Interactive catalogs are powerful tools that anyone who sells online can utilize. Retailers, wholesalers, resellers, and vendors have used them for years to enhance their customers’ shopping experience. That being said; it’s not quite as simple as dropping some images and a description into a PDF and hoping for the best. 

If done correctly, interactive catalogs can drastically reduce the friction between seller and customer, increasing sales while decreasing unnecessary headaches. Interactive digital catalogs are a cornerstone of many businesses marketing efforts. They need to be planned out, well designed, and easy to navigate. Otherwise, you could lose the client at first glance.

We at Flipsnack definitely don’t want that to happen. In fact, our platform is designed so that you’re equipped with the tools to do the opposite. We want you to increase sales, and this article is going to tell you exactly how you can do that by creating a shoppable online catalog.

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What is an interactive catalog?

An interactive catalog is just like any normal catalog, only with interactions. Done in a digital format, an interactive catalog utilizes elements that require deeper interaction between the reader and the catalog itself.

For example, with an interactive catalog, you can add videos and links to help guide and educate customers on products. You can use shopping tags, CTAs, image slideshows, lead forms, and many other elements to help increase sales. This is something that printed, non-interactive catalogs simply cannot do.

Shoppable catalogs are often used in unison with eCommerce to help enhance the interactivity of the buyer’s shopping experience. Some people even create an eCommerce product catalog specifically.

There are numerous benefits to creating a digital, shoppable catalog. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves yet. In this article; we’re going to go over exactly what makes an interactive catalog better than a standard, printed one; and the list of benefits that come along with it.

What makes digital catalogs better than print?

Some people, retailers included, prefer good old-fashioned printed catalogs, and some people prefer digital. But is there really any difference? Of course! And without a doubt; shoppable interactive catalogs are better.

Let’s set the fact that you can make them interactive aside (although that is a massive plus). What makes digital catalogs better than printed ones?

  • Cost
  • Ease of distribution
  • Maintenance and updates
  • Personalization
what makes digital catalogs better than print?

These four factors are sometimes overlooked when creating a printed catalog. Anytime you walk into a big department store, no matter where you are in the world; there are thousands and thousands of printed catalogs upfront. As you’re walking around the store; you’ll see them shoved in between products on shelves, crumbled up on the floor; and in just about every trash can you can find.

Printed catalogs may be nostalgic, but that’s just about it. They cost more to make, they aren’t very easy to distribute, they require a lot of effort to maintain and update; and they offer very little in the way of personalization.

An interactive catalog, on the other hand, is much more cost-effective. You aren’t using paper or ink; which cuts down on your expenses immensely. They can be distributed through just about every digital channel, including email, social media, and website embeds. Maintenance and updates are as simple as logging in and changing some information, images, and descriptions; which is impossible with a printed catalog. And on top of all of that; you can personalize them in any way you want in a flash.

Looking at this basic information (because there are no doubt more reasons why digital catalogs are better than print), you can see just how superior interactive catalogs are. 

Why digital catalogs are important to retail marketing

Given the information above, there must be a reason why digital catalogs work so well in the retail space, right? Right! Especially over the traditional methods.

Infographic detailing why interactive catalogs are important to retail marketing

In the retail and wholesale industry, you’ll need every boost to your sales that you can get. People that are shopping want to feel the convenience and professionalism of your catalog. By inserting things like shopping links and other interactive elements; you can greatly improve the performance of your catalog, hopefully leading to more sales. Here are five reasons why interactive catalogs work so well in retail marketing.

Why interactive catalogs are important to retail marketing:

  1. Interactive catalogs allow you to add links and product tags
  2. They can be embedded on your website, front and center
  3. You can schedule them to be distributed on certain dates
  4. Interactive catalogs can be used in top-funnel marketing campaigns
  5. Using interactive catalogs, you can increase brand awareness

Of course, there are tons of reasons why digital catalogs are important to retailers, wholesalers, eCommerce shops, resellers, and vendors; but these points are a really good start. Let’s get more into details below. 

