It’s Mail Order Catalogue Day! Why are printed catalogues still around?

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The 18th August celebrates the anniversary of the first ever mail order catalogue. Aaron Montgomery Ward, published and sent out the first mail order catalogue in 1872 – this consisted of a single sheet of paper showing his merchandise with a price list and ordering instructions.

Nine years later, the longest running catalogue was published – ‘Hammacher Schlemmer’.  The tool and building supplies catalogue, published their first catalogue back in 1881 and is still distributing today! (Which has obviously been updated since then…)

In a world that’s increasingly going digital, is there still a place for printed catalogues?

With technology and at the tip of our fingers, why are we still printing catalogues? Well, an American agency recently did a survey on their readers, asking how they’d feel if their quarterly catalogue became an online PDF – and 95% said they would prefer a printed version.

I think this is because despite the vast majority of us having internet access on computers or on mobile devices, we still enjoy picking up something physical and having a relaxing flick through! It’s been said that catalogue marketing is popular because of multi-channel buying – customers can have a browse through a catalogue without any adverts popping up and the pressure of buying, and can then place their order online with ease, knowing the company they wish to buy from and the exact product they wish to purchase. The other main advantage of ordering from a catalogue, is the ability to order the product over the phone, and it allows you to ask any questions you may have.

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This is Aaron Montgomery Ward’s first ever catalogue!

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1881 Hammacher Schlemmer – The longest running catalogue


This month, Western Industrial Products’ have published a new catalogue which coincides with their website – wiproducts.co.uk. Full of over 20,000 existing and new products, click here if you’d like to order yours!

Article compiled by: Laura Pay-Savage

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