Somewhere catalog iPad app
Most heads in the retail business world are spinning with the overload of information flooding in concerning e-commerce, going mobile, tablets, and smart phones, and the possibilities and nuances with each topic. For many brands, they recognize the opportunities of social media, networking, and going mobile; itâ€™s not a question of whether or not to make the transition to mobile commerce, but rather how best to make that transition and what sort of mobile presence is best for your brand. The iPad is the perfect place to take any printed material (such as PDFs, magazines, and catalogs) and expand your reach as a brand.
As stated in a Nielsen study, the iPad has 82% of the market share for tablets in the U.S. and, as stated by ComScore, is responsible for 89% of tablet traffic. According to Relaxnews, people are using apps more than they use desktop computers and the web. People are not only social networking and playing games on their tablets and mobile devices, however; theyâ€™re also spending, and are predicted to continue to buy even more. Gpkendall recently wrote concerning a report published by noted Forrester Research, describing how mobile sales are predicted to increase by 39% annually, from $6 billion to $31 billion by 2016.
In light of those statistics, evaluate your options before diving headlong into the tablet world. The iPad is undoubtedly becoming a standard tool for business purposes, and some businesses are buying thousands of iPads, expecting the devices to do work for them. Each brand needs to figure out their own strategy for the iPad, and test the waters first. Knowing the possibilities and taking your time to ease yourself into mobile commerce is better than rushing into throwing your catalog into an app â€“ and incurring the subsequent costs and maintenance fees involved â€“ only to get a poor ROI.
If you are considering making an app, or want to make your catalog(s) mobile, there are two main options: you can become part of a collective or aggregate app, or have your own.
Having a collective app means your catalog is featured in an app along with as few as two, or as many as over one hundred other catalogs with a whole range of other brands and markets.
When I was introduced to collective apps, my immediate thought was, â€śWhy would I want to share space with other brands? Why risk losing sales and attention?â€ť On second thought, however, I saw that a collective app could be a great means taking that first baby step into mobile commerce and seeing whether having an app is right for a brand in the first place. Additionally, while there is the possibility that customersâ€™ eyes could be inclined to wander with other catalogs around, that road goes both ways; other brands could drive customers your direction as well. Tablet users who originally downloaded the app for one brandâ€™s catalog can have the unforeseen, pleasant surprise of seeing your catalog there.
Another aspect of a collective app worth considering is that, in terms of design and features, collective apps tend to be very â€ścut and paste.â€ť By this I mean that collective apps have a set template for all of their featured catalogs. For instance, the app for Catalogs.com has each catalog displayed on the same light brown background, with a colored border that varies from catalog to catalog around the open double pages. The features on the Catalogs.com app are limited to a table of contents feature, and a â€śMy Wishlistâ€ť feature. â€śCatalogue by TheFindâ€ť app is a little less generic; they display their catalogs by brand, as well as in product categories, in a large horizontal scrolling bar, with catalog and product pictures put together for a tasteful and beautiful collage-effect. â€śThe Findâ€ť has a more detailed table of contents feature (you can select a product category, or multiple categories); a keyword search tool that looks through every catalog on the app; a zoom tool; links to stores; a customizable â€śMy Catalogueâ€ť feature; and a sort of table of contents for individual catalogs, as well as product categories. Having the layout and features predetermined for your catalog can be a great benefit or frustrating drawback. If having your catalog on an app isnâ€™t the focus of your marketing strategy, or if you want to experiment with how customers react and utilize a mobile app and catalog, then sticking with a collective app and its set design template shouldnâ€™t necessarily be regarded with chagrin.
Another benefit of having your catalog in an aggregate app is that, to an extent, it can be an investment continues to give back. Until you are at the point where youâ€™re certain having a personal app would be the best for your brand, certain aggregate apps allow you to store multiple catalogs. Besides having great picture quality and a design that mirrors that of an actual catalog, the Catalog Spree app allows a brand to host numerous catalogs (it seems that retailers and customers appreciate this feature as well; the app had over 10 million catalog page views and gained 100k users in under 6 weeks after its initial launch). In a way, this method is similar to compound interest; by being able to add subsequent catalogs, brands can build on the quality of the catalog, and continue to add to customer satisfaction for larger mutual benefits.
