Posts categorized ‘Retail & eCommerce’

How to Combat Cart Abandonment Through Digital Catalogs

Brands have discovered new ways to condense the path between purchase and checkout, yet many still experience high levels of cart abandonment. It is an increasing issue amongst retailers and as consumers become more and more savvy, the chances for these levels to climb higher is much greater.

The issue is not just happening with users that are adding items to their cart through product pages directly – it rings true through digital catalogs as well. While there is no one solution in particular that will eliminate all of the cart abandonment issues you’re having, there are steps you can take alleviate some of the pain.


Make Checkout Button Prominent

If you have embedded your digital catalog into a page on your website, chances are your users are able to easily get to their cart even when viewing a desktop version of your catalog. The header is still accessible and the cart button is visible, making the transition from catalog to cart seamless.

However, if you’re viewing a catalog on your tablet or mobile phone, the catalog experience can take up the entire screen making it more difficult for the user to access the cart. Zmags allows you to choose which feature buttons – including the cart button – you want to display within your publication viewer. By adding the cart button to your features tab, you can give your users a more accessible way to access their cart and increase checkouts all from your digital catalogs.

Offer Checkout Options After Items Are Added

Many retailers miss out on the chance to navigate their users to the checkout page right after they have added an item to their cart. Some believe this practice tends to frustrate the user, when in reality it is designed to act as a “digital associate” assisting you with your purchase.

Adding a “Checkout or Continue Shopping” option can easily be added through your eCommerce platform, which in turn can be prompted to be displayed after a user adds a product to their cart through your digital catalog.

Add A Checkout Link Within Your Catalog 

If the features tab is blocking content within your catalog and you do not have ability or resources to add the “Checkout or Continue Shopping” option, you can always create a Call-To-Action (CTA) on each page of your catalog that will bring users to the checkout page. You can easily add a CTA image and link the URL to the checkout page through the Zmags Publicator tool.

You’ll want to call out the option towards the beginning of your catalog so your users know where the button is and what function it serves as well. BONUS – this is also a great way to notify your users how to use your digital catalog, depending on the complexity and features within the catalog, of course.

As users become more savvy Internet purchasers, it will become more difficult to control the navigation path and drive them to where you want them to go on your site. Brands have become increasingly creative and effective with unique ways to decrease cart abandonment – What are some ways you have combated abandoned cart issues within your digital catalog?

Life of a Retailer: Examining the Schedule of a Retail Publisher (Part II)

In the first part of this two part series, we learned just how hectic the schedule is for retailers in the first half of the calendar year. The summer trends discussions start, spring fashions are previewed and launched, outdoor décor and home improvement ideas come to light, and even holiday planning begins in the later part of June.

What we’re about to learn in the second part of this series is that the second half of the year does not get any slower for retailers. Getting ready for back-to-school, the fall, and the holiday season are a few key areas in which retailers in general, focus their efforts. Let’s take a look at how digital magazineslookbooks, and online catalogs fit into the equation for the second half of the year.



The summer months are where retailers focus on ‘Back-To-School’ promotions. They are finalizing and distributing their digital magazines sometime in mid to late July, and making a push for it through the end of August. Early fall season (home décor, home improvement, winterizing the home) promotions will start at the end of August and run through early October.

For the very savvy retailers, holiday online catalogs and lookbooks are finalized – that’s right, finalized! In the first part of this series, we suggested that retailers start uploading (but not publish) mockup publications to see how they would look online before finalizing them. Now that they are finalized, retailers can go ahead and get a jump-start by uploading – and if possible, start linking – their publications within the Zmags Publicator tool.


With school back in session and the summer months an almost distant memory, the September/October timeframe marks the homestretch for the retailer calendar year. September is when retailers begin to get winter home and outdoor décor promotions up and running, finalize and distribute Halloween promotions, and continue with fall promotions.

October shapes up to be a very important month for retailers, because this is the time when Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions are discussed and finalized. Having the ability to be agile with these two promotions is critical. Being able to quickly link or make immediate updates to a flyer or circular is beneficial, and can be done easily with the Zmags software.



In the final two months of the year, retailers have to be on their toes making sure their eCommerce enabled sites and online catalogs are performing correctly, they are making the necessary price adjustments, and they are monitoring the success of their promotions/campaigns. However, that’s not all that is required of them during this time.

