Why Zappos Catalog Needs Qualified Leads to Succeed

Zappos has turned a corner and decided to enter a world of competition. As a professional who has almost 14 years under her belt in the cataloging industry, I can confidently state that there are only two ways in which a new cataloger like Zappos will be successful in competing for holiday business via a catalog:

#1 The cataloger MUST have pre-qualified consumers. This means the consumer must actually request the catalog (this means to ASK/ SEEK) the catalog.

#2 The cataloger mails to its own internal database of shoppers.

The Holiday/Christmas mailing season is extraordinarily competitive. Thousands and thousands of long-time proven catalogers mail 2 to 3 months in advance, PRIOR to Christmas, then many will re-mail again the first week of December. Having said this, I believe that Zappos might be quite successful, (even though they are newbies to the field) yet they still have a lot to learn. My take is this –

Zappos has wisely decided to expand and promote their handbags, jewelry, clothing and fragrances (in addition to shoes). They apparently understand buying habits (especially those of women). A new pair of shoes often requires a new purse, and certainly no outfit is complete without the proper accessories (i.e. jewelry) with all items available to purchase at the same time.


Zappos has an enormous existing database of online shoppers. This may be an advantage when it comes to reminding previous customers about their brand, via a catalog. Even Aaron Magness, director for brand marketing and business development at Zappos.com in Henderson, Nevada said that one lesson he has learned is that “our lapsed customers have responded very well” to the catalogs, referring to shoppers who have not made recent purchases on Zappos.com.

Zappos has tasted the “sweet taste of high ROI’s” according to their mailing partner, Cameron Brown, President at King Fish, who stated that “So far, an average order from the catalog is more than twice the size of an average order that began on Zappos.com. "

Zappos has an extremely successful online database, consisting of already established, strictly online buyers.
What about the consumers who enjoy “flipping” and “feeling” the actual pages of a catalog. In fact, a vast majority of our existing 650+ merchants on Catalogs.com have shared a secret with us …. Most consumers are flipping, turning corners down on favorite pages, and then going to their computer (both at home and at the office) and quickly and efficiently typing in item numbers and placing the order online.

This type of buyer is different that a strictly online buyer. This type of shopper needs, wants and desires a print catalog which is VERY DIFFERENT than Zappos’s existing online database.

If Zappos were to join the Catalogs.com family, they would be taking a major step towards enjoying a whole new level of profitability by BUILDing a list of real and qualified catalog shoppers.

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