1. Interactive catalogs allow you to add links and product tags

Links and product tags are what make digital catalogs interactive and somewhat fun. These two elements combined give the reader everything they need to know about the product before purchase. You can direct them to a page with more information; or simply insert all the information they need with a product tag.

Not too long ago here at Flipsnack, conducted a survey that proved to be a more in-depth analysis of what it means to publish digital interactive catalogs online. It seems like, according to our survey; Flipsnack clients who used interactivity in their catalogs have seen a sales increase. 

Using links was the most used interactivity feature in their shopping catalogs. So, if you need to make interactive catalogs that stand out and help with your retail strategy; make sure to include them in your work. 

2. Interactive catalogs can be embedded on your website, front a center

One of the most unique properties of a digital catalog is that it can be embedded on most websites. Instead of a customer having to visit a store or requesting that you mail your catalog to them; they can simply jump on your home page and view the catalog from there. 

3. Interactive catalogs can be distributed on a schedule

We’re all creatures of habit. If we know a sale is coming up, we will anticipate it; looking forward to the savings we’re going to get. The beauty of digital catalogs is that you can make them on a scheduled basis; distributing them to your customers weekly, monthly, quarterly, or really whenever you see fit. Customers will begin to anticipate your sales and know exactly when they get to see your catalog.

4. Interactive catalogs can be used in top-funnel marketing campaigns

Being digital in format; digital catalogs are the perfect resource to push at the top of your sales funnel. The reason this works so well is that digital catalogs are a very familiar format to most online shoppers. Plus, everyone likes to do a little window shopping. 

The top of the funnel is designed to capture a wide audience. This means that you will need something that captures a lot of attention. Digital catalogs provide the perfect context that a new lead might need to make a decision to carry on through the funnel.

Even if they’re not used to the digital version of a catalog, they can quickly grasp how it works. Instead of using your fingers to flip through the pages, you use the mouse. Using this flipping effect, catalogs can be inspiring in their promotion. Readers instantly click and have a clear understanding of what you’re offering.

5. Interactive catalogs help increase brand awareness

Not only do you get to display all your products in a catalog; but you get to introduce potential buyers to a whole world of products. Your products!

For example, just think about the beautiful IKEA catalogs. They’re much more than just a collection of photoshopped images of minimalist furniture. They introduce you to a new world. By showing what your house could look like if you bought IKEA furniture. Just take a look at the image below. All part of IKEA branding. 

IKEA 2022 kitchens digital catalog

IKEA has made somewhat of a name for itself through these catalogs. They have become part of the brand’s identity, just like they can for anyone else. Everywhere you look in their catalogs’ you see their colors, logos, and their unique style that is highly distinguishable from anyone else. Even if the buyer decides not to buy anything’ IKEA just promoted itself through that catalog.

The truth is that it’s not just brick-and-mortar retail stores that can benefit from an interactive catalog. Wholesales, resellers, small vendors; and even eCommerce shops can all use digital catalogs and benefit from the list above. 

What makes a good interactive product catalog? 

Undoubtedly; as creative as you can be and as unique as you can make your interactive catalogs, there are a few things you can do to make them even better.

No matter what you’re selling, who your target audience is, or how big your customer base is; by adding the following elements to your digital catalog, you’ll undoubtedly be enhancing it and making it more shoppable.

What makes a good interactive product catalog?

  1. High-quality images
  2. Thoughtful design
  3. Clear product descriptions
  4. Easy navigation
  5. Interactive elements

1. High-quality images

You know what they say: A picture is worth a thousand words. If you don’t add anything else, high-quality images are a must. People are visual shoppers. We see something, we click it, and we make a purchase. 

product catalog cover with high-quality images

You have to make absolutely certain that the images in your interactive catalog are the best you can make them. No blurry, low-detail, or black-and-white images here. For retailers and wholesalers with loads of products to display, this can be quite a tedious task. However; if you take the time to make sure they look flawless, and I can assure you that people will be much more likely to purchase that item.