Retailers have to start thinking about what they are going to do with the excess holiday inventory – sales, promotions, creating circulars or flyers specifically for the inventory. They are also making decisions on Valentines Day promotions, and believe it or not, the spring inventory (clothes, outdoor/indoor décor, recreational products) is being mapped out and finalized as well.

So as you can see, the life of a retailer is anything but boring. Months and months of planning goes into creating remarkable online shopping experiences, and we as consumers sometimes don’t realize how far in advance – and how hectic – the planning and decision making begins. Solutions such as Zmags offer a bit of relief for retailers, saving them time and resources when producing and promoting their publications.

Retailers – how has Zmags helped save you time and what advice can you give other retailers that are not yet taking advantage of all the benefits this software has to offer?

Life of a Retailer: Examining the Schedule of a Retail Publisher (Part I)

The holiday sales have come and gone, the after-holiday returns and exchanges have been made, and now retailers have a few months to catch their collective breath before diving into the next big promotional period…right?

It may come to a surprise to many, but retailers actually never get a break when it comes to producing the next publication or planning for a promotion that is months away. For certain promotions and seasons, the planning starts three, four, even six months out in some cases.

In part I of this two part series on a ‘Schedule of a Retail Publisher’, we’ll take a deeper look into the schedule of a retail publisher and how the production of digital magazines fits into the schedule. (Note: This is not an exact schedule for all retailers.)

The Good Guys Catalog 140114


During the early part of the year, retailers are assessing the holiday season – did they hit their sales target, how did their promotions perform, were their catalogs effective, and so on. However, there is no rest for the weary as discussions surrounding this Summer’s look and feel begin to happen.

While all the products might not yet be available on a retailer’s eCommerce site just yet, it’s still a good a good idea to start planning the layout of your digital magazine. Pre-planning a layout can help retailers determine what products they want to feature and how they want to tell their brands story.


There is quite a bit that starts happening in March. The Spring fashions preview comes out indoor/outdoor décor ideas come to light, and retailers start gearing up for an Easter push. In April, the Spring clean up and home improvement products start getting added to weekly flyers and circulars, Mother’s day is no longer an afterthought and the Spring apparel season is in full swing!

With the constant change in products on a weekly basis, retailers are under immense pressure to plan and produce their flyers and circulars. Zmags’ Publicator tool makes it possible for retailers to easily upload and produce their online catalogs with ease and efficiency.

PartyLite Catalog 131219


As retailers approach the half-way point in the year (sounds scary, but it comes up on us rather quickly), May serves as yet another busy month with the Spring season coming to a close, the focus on Summer starts to take shape, Father’s Day is right around the corner as well as High School and College graduations, and 4th of July discussions begin a this time as well.

Weekly flyers and circulars still play a huge part in these final two months of the first half of the year, but leading into June the…wait for it…holiday planning starts. Yes, I said holiday planning. It may sound like it’s too early to start planning the publications and promotions, however since the holiday sales last so long and are the most important to many retailers revenue for the year, the focus and planning needed takes time.

Some of Zmags clients start uploading mockups of their online catalogs and lookbooks to determine if visually they layout and structure make sense within a Zmag. Linking and overall production will not start at this time, but having the ability to see your publication structure in the format in which it will be distributed is extremely beneficial for retailers.


As you can see, there is no real ‘lull’ time for retailers. Being strategic and proactive can save time and money in the end, and with the retail environment being so competitive, it’s critical for retailers to get a jump on the competition. As a retailer, how are you being proactive with your online catalog strategy?

Keep an eye out for Part II of this series where we will discuss the second half of the year in the life of a retailer. 

Digital Retailers Already Prepping for Peak Season

I am based in London in the UK, and for the first time in a long while, we have been able to enjoy a great sun-filled summer. The retail press has been full of good news stories for a change, especially for the impact the heat wave has had on fashion retailers who have been able to delay their sales, and reduce sale discounts to show great year-over-year improvements in sales of summer lines.

