Let me say off the top that I like tech, and in many cases, the higher the tech, the better. There are so many amazing technologic breakthroughs changing the landscape of all industries; indeed, the home furnishings industry is one of them. With that said, I find it amazing that there have been notable low-tech solutions that have been lifesavers for retail businesses since the pandemic started back in March of 2020.
The first attractive low-tech solution implemented by a number of our member businesses when the shutdowns occurred was phone sales. With all of the attention on chat, web, social media, and all sorts of digital options, it turned out that placing skilled sales associates on the phone and talking to people was a difference maker. It drove a lot of sales—the phone.
As stores began re-opening, there was a push to set appointments. This was something born out of the need to limit the number of customers in the store at any time. Once again, this concept of setting an appointment became an essential lifeline and a revenue driver.
Here we are now, more than two years into this new sales environment, and there’s something else making a comeback on the low-tech side. Catalogs. If you haven’t experienced it, let me tell you there are several retailers finding success sending catalogs to customers. Who said print is dead? These product prospectuses are back.
There’s a lot at work here. Many catalogs went by the wayside since COVID started lightening the load for mail carriers. Mailboxes are not as packed with catalogs as they used to be. Now, when one is sent to a consumer, it tends to stand out more. Remember, we’re in a time when we know that most people begin buying on their smartphones, computer, or tablet. They surf their way to selections as they head to a store to transact. Now it’s clear some customers have renewed desire to thumb through a catalog as a critical part of the buying process. There’s speculation with more “at home” time that it is now back in fashion to sit down and page through a catalog. If you don’t believe me, then let me tell you that the numbers are convincing. Many entities spending money producing catalogs find returns of anywhere from $35 and up for every dollar they spend. How does 35 to one, or better, work for you? Whether or not you decide to jump back into print or if it fits into your advertising spend and your advertising plans, that is up to you. The biggest takeaway to share with you is this—low-tech doesn’t mean low returns. Old school can be new again.