The best way to view this is to picture yourself in the customer’s shoes. No matter who you are or where you’re looking to make a purchase, blurry images are an instant turn-off. They simply are not professional, and they will lead to a loss of sales.

2. Thoughtful design

As important as the images are, how you lay them out and the rest of the catalog, too, is very important. In the catalog design world, I think that many of us have kind of fallen into the same design trap. We aimlessly add images side-by-side in a square format, adding a short description below it and continuing down the page until we run out of room.

Now if I’ve just described how you normally make your catalogs, don’t feel like you absolutely have to change it. Sometimes, that design works, and sometimes it doesn’t. The point here is to be thoughtful. 

Even in your interactive catalog design, you have to keep your brand in mind. That’s exactly why we here at Flipsnack provide you with everything you need to brand your catalogs. Adding your logo, your brand colors, and custom fonts is easy. You can even save formatting preferences so that everyone follows the same guidelines.

3. Clear product descriptions

What goes well with high-quality images and a nice design? Great catalog copy. Think about the last time you ordered food with a food description. I can bet that you’ve never ordered anything without a good description.

Why is that? Well, the images and design are just the beginning. They lure the customers in; but they aren’t the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. A clear description is designed to give the customer everything they need to decide whether or not to buy that product.

clear product description examples,  good and bad

You can include details like materials, useability, benefits, pain points the product solves, and so on. All of these are important details that the buyer might need. Otherwise; they’ll skip out on making a purchase entirely.

4. Easy navigation

Navigation is to a digital catalog like a steering wheel is to a car. It is not just important, it’s completely necessary to the functionality. We aren’t talking about printed catalogs where you have no choice but to flip through every single page. We’re talking about digital, interactive catalogs.

interactive catalog table of contents

With an inserted table of contents, you can turn your interactive catalogs in Flipsnack into a quick-to-navigate gallery of everything you have to sell. In other words; by implementing some simple internal linking, users can see your categories of products, click on them, and instantly be flipped to that page. 

5. Interactive elements

If you truly want to maximize your digital catalog, you have to add interactive elements. However; you absolutely do not have to jam some sort of interactivity into every square inch of your interactive catalog; but adding even just a few can greatly enhance the catalog experience.

So what kind of interactivity are we talking about? Well, here at Flipsnack; there are a number of interactive enhancements that you can add to your catalog to make it even better:

Product tags

Product tags in Flipsnack provide additional information and images for your products. For example; they allow you to promote your products in a better way, turning even the most basic catalogs into a better, more detailed catalog experience.


Captions are static icons that you can add anywhere in your catalog. Once clicked, they expand, providing more information about your products. Remember; it’s all about adding that extra layer of detail, so using a combination of product tags and captions can help you mix it up a little and help the customer.

Popup frames

Much like the previous two examples; the popup frame allows you to throw in some additional interactivity without taking up too much room in your catalog. Using this feature; you can display surveys, contact forms, music players, video players, photo slideshows, virtual tours, interactive maps, custom-built add-to-cart pop-ups, and more.

Spotlight images

Let’s say that you use a high-quality image; but the amount of images on screen doesn’t allow for a detailed viewing experience for the customer. No worries! Using spotlight images, the customer simply has to hover over the image. A spotlight window will appear; showing the image in a bigger and much more detailed format. 

Lead forms

Part of any selling process is gathering leads, and an essential part of any lead marketing is using forms. After all; you can’t sell to the right people if you don’t know who the right people are. Lead forms are the easiest way to collect information from your readers. In Flipsnack, you can add them directly to your catalog. 

Your interactive catalog is a great opportunity to collect valuable information from your leads. For example, let’s say a shopper sees an item that they like; but they need more information about it before they buy. Lead forms give the opportunity to inquire about a product with a single click. From there; the sales team can take over and help guide the lead to the final conversion.