But, we all know the summer will soon be over, vacations will be distant memories, and the real work starts in earnest as preparations are made for the key peak season.


joules-christmas shot


I wanted to use this blog to provide some inspiration for those currently finalizing plans for peak campaigns. Zmags digital catalogs were used by some of the world’s largest and most renowned brands last year to create stunning digital content experiences to provide gift ideas. And the good news is,  they worked!

Rocket shipHere are some performance highlights from brands using online catalogs and gift guides in Q4 2012:

  • Share of tablet/mobile visits 22.6%
  • Zmags ecommerce conversion rate 173% higher on average than website average
  • Average order value for Zmags shoppers increased by 18%
  • Average time spent on site increased by 144% for those that viewed a Zmag

Additional results from last holiday season can be found in our 2012 Digital Catalog/Magazine Benchmark report


Zmags has created a lot of statistical research to show how presenting product in a linear experience is leading to higher page views, product views, engagement times, and ecommerce conversion rates – these are amplified through peak season due to the pressure of needing to find gift ideas for family and friends. The Zmags format has proved a more engaging and inspirational way to allow consumers to discover your product compared to traditional website layout.

Here below are just a few examples of what our clients created last year (please note ecommerce links are no longer active):




If you are planning to send any print campaigns to your consumers this holiday season, then having a digital Zmag version that is fully shoppable and can be viewed in HTML5 across devices could be a great way to make your investment in the printed collateral go much further, whilst enriching your website to create a truly joined up campaign. You may also want to create something bespoke for the digital channel, and Zmags is well placed to help here too with best practice advice on techniques to build highly engaging and great performing digital marketing and ecommerce campaigns.

Whether you are bringing a print campaign to digital or starting fresh with a digital publication, consult the Zmags 2013 Holiday Playbook for  any e-commerce endeavor this Holiday season. Additionally, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a consultant in your area to find out more about the Zmags Commerce Edition Solution

How Costco Uses Zmags to Generate Footfall

laptop browseZmags is a very versatile digital publishing platform and can be used to drive revenue in several ways. The most obvious way would be by using Zmags’ Commerce solution to facilitate the product purchase directly from the page in the catalog/brochure online. This will seamlessly synchronize with the existing ecommerce infrastructure and allow products to be added to cart in the same way it would from any other product page.

What might not be so obvious is how an online flyer or catalog can help a marketing team to generate footfall to their stores.

I came across this fantastic example from Costco UK today, who present their coupon books 16 times a year through Zmags.

Encouraging Results:

The results we can see from these campaigns are very encouraging. Costco promotes these wholesale offers to its  members via email and print distribution. 40% of the visitors spend 2-5 minutes just going through these pages, and the very nature of the content means that around 80% of the visitors view every single page in the Zmag – this is incredible engagement for something which users can then print or save to use in-store. As the offers are only available to the wholesale trade, the aim is that the user takes these offers and buys in-store.

Costco UK screenshot

By using specific codes which track the source of the coupon, Costco is able to attribute the source of the revenue to the various campaigns, which along with the comprehensive Zmags analytics allow them the get a full view of how this is working to achieve business objectives.

Do you have similar goals from your online marketing efforts? Are you looking for new ways to generate footfall from online efforts? Get in touch today to get a demo, or speak with a consultant about how this might fit strategically for your business.

MITX Mobile Migration Summit: Why to Focus on Tablets for Ecommerce

At last week’s MITX Great Mobile Migration Summit, I spoke to an audience along with Joan Connor from PartyLite, a home fragrance direct selling company, on “Why Tablets Will Outpace Smartphones:  Trends And Tips To Optimize Every Customer Interaction“.

photo 2

Our main objective?   To provide marketers and agencies with some creative ideas on how to capitalize on the distinctions between tablets and smartphone users – with the goal of helping them improve the digital experience for their customers.

Tablets are used more during leisure time (at night and during the weekends), while smartphone users tend to be on-the-go, looking for quick-hit website searches, directions, etc.  So, consumers are in a more relaxed mindset on tablets, often lingering on websites longer and viewing more content and pages – with up to 1.7x more pages viewed on tablets than on smartphones.  This multi-screen behavior of “couch commerce” while watching TV can lead to impulse buying and larger average order values among the tablet segment of shoppers.

tablets vs smartphones

Here are the Top 5 Tips we covered in detail

1.  Design for digital using HTML5
2.  Shoppable online catalogs
3.  Sales enablement
4.  Device recognition
5.  Tablet apps



PartyLite has been a Zmags client for several years, but has been printing catalogs for nearly 4 decades!  At first, PartyLite’s Zmags were just digital replicas of its print catalogs.  Several pages, such as candle ordering grids, did not translate well on screen – forcing shoppers to spend extra time just zooming in on all of the details.   At Zmags, we noticed this in the data, and recommended designing for digital, using interactive elements and a streamlined layout to create a better user experience, especially on tablets.

