The Wall Street Journal reports that J.C. Penney is bringing back its mail order catalog, five years after it stopped mailing print catalogs in favor of the cheaper online version. It turns out that customers like getting old fashioned “wish books” in the mail- and, most importantly, they buy stuff online after seeing the products in print:
A half-decade after killing off its hefty catalog to focus on the Web, J.C. Penney Co. is bringing it back, armed with data showing that many of its online sales came from shoppers inspired by what they saw in print.
The new, 120-page book will feature items from Penney’s home department and will be sent to select customers in March, the first time the struggling department store chain has sent out a catalog since 2010.
The move highlights an oddity of the digital age. While shoppers are increasingly buying everything from shoes to sofas to cars over the Internet, they still like browsing through the decidedly low-tech artifacts of page and ink.
Catalog mailings are down considerably from 2007, when they peaked at 19.6 billion, according to the Direct Marketing Association. But in a sign the decline may have bottomed out, mailings grew in 2013 for the first time in six years to 11.9 billion.