4 Reasons to Connect Print Ads and Catalogs to Ecommerce through Image Recognition

With eCommerce boom, we all thought traditional marketing, including print materials, would probably disappear to give way to exclusively digital content.

However, according to FGI Research, consumers still spend approximately $850 on purchases made from print catalogs each year. This proves that it still reaches a large audience that is being less and less taken care of by most of the companies.

One might wonder why a retailer would invest in something as costly as designing and printing materials to be physically sent to or handed over to customers when they could reach them through the internet. However, we probably shouldn’t consider print materials a competition to online formats, but a complementary channel to reach potential customers. That’s why it is important to connect print ads and catalogs to eCommerce.

Print Catalogs Are Not Disappearing, They Are Just Evolving

woman reading magazine

Print catalogs used to act as a remote ‘shop window’ in commerce in the past. Pages after pages were stuffed with product offerings and the higher number of products you managed to fit in them, the better.

For that, we don’t need catalogs anymore. What eCommerce has disrupted is the function of print catalogs. But rather than making them redundant, it has powered a transition in what they want to achieve. The paper catalog has acquired a whole new purpose. Being a valuable visual asset, it serves as a kind of inspirational lookbook whose aim is to direct shoppers to other purchase channels. It is one of the many customer touchpoints, and it can be linked to digital content through image recognition.

In a Primarily Digital World, Paper Still Tends to Trigger Stronger Emotions


During the past decades, business has increasingly gone digital, and many online-only companies have emerged. Yet, we must not disregard a specific trend that tells a lot about customer behavior. While ebook sales were on the rise when they appeared in the market, its growth has now come to a standstill. Meanwhile, physical books were proven to be here to stay. This is because the tactile experience provides a unique value that digital formats cannot achieve.

A study sponsored by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service found some interesting trends when analyzing how people reacted while looking at both paper and digital catalogs.

Users actually spent more time looking at print content when compared to digital formats. The emotional response was bigger and rates of memory retention and desire were increased. Take the example of receiving a letter by post, as opposed to an email from a specific person. The letter still gives that vintage, more personal feel. The good news is, retailers can leverage image recognition to connect their neatly designed, high-quality print catalogs and ads showing their top products with all their product range available online with a single feature.

It Creates a Proper Marketing Mix That Combines Different Values

connect print ads and catalogs to ecommerce

What consumers typically do when it comes to paper-based catalogs and magazines is to glance through the pages and see if they find something interesting for them. If something caught their eye, they usually turn to other channels -mainly physical or online stores- to proceed with their shopping journey.

Traditional digital marketing techniques aimed at accelerating sales and facilitating conversions. However, printed materials can help retailers engage with their customers in a more relaxed context. Image recognition lets shoppers scan items from catalogs or ads in magazines with their smartphone, from the comfort of their homes. This increases brand trust and provides more value to the retailer’s digital content through a more tangible medium. At the same time, it also enables a seamless shopping experience by blending one channel with another.

Scanning Print Materials Drives Traffic to Your Digital Content


Not only can you link your products to purchase pages to enable a frictionless buying experience, but also you can provide valuable information that the customer is used to look for online in just a snap. For example, product reviews, videos on how to get the most of it, ideas to inspire the use of a specific product, coupons to build loyalty towards your brand. Print becomes a true traffic driver for your eCommerce and creates an opportunity to start a conversation with your potential customers. You can even measure and keep an eye on how it converts.

Big companies, such as Ikea or Red Bull (with The Red Bulletin) are publishing and printing thousands of catalogs and magazines connecting to their digital spaces in a highly successful way. Online fashion marketplace Asos also chose to venture into print magazine industry with their own issue. Being a pure player itself, their print material is aimed to increase brand trust and loyalty while blurring the lines between digital and physical.

Catchoom’s extremely fast and accurate image scanning technology was chosen by Glamour magazine for their G-Live app. It provided readers with awesome functionalities after scanning a picture of a garment they liked when flipping through the magazine.