Joan’s team at PartyLite took this advice, and have since had incredible success with new optimized digital catalogs that focus on key collections they want to promote in their assortment, instead of long, comprehensive books.  The response has been extremely positive among Consultants (direct sellers) and their customers.   The PartyLite creative team, seeing the clear benefits, now photographs and designs for digital FIRST and print SECOND!

Take a look at PartyLite’s latest Zmags catalog, a great example of the rich photography and crisp layout that works well to inspire purchases on tablets.PartyLite ScentGlow

For a complimentary copy of the presentation, please contact us!


Merchandising via Digital Catalogs: Your Online Storefront

Online merchandising is a less-talked about part of ecommerce that, in theory, should achieve a similar goal as its in-store conterpart:  to “display products in such a way that stimulates interest and entices customers to make a purchase”.

traditional site

However, the layouts of most traditional ecommerce websites look more like image libraries (organized by item type, size, gender, etc.), rather than well-thought out displays or showcases!   Despite good intentions, even website features such as  “You may also like”, “Recommended for you” and “Related products” just don’t have the same effect as in-store merchandising — where products often pack more punch in combinations than each would individually.

Why are websites so far behind?

And how can online catalogs help?   By enabling the creation of orchestrated e-commerce experiences.

In other words, if done well, online merchandising within digital catalogs blends tactics from both traditional offline and online sales channels — bridging the gap between stark websites and creative brick&mortar window displays.  While print catalogs allow for the same kind of curation, they don’t give you back the same kind of data to learn from!   Digital versions can be rearranged and segmented based on analyses of user behavior within the catalog, such as which pages are attracting the most attention, which products are clicked on most, etc.

Some ways to make the most of your digital storefront:

-Start with traditional merchandising tactics:  Product groups or displays used in stores can provide the basis for website layouts, before in-catalog web analytics comes into play.

-Experiment with creative combinations:  Look at recent sales data.  Which types of items are people often buying together?  How can you encourage them to purchase additional items?  One great example, below, from The Container Store, places shoe storage containers alongside mothballs and air fresheners.

Container Store Merchandising

-See what’s attracting attention:  Heat maps (or in-page analytics) show what your site visitors are clicking on most; shopping cart funnel data reveals which items are carted but for some reason not checked out.

-Look at other key performance metrics for your digital content:   Analyzing what works and what doesn’t work over time (test, adjust, retest!) can  paint a clearer picture of how to combine your online content and merchandise for optimal performance.

-Vary merchandise combinations by segment, such as website entry point:   Where a visitor came from can help predict what they’re looking for.  Product images or combinations shown could be served up differently for users who come from social networks vs. search engines vs. particular referral links (etc.).

The results will be better sales, higher conversion rates, and better engagement metrics for your catalog.  (Recently, a kids’ toys and apparel brand saw an increase of over 300% more dollar spent, and 250% more items carted, when they featured related items on the same online catalog pages!)

Driving Customer Service that Fosters Brand Loyalty

“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.”

-Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart

customer service

Customer Service, as Mr. Walton sees it, must be married  with corporate objectives and the bottom line. I would be inclined to agree.

The customer experience is certainly becoming (or already is) the next competitive battleground or playing field.

Fortunately for Zmags, we have always seen the customer experience as the way to foster brand loyalty and we pride ourselves on the service any of our customers will receive when they interact with our team.

Ultimately, if our customers are successful we are successful. So it’s essential to partner with them, support them, and learn from them to drive us forward from both a service and product standpoint.

We benefit from the word of mouth that a “wow” customer experience provokes and we learn from any negative experiences to improve the customer service throughout the organization.

