Coinciding with the new Ipad release, Apple just opened a new category of app in its App store, called “Catalogs”. This category could trigger many innovations in the field of virtual catalogs, which are becoming must-haves for brands and retailers.

Virtual catalogs apps get a category of their own in Apple’s app store


On the top of the new iPad release, Apple just added a whole-new category in the App store called “Catalogs”. A few hundreds apps have already been added to this new category, including Catalog Spree, Saks, Toys’R’Us or Ikea. Previously listed under Utility or Lifestyle, the Catalogs apps are aimed to be shopping tools, in different areas of interest. Digital catalogues are not exactly new – they have been mushrooming since the boom of tablets – but the creation of a dedicated category in Apple’s app store turns them into legitimate iPad apps and gives more visibility to brands, retailers and their digital catalogs, also stressing the importance for retailers to virtualize their paper catalogs for an increased visibility and competitiveness online.

Switching to virtual catalogues becoming crucial for retailers

Apps like Flipboard – that aggregates users’ feeds and turning them into a glossy magazine fashion – have already raised awareness about tablets being great tools for virtual magazines and catalogs. The touchscreen lets users interact with content and products in a fun and intuitive way and lets brands create immersive experiences – think 3D models, easy flipping of pages, customization, etc. A last year study reveals that iPad users buy more frequently and spend more money than the average PC or mobile shopper, which means that developing an iPad catalog can boost e-commerce and result in actual ROI. Aside from providing the ability to create deeper user experiences, the dematerialization of traditional paper catalogs also lets brands update and synchronize content instantly to bring a unified experience to all users. Tablets apps therefore also empower sales representatives and staff in stores – they can provide customers with fresh and up to date information in a comfortable way, as iPad interfaces are also more intuitive for staff. With the growing penetration of iPad apps, virtual catalogs on tablets are becoming crucial to create an engaging experience and to bring more business.

Creating an ecosystem in the Apple store

Before this, retailers could already have a catalog app on the Apple Store. The Apple’s move could mean a lot for both retailers and developers; not only does it raise Apple device holders’ awareness about this app category, but it could also open the gate to a whole app ecosystem based on virtual catalogs and boost e-commerce. The first app that was featured in the new category was catalog shopping app Catalog Spree, which lets users browse and shop from about 100 brands. Apple’s “Catalogs” category could encourage the development of such third-parties apps that gives visibility to brands outside of their own virtual catalog. “Whether offering payments for goods through catalogs becomes an extra revenue stream for Apple remains to be seen, but what is more obvious is that it would deliver a lot of value to those owners of catalog apps” says Gartner’s Carolina Milanesi.