The Anatomy of an Effective In Store Catalogue

Written By Allen King

I purchased my first machine back in 1982 and started protecting portfolio books for photographers. 30 years later, I’m proud to say Express Encapsulating is the largest encapsulating business in the UK, with the aim of protecting the nation’s print from damage, so print can look better, for longer, no matter where it ends up.

Published On January 25, 2022

You can easily irritate your customers if your catalogue is:
  • too bulky
  • poorly finished
  • confusing to navigate (or)
  • hard to read
In this article, I condense my 30 years’ experience finishing in-store catalogues into 4 key features that are critical for success.

Feature 1: Physical, printed pages for easy browsing

Physical pages make it easier to switch between pages to compare products.

When it comes to in-store catalogues, many retailers are now taking the digital approach. After all, we’re constantly bombarded with the fact we live in a digital age with smartphone-savvy customers who prefer to tap a screen rather than turn a page. And there is some truth to this, but with an important caveat – the customers know what they want to buy. Touchscreen catalogues are great for these informed customers because they can just type in the product, see the availability, double check the specifications and buy the item. But if customers don’t know what they want – or want to compare products – an effective in-store catalogue is much better. Digital catalogues work if a customer knows what they want. Physical printed catalogues make product comparison easier. They’re easier to browse because you can flip back and forth between products and pages (something you can’t do with touchscreen catalogues that don’t let you have multiple windows open simultaneously). Imagine you have an electrician comparing different types of wire. He can get in and out of the shop much faster by using a printed catalogue because he can flip to the relevant section and see the specs for each option across a couple of spreads. In 3 minutes, he’s identified the product he needs, and then he’s on his way. With a touchscreen, he needs to tap in and out of the different options, turning that 3-minute skim into a frustrating 10 minutes of technology rage.

Feature 2: Durability

Encapsulation is designed to protect print that is handled frequently.

The catalogue will be handled many times a day, every day when it’s on the shop floor, so it needs to withstand constant use. This means using high-quality stock and encapsulating film. Otherwise, the catalogues will quickly become tattered, rumpled and torn, which reflects badly on the brand and makes them harder to use. And you don’t want them to be hard to use!

Feature 3: Convenience

Customers don’t want to spend ages trying to find a product – they want to be able to flick through quickly, locate what they want and move on.

Some common problems with in-store catalogues:
  • too bulky – making it unmanageable.
  • too small – customers can’t read the product information without a magnifying glass.
  • not properly bound – it won’t lie open, and people will have a hard time turning the pages.
  • incorrect film – making the pages more difficult to turn without leading to breakages along the stress lines.
  • Using the right film is important here, too, because it makes it easy to turn the pages without leading to breakages along the stress lines.

Feature 4: Cost effectiveness

Finding the right balance between cost and quality is especially important with frequently updated in-store catalogues.

Obviously the catalogue needs to reinforce the store brand, but there’s a balance to strike when it comes to cost and quality. This is particularly true if you’re printing thousands – or even millions – each year because you have 4 or 5 different ranges annually. Stock is one important element here. There’s a common misconception that, because you’re encapsulating, you can get away with a lower quality stock. You can’t! Use heavier paper and light film to save money. However, paper is cheaper than plastic, so you’re better off using heavier paper and lighter plastic to achieve the desired look and feel. Check out these ways to make your print more profitable. Finish is another element to an effective in-store catalogue. Gloss finishes are generally less expensive, making them more popular for retailers that replace their catalogue every few months. Similarly, many also choose to leave the corners as they are (pointed), since it’s cheaper than rounding them. But if you need your catalogue to last longer, it may be worth paying for rounded corners to prevent fraying, which can ultimately occur after particularly extended use.

At Express Encapsulation we’ve got over 35 years’ experience in making print last longer and look better. If you need advice for your specific catalogue job call me on 01179 414 999 or email me on We can chat through the job requirements and your customer’s goals, and I’ll advise on the best approach.

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