot of things coming into the store, so if we'd continued to do only one handbook for a six-month period, our customers wouldn't know about the new stock. Throughout the season we have product changes, colour changes and price changes and our previous print Handbook obviously couldn't accommodate so many changes. But by being able to create digital versions, updating has become very simple.

Together, Paddy Pallin and CAS produced CASzines for online plus hard copy versions for instore and distribution through newspapers. This combination of online combined with tactical offline has proved a winner. They continue to get the 6-8 week spike in sales when the hard copy goes out, plus they have the flexibility and engagement they need in the online version.

As the recent US-based Hanover Research Insights concludes, "For many companies operating
in the digital marketplace, they may deem it prudent to combine their marketing strategies - and come to find that catalogs and the internet go hand in hand" (see separate article this bulletin).

"With the online CASzine version, we don't have any print timeline. We can add and adjust. We can put a CASzine out as the weather changes and we can be very sensitive to the retail environment," Pallin says.

As a result, Paddy Pallin has been able to be more reactive to the demands of its customers while also being able to provide sales generating "infotainment" via rich content marketing. Paddy Pallin Caszines typically include product care instructions, videos, live interviews and travel information for their "adventurer" target audience.

"For us that's very exciting. This format is so fast, so direct and you can get so much information across, I think we can make it an even better resource for customers going forward."

While infotainment is core to the digital catalogue, Pallin also admits it'll be an education tool for customers too. "I think the market out there is very confused and there's a lot of noise about price at the moment and what's being lost in the mix is quality," he says.

"For me it's about teaching people how they can judge a product on quality and not just price. That's probably the core message with our CASzines."

CAS Creative Director, Stephen Wong says, "The idea of the CASzine is to give someone a great experience and motivate them to click through.

It almost acts as window to our client's store. We want customers to action something whether it's to buy or to find out more information. What we do is make the CASzine as interactive as possible. Instead of having three paragraphs of copy we'd rather have a video. Instead of having a static image we will add animation. This gives the customers a far more engaging experience, it's that something extra." he says.

To see two different approaches to Paddy Pallin CASzines you can view the July 2013 Emag and the Winter 2014 Ecatalogue

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