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 Joel's Blog

Browsing - A New Feature!!!  


Most of what I have been doing these days is working on our printed catalog. If you have ordered something from us in the past year or two, or if you have requested a catalog, you will be mailed one next month. Working on the catalog is brutal. It entails predicting pricing for the coming year and betting which products need to be featured. Even as I work on it I know more and more people are mostly shopping on-line.

But a printed catalog has one major advantage over most store software: with a paper catalog, you can turn the page and browse. It's a quick way to get a handle on all the products a company sells, and even if the descriptions aren't very long, a good browse can be massively entertaining.

A well-done on-line store will allow you to go into different departments to search, but you can't browse and leaf through the catalog. Most on-line stores work using a "tree" format, and once you start reading the product description, you have to back up and go down the tree again. Also, because on-line stores try to figure out what you want, the suggestions and "Other people bought this" features can make you feel that someone is scrutinizing your purchases or aggressively selling rather than letting you acquaint yourself with the products.

With that in mind, I am pleased to announce what might be the most important new feature we have ever added to the store. Now when you click on a product, the top of the page will offer you a few icons of products before and after the product you are viewing so that you can page through the entire on-line catalog. We're trying to offer the convenience of on-line shopping coupled with what I'll call the meanderability of the printed catalog. Try it here and tell me what you think.

Tags:Product News, Sales, and Promotions,Misc.
Comments: 13
09/23/2010Wilbur Pan
That's a really nice way of browsing through items, but the icons could be larger. I could only tell that there were different books to the left and right, but not much more, especially which book it was.
That's a nice feature, but it would be an improvement if the arrow icons didn't change positions. That way, when I'm "flipping" pages I don't have keep searching for the new position of the arrow key.
09/23/2010Mike Lingenfelter 
I like the new feature too. I also think the thumbnails could be a little bigger.

I also agree, I sometimes like thumbing through a catalog. I do feel guilty when I through it away. Even if it's going into the recycle bin.

A few stores I shop at are offering electronic versions of their catalogs. It's not quite like flipping through a real catalog, but not as much guilt :). I'm also seeing them embed links that will take you to their web site and product.

Also, as tablets and eReaders grow in number, I think you will see more and more electronic versions of things.

Thanks for the kind remarks. All the complaints are justified however please take another look now. I think I have gotten rid of most of the jerkiness and you get a little larger pictures when you hover - also captions. The captions go away if you move your mouse a little.


Glad to see you are improving a generally great site.
Iím sure youíre aware of the new Lee Valley online catalogs. That is the standard to aim for. But, your additions are no doubt a help.
09/23/2010Eric R 
I can see me spending a helluva lot more money at your company!
That browsing feature is a wicked good marketing tool.

Thanks Joel.
Nifty feature. I haven't see this style before, but works very well.

09/23/2010Dean S 
Stop showing me things that make me want to get out my VISA card!! Just kidding! Joel, I like the addition of thumbnails. I also love catalogs I can flip through, but feel guilty knowing it can be done easier, faster, and cheaper (not necessarily better) online.

McMaster Carr is well known for their electronic "print" catalog - which they have probably spent $millions$ to develop. I like their site because it gives a similar catalog "experience" without 23 pounds of paper!

Hopefully someday, when the prices get affordable, we will all have our iPads with our magazines, newspapers, and TFWW catalogs on them.

Until then, keep up the good work!
09/24/2010Joe McMahon 
What a superb idea! On-line libraries do this to show you books near the one that you were interested in. I have used the feature and really like it.

Once again, TFWW is at the forefront!

Thanks, Joel.
09/24/2010Andy Foote 
I like the thumbs because I didnt notice them for a long time but eventually, there they were. The main impact to me was seeing the chisels. There musta been more visual information because my plan to "get by with 6 nice chisels and 5 old bent junk chisels" flew out the window! I really like being able to see the details of the chisels like that- the texture of the metal where it's machined, and where it has been honed - another obs: the Festool paper catalog has been quite useful because of its photos. It's a view far superior to a webpage view. The gecko suction cup set in paper catalog truly shows the size and internet displays do not. Other pictures are probably zoomed and lit at a higher level. I start to feel the gravity field from the tool. Pulling at my budget, so to speak.
09/24/2010Chuck Volkel 
Reminds me of a Vendio made page at ebay, but I like it....and agree that the icons could be just a bit larger. It only took me five click to get from the chisels to the ultimate slip roll set.....
09/24/2010Andrew Gibson 
I love real life catalogues. I reference several that I have all the time, and a lot of the time simply to make lists in my head for if I win the lotto.
09/26/2010Andrew Lovelock 
I think it's a great feature Joel. Personally I think the size of the pictures is fine since you have provided hover tooltips that say what the items are. Nice work!
Comments are closed.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.
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