Leveraging your web marketing through virtual catalogues
In their most primitive form, virtual catalogues are the web versions of shop windows, displaying to consumers the products or services a company or retailer has to offer. But the introduction of affordable technology now allows for much more than this. In terms of viewing a product with 360-degree views, multiple angles and extreme zoom, users can do practically everything except touch the product they are looking at on-screen. Information can now be found via keyword searches and presented better with sharp text.
When comparing the costs of a virtual catalogue to a print version, it is no wonder marketers are turning their focus towards the former. According to Jim Coogan, president of consultancy firm Catalog Marketing Economics, prices range from $6 a page (around £3.77) to upward of $30 a page (around £18.84). On this basis, a 52-page catalogue could be made for as little as around £200. Add up printing and distribution costs for the paper variety and this figure is dwarfed.
As Coogan points out, a major benefit is “the ability to access catalogues anywhere or anytime - whether on your mobile device, at home, or the office - without having to search for the actual printed copies.”
In business terms, usually a reduction in costs equals a cheaper but less effective alternative. Not in this case. The features of a virtual catalogue have vastly improved from their humble beginnings, the advancement in technology providing a direct correlation with how valuable they are to marketers.
Coogan notes the ability to convert Flash to HTML search-enabled text so that spiders and bots can search catalogues is a major factor. Less technical features include having higher resolution photographs and a reduction in loading time for catalogue pages.
The power of a picture
A report by Brandbank, digital content providers for ecommerce, found that having multiple images of a product and having accurate information about a product are two of the most important features that consumers use to help them make a decision about purchasing online.
Some marketers have taken this to a new level. Many clothes retailers, for instance, now feature ‘catwalk views’ on their catalogues, showing a video clip of a model walking down a catwalk so consumers can see how the garment in question looks when worn.
The addition of a virtual catalogue to a website not only gives the consumer more to browse through, but also allows for greater analysis of products. Put simply, a user is much more likely to buy something if they can read more details about it and see more pictures of it. This is why they have become such a valuable tool for marketers.
A credible and engaging virtual catalogue is now both easier to create as well as easier to use from the consumer’s point of view. There is little doubt that hits to a website will be increased if one is able to search for products as if they were flicking through a printed catalogue – another feature that has been enabled.
Measuring the effectiveness of virtual catalogues is far easier than trying to do so for the print variety. A wide range of statistics can be obtained through various methods to give insight into the consumer market. The number of unique visitors through email links, advertisements, and click-throughs can be tracked so that the optimum way of increasing an online presence can be utilised and benefited from.
If the object of marketing is to increase sales, then marketing online certainly fulfils that aim.
Brandbank claims that companies have reported a 40 percent increase in sales from products being represented on the internet. An established online presence in today’s digital age is vital to marketers desperate to increase revenue, especially in the current financial climate.
Creating a fully functional, stylish and attractive virtual catalogue can only enhance a consumer’s view of the company, online and in the real world – and marketers are now cashing in like never before.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”