Cataloguers say online sales attract more affluent customers than those who use paper catalogues; overall, people who can access the net are more affluent than people who don't have Internet access.
Companies also report other differences between online and offline customers. Officials at department store, Spiegel, said the firm's online customers are more likely to be male than customers who read the print catalogue. International Male finds that about 10 per cent to 15 per cent of its online customers are from outside the US, compared with 2 per cent to 3 per cent of its print catalogue customers. Different kinds of merchandise sell better online than in paper catalogues. Lillian Vernon, for instance, uses the Internet to sell overstock goods. And companies still can't always figure out why some things sell better online than on paper. "Shoes are doing well," said Spiegel spokeswoman Allison Scherer. "We think it's because Spiegel has a wide array of sizes, and people come to us because they know we have hard-to-fit sizes."
International Male finds that lower-priced items sell better online, which is understandable if people are squeamish about Internet security.