Of course, you’ll want to use this with caution. Not every catalog or flipbook is meant for something like a lead form. If you insert such a form in every single catalog, depending on how often you release new ones, it can get annoying. So use them, of course, but use them sparingly. 


Adding photo slideshows to your catalogs is a quick and easy way to increase engagement. Sure; a nice image is more than enough to get the point across in some cases. But what about situations where you need more images? You certainly don’t want to take up a ton of room for a single product. The photo slideshow feature in Flipsnack is the perfect way to show more while maintaining the design of your interactive catalog.

Shopping list

One of the biggest points of friction when it comes to digital catalogs is the constant back and forth between seller and buyer. Think about it as if you’re in the customer’s shoes. You browse the catalog, find what you want, make note of it, and then send off the order. 

With Flipsnack’s shopping list feature; shoppers can browse, find the products they want, and add them directly to a PDF list. That list can then be sent off to the seller, and act as a receipt and a point of reference. This will greatly reduce the need to communicate at all, a very important detail for big retailers and wholesalers that deal with a lot of customers at one time.


Even in catalogs, videos are powerful marketing tools. Video gives you the ability to engage your audience on a completely different level. Instead of simply reading content, they’re able to watch and listen. Adding to the sensory factor gives your interactive catalogs that extra layer of engagement. Add a product review or a behind-the-scenes video of how it’s made. With a printed catalog, this isn’t even remotely possible. However; with an interactive PDF catalog, it’s as easy as a few clicks.

To summarzie, adding the interactive elements to your digital catalog is more than just entertainment. They add to your catalog’s shoppability, making the entire experience focus on the customer.

How to create your own interactive catalog

If you want to really stand out with your online catalogs nowadays, interactivity is key. We can’t make catalogs for you; but we can most certainly guide you every step of the way. Here are the six steps you need to take to make an interactive catalog in Flipsnack.

How to create your own interactive catalog

  1. Add images, product descriptions, and details

    After you upload your PDF, you’ll probably have images and descriptions ready to go. But if you don’t, or you need to make some changes later on down the road, that can be done in Flipsnack, too. To enter the Design Studio, hit the blue Editor button.

  2. Upload your PDF

    One of the main functionalities of Flipsnack is the ability to turn your PDF catalog interactive. With a few simple clicks, you can upload a single PDF, or you can upload them in bulk. But, if you don’t have your own PDF, we have editable professionally designed catalog templates.

  3. Design using your brand logo, colors, and fonts

    A good product catalog captures your brand story. Using Flipsnack, you can add your own branding to your static PDFs. This includes adding your logo, your colors, and even using the specific fonts and typography that you normally use.  

  4. Add interactive elements

    In order to maximize engagement, it is imperative that you add interactive elements to your catalog. Also from the Design Studio, you can add videos, links, product tags, and more to really enhance your customer’s experience.

  5. Activate the shopping list feature

    Make sure to activate the shopping list feature! Add a shopping button to act as a CTA, or spread the clicking area over the entire product with a shopping area. Whatever you use, make sure it complements the functionality of your interactive catalog.

  6. Distribute via email or embed on your website

    There are lots of ways to distribute your flipbooks in Flipsnack, but for your catalogs, none are more popular than sharing via email or embedding on your website. Both of these sharing options allow you to target your customers and email subscribers directly, without missing a beat.

Now you’re ready to make your own online catalog

We’ve made it to the end of our journey. So; now that you’re equipped with all the information you need to create your own interactive catalog, the only thing left to do is actually create one. However; you don’t have to do it alone.

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In conclusion; all you really have to do is follow the steps and advice that we’ve talked about above; make sure to add your own twist and branding, and let your creativity fly. Adding interactive elements such as shopping links, product tags, and videos is a proven way to increase your sales; so make sure you’re paying extra special attention to the creative process.

Above all else, remember that Flipsnack is here to help you with your digital catalogs. Quickly upload your PDF and add interactive elements in minutes. Turn your static catalog into something that engages, interacts, and converts.

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