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Crate and Barrel drives sales via re-imagined mobile catalog experience

Crate and Barrel is among the many retailers that is letting consumers shop its spring collection via a re-imagined mobile catalog experience for iPad and Android tablets.

At launch, TheFind’s Catalogue app includes more than 40 catalogs from national retailers and expects to feature 200 catalogs by the beginning of the back-to-school shopping season. For retailers, the app will get their products in front of customers looking to shop.

“Tablet computers represent a new opportunity in commerce,” said Usher Lieberman, spokesperson for San Francisco-based TheFind. “Already, many retailers are reporting that fully half of their mobile traffic is actually from tablets, according to Forrester Research.

“We believe that tablet shopping is a different paradigm, as the form factor and tactile screen lends itself to a more media consumption experience,” he said.

Catalog shopping is a $100 billion business with more than 20 billion catalogs printed and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, per TheFind.

However, many catalogers are under pressure from rising printing and postage costs.

“We have a beautiful catalog and would love to get it in front of as many people as possible,” said Jeff Reichelderfer, marketing director of San Francisco-based Tea Collection. “Getting our catalog in an app eliminates the printing and the postage costs, but there is still the challenge of getting in front of the right people.

“TheFind knows how to get our products in front of customers that are looking to shop,” he said. “I’m hoping TheFind’s Catalogue app will help us meet our customer acquisition goals.”

The children’s clothing retailer sees 10 percent of its traffic coming from mobile.

And, tablets are already a force to be reckoned with.

“Within mobile, the majority of our sales are taking place on tablets – so we know people visiting our site on their tablets love to shop on their tablets,” Mr. Reichelderfer said. “We are hoping that the unique shopping experience in TheFind’s Catalogue app will help new customers discover Tea’s globally inspired children’s clothing.”

Shopping tendencies 
TheFind’s Catalogues tablet experience is meant to stimulate consumer demand via tactile discovery.

In contrast, shopping on a desktop or a laptop is a more directed activity geared around search since consumers tend to already know what they are looking for, Mr. Lieberman said.

Shopping via mobile phones is geared toward the in-store experience with barcode scanning, local availability search, price checking, product searches and coupons.

“In contrast, we see iPads and Android tablets as an opportunity to present a shopping experience that is more passive and focused on discovery and inspiration, which is something that paper catalogs have always excelled at and is something the tablets were really designed for,” he said.

TheFind’s Catalogue app combines a catalog’s lifestyle images with individual product images from the catalog. These images are clickable, expandable and scrollable.

Some other catalog apps take a PDF scan of a catalog spread and shrink it down to the iPad’s 10-inch screen, which can be labor intensive and use a lot of memory, according to Mr. Lieberman.

The Catalogue app also provides a way for consumers to receive their favorite catalogs wherever and whenever they want without having to receive the actual print version.

Catalog tablets proliferating
When a user opens TheFind’s Catalogue app, the splash page features three catalog covers, which change dynamically based on what’s new.

Shoppers can customize their experience to see only the catalogs they are interested in. They can also save specific catalogs or individual products and share what has been saved.

As users scroll through the opening screen, they see the cover art for all of the available catalogs. They can open each catalog, zoom in on individual products and purchase through a browser window that opens within the app.

The Catalogue app is available for free download at as well as in the iTunes App Store, Android Market and Amazon app store.

TheFind is working on developing a similar application for Facebook. The focus will be on creating a socially-curated shopping experience on tablet computers that leverages ‘Likes’ from Facebook and the index of the Catalogue app for tablets.

TheFind was founded in 2005 as a venture funded by Bain Capital Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures.
Last summer, TheFind launched TheFind: Where to Shop, an application designed to let users retrieve comprehensive local store data from anywhere, via the Apple iPhone.

The company’s mobile apps have been downloaded over 1 million times. It offers a patented and searchable index of 500,000 stores and 450 million products.

TheFind’s catalog app for tablets joins a growing list of apps from individual catalog brands as well as at least two other catalog aggregator apps, Catalog Spree and

“There will be room in the market for a select few single store catalog apps, ones like Victoria’s Secret, who have a loyal following and who have had the foresight to re-imagine their experience for the iPad and do innovative things like add videos and other interactive content,” Mr. Lieberman said.

On the aggregator side, the consumer experience will help determine who the winners are.

“We think the winners will be determined by the depth and breadth of catalogs they are able to bring to the iPad along with the way they tailor the experience to fit with the way people use and want to shop from their tablets,” he said.

Final Take