The bottom line, especially when we compare our services to our competitive landscape, is that offering a fantastic customer service not only supports the product offering but can in essence be a standalone product itself.  Meeting expectation is easy; exceeding it is what will ensure that you stand out and have a competitive advantage.  Our key drivers are to provide a customer experience that exceeds expectation, to measure & learn from it, and to communicate both back to the customer and the organization.

Providing a Customer Service


  • Net Promoter Score – great way to measure not only your service but how likely this service is to positively or negatively impact the business
  • Irritant Matrix – Make sure that Support Tickets and feedback is measured and acted upon in the right way.


  • Surveys – Feedback, feedback, feedback! Ask your customers for honest feedback and reward them for it.
  • Always close the loop – respond to all feedback with gratitude and an action plan
  • Beta Programs – Involve your customers in new product developments; they know the product well and love to feel part of the journey.


You may be competing in terms of Price, Product, Place & Promotion but you’ll be nowhere without a Perfect Service.

Digital Catalog/Magazine Benchmark Webinar Recap

Yesterday I led a webinar highlighting key findings from our first Zmags Quarterly Digital Catalog/Magazine Benchmark Report.  (That is a mouthful.  ZQDCMBR?  Not much better!)

zmags-ebookFor anyone interested who was unable to make it, not to worry!  You can still watch the webinar recording anytime.

This new quarterly research study defines digital publication benchmark performance on key metrics.  To stay within my allotted hour, the webinar  focused  primarily on the retail/ecommerce and apparel/fashion industries.  Key points covered in the session included:

1. Online catalogs and magazines are gaining traction with consumers, and mobile traffic to these publications is on the rise — exceeding over 1 in 5 visits to Zmags in 2012

2. Retailers with online catalogs see much higher conversion rates among this segment of shoppers.  In Q4 2012, the average ecommerce conversion rate for digital catalog viewers was 173% higher than website visits that didn’t include the experience.

3. Apparel/fashion digital catalogs performed even better on key metrics than other retail categories.  During the holidays though, competition for these consumers’ time is even stronger than during the rest of the year–so brands need to be creative in order to stand out.


The event had solid attendance and some great questions were asked at the end.  Two worth sharing:

1.  Is it possible to measure the impact of digital publications on in-store traffic?

Yes!  There are a few ways this can be done in Zmags:

a. Include links to your store locator page in your online catalog.  The number of clicks on these links and CTR are indications of the interest in seeing and feeling products in stores that your catalogs are generating.

b. Feature unique codes (discounts, QR), coupons or even products that can only be redeemed in stores.  Calculate total redemptions as a percent of Zmags visits to measure influence and success.  (Then, on shoppers’ receipts, feature a link to your newest online catalog in order to repeat the cycle!)

2.  Where can I find out more information about the benchmarks in my industry, which is automotive?

These and other detailed results are available in our exclusive whitepaper.   To see how Zmags performance varies by industry, see page 9 — which includes key metrics broken down by travel, auto, food and beverage, publishing/media, and more.


Looking ahead, it’s already time to start analyzing the Q1 data!  Our full webinar series schedule can be found here; check back soon to sign up for the Q1 2013 Benchmark webinar!


Our 1st Quarterly Digital Catalog Benchmark Report: 2012 Release & Webinar next week

Next Wednesday, April 10th at 11 am ET/ 4 pm GMT I’ll be leading a webinar about the 2012 Zmags’ First Digital Catalog Benchmark Report.  The findings detailed in this report are aimed at helping Marketers, Content Strategists, Ecommerce leaders, etc. know what to expect to achieve via this type of collateral.

We aggregated performance data across more than 24K online magazines and catalogs that were activated by Zmags customers in 2012 to establish a baseline on key metrics, including:  visitation levels, conversion rates, time spent per visit, and more.  Moving forward, quarterly updates will be released to expand upon these learnings – to help you stay up-to-speed on the latest digital catalog trends and developments over the year.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the key points I’ll cover in the webinar:

  • More than 1 in 5 visits to online magazines and catalogs are from mobile devices (smartphones or tablets)
  • The best-performing online gift guides last holiday season were actually fairly short — fewer than 20 pages — and aimed at specific audiences and segments
  • Plus, hear our top 3 digital catalog/magazine predictions for 2013 (hint:  “one size fits all” is a thing of the past!)

Click here to sign-up if you haven’t already!

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