Finally, I would argue one of the biggest advantages of taking your catalog to an app is creating convenience and benefits for your customers. Having an app â€“whether aggregate or your own â€“ allows your products or services and information to be more readily available. It allows a brand to prove better service, reach more people, and give them better information and a better shopping experience. Coffee Table is a fantastic app that exemplifies this because it enables individuals to shop through the app and the catalog, rather than making customers go back and forth between the catalog and the brandâ€™s website. Having your catalog on an app means shopping and information are made simple, and customers are made happy.
While there are upsides to collective apps, there are certainly downsides to consider as well. First, having a collective app can also means you are less in control over a number of factors concerning your catalog. One area where this is manifested is revenue, compromised mainly by collective app user fees. In addition to
Catalog branded app by Prestimedia
the original cost of putting your catalog on the app, many aggregate apps ask for a percentage of the sales generated from the app catalog. For a brand just emerging into the mobile commerce market, this isnâ€™t necessarily a horrible trade-off. However, if sales grow substantially, so you lose greater amounts of would-be revenue. On the same train of thought, having a collective app means less control over your content and time. While, hopefully, the appâ€™s curator intentions are to serve your needs, updates, etc. as the best and most timely fashion possible, you still donâ€™t have the same liberties of changing your design or updating your content whenever you wish. Your catalog is maintained on their time, not yours.
As I mentioned earlier, another drawback can be the simple fact that there are other catalogs to distract or deter your own customers. Testing the effectiveness of an app would mean taking this risk. On the other hand, over time you might see your brand flourishing in spite of other catalogs, even brands from the same market. If your audience/customer base is strong enough on its own, then one could argue that having your own app might be a future investment worth considering.
My conclusion: collective apps are a decent first step to integrating your brand into mobile devices and the e-commerce market, especially for those brands that are tentative to take that first step. A collective app can be a great starting place to begin tapping the growing numbers of individuals (and, therefore, potential customers) using tablet devices. Thanks to modern technology, putting your catalog on an app means more than clicking through pages and browsing; it means dozens of features to engage and interest consumers, and it means offering a different, convenient, complete, and intriguing shopping experience for your brandâ€™s devoted customers and interested newcomers. A catalog in an app can be a simple one-step place for customers to browse and buy.
What happens, though, after you feel youâ€™ve possibly hit a plateau with a collective app, or itâ€™s clear that you have a substantial ROI through the app? Begin the transition to having your own app, in addition to â€“or in the place of â€“ the representation your catalog has in a collective app. Think of it as growing some small plants in a garden among other fruits and vegetables and flowers, and then moving one of them into its own larger pot to flourish and grow even further. There are a number of solutions available to assist you in making this change. One of the premier solutions Iâ€™ve seen is Prestimediaâ€™s CustomPad solution, simply due to the sheer number of available options and simplicity of the end result. CustomPad offers more advanced possibilities for your catalog in terms of both features and the reach it allows. CustomPad is unique because once the app has been created, the finished product is entirely the customerâ€™s, no strings attached to Prestimedia, user fees involved. Prestimediaâ€™s CustomPad not only permits a brand to further expand its ideas for possibilities for their catalog, but it has the technology and skill behind it to make those ideas reality, with a cost-effective price. The CustomPad solution really frees brands from former limitations put on their catalogs and apps.
Ignoring the potential benefits apps and e-commerce offer would be a detriment to any brand. Slowly engaging and properly immersing oneself in it, however, can prove to be a powerful asset and genius move in the long run. An app can open a number of doors for a brand and can help a brand learn a great deal about how successful their brand can be with mobile devices and e-commerce; deciding on the kind of app to use is just a matter of selecting by which key you will open those doors.
My favorite collective apps in terms of both features and design:
-Catalogue by The Find
For more information on CustomPad :
Written by Caitlin Miles