Farmers and .99 offer glimpse of retail future with new interactive catalogue

Overseas, interactive catalogues are well-established and many large brands such as Tesco and Morrisons in the UK are complementing—and usually reducing the cost of—their printed material by producing something akin to a regular digital magazine. Some local retailers have already dipped their toes in this water, but .99 and Farmers believe their new interactive catalogue is something unique in the New Zealand market. 

“A true interactive catalogue is something that I’ve wanted to see .99 produce for several years now,” says .99’s chief executive and executive creative director Craig Whitehead. “And after a global search, we’ve finally found a platform that can truly deliver what we’ve wanted to create. I’m incredibly proud of the team that worked on this project, and really pleased that it’s Farmers who are our first client to take this important step into a new kind of digital experience. Interactive catalogues play a different role for a retailer than any other digital platform and we’ve challenged ourselves as an agency to deliver something for Farmers that couldn’t be achieved with a campaign site, a store website or a social app.”

Farmers, like many New Zealand retailers, invests a significant amount into its print catalogues, and sees them as a cornerstone of its sales and marketing activity. This won’t be changing anytime soon. But the potential for interactive catalogues is for them to become an important channel to provide a richer product experience, enhance what can be shared with their customers and reduce print costs.

Of course, such catalogues require a big database to work effectively—and, for .99, staff with the appropriate skills to create them—and Farmers is starting to develop that with its recently launched Farmers Club loyalty scheme. Progressive has successfully gone down the EDM route with its personalised Onecard MySpecials and TBWATequila also created an interactive catalogue/pimped out websitefor adidas to showcase the range of Super 15 paraphernalia. Slightly perplexingly, there was no e-commerce functionality on that site (seemingly because the retailers involved with the competition wanted consumers to buy the goodies in meatspace rather than online) and while the Farmers catalogue suffers from a similar omission, Whitehead says it’s just the beginning of the new developments in this space and there are plans to implement a shopping cart at a later date.

Farmers’ head of marketing Dean Cook says the feedback has been great and, based on what the customers have told him, they genuinely love it.

“In particular, they love the videos and rich media content we’ve been able to integrate, and the way they can focus on a particular product as they browse the catalogue and find out more about it,” he says. “It’s great for the team when they know our customers have been engaged by what we have produced for them.”

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