Regional furniture chain I.O. Metro debuts first catalog as part of strategy to aggressively grow sales, citing study that largest group of catalog retailers also sell online

Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen

Nov 2, 2012 – Business Wire

BENTONVILLE, Arkansas , November 2, 2012 (press release) – Knowing that the arrival of a glossy catalog is still a big event in many homes, I.O. Metro Furniture is unveiling its introductory offering. The 40-page book began arriving in mailboxes around the country earlier this month.

For I.O. Metro, a specialty lifestyle furnishings retailer that sells one-of-a-kind and eclectic furniture, art and accessories through its 18 Mid-South stores and online, the catalog is the next logical step in its strategic growth plan.

“I am very excited to share our introductory catalog with customers,” says I.O. Metro Founder/CEO Jay Howard. “Putting this together has allowed me to reflect on the growth of our company in the seven years since the first I.O. Metro store opened. We have evolved from a one-location boutique to a lifestyle brand with 18 store locations and an e-commerce and catalog presence.”

Consumers can view the digital version of the catalog at The mobile version of the catalog can be found at

E-commerce began last fall, with the launch of I.O. Metro’s redesigned website. Importance was placed on a design that was user-friendly and effectively communicated the story of I.O. Metro’s brand – distinguishing its offerings, business model and sales philosophy from other cookie-cutter furniture stores. Since the company was opening itself up to an entirely new audience, it was important that the website capture as much of I.O. Metro’s in-store experience and essence as possible.

Special attention was given to connecting the site to the retail stores and marketing efforts in general – through product icons that identify whether an item is made in the United States or part of the Eco-Metro or Metro Custom Collections, for example.

That continues to be the focus with the design of the catalog.

According to Media Finder, and online database of printed products, the largest group of catalog retailers – 8,302 – both print a catalog and sell online. That compares with 704 retailers that sell exclusively through print catalogs and 2,399 that only present their catalogs on the web.

Online sales are continuing to take a bigger share of retail dollars. “We’re predicting 15-17 percent growth outside of the stores themselves,” said Alison Kenney Paul, vice chairman and U.S. Retail & Distribution leader at Deloitte consulting, in a recent story. “Online via mobile via catalog — that’s where the real robust growth is going to continue to come from.”

I.O. Metro also views the catalog as a customer service feature. The catalog’s professional photography and styled rooms illustrate how diverse the retailer’s product offerings are and encourage customers to take advantage of its free design service available through each store.

“This catalog is a major strategy for us in 2013 to begin aggressively growing not only our online retail efforts, but also our in-store sales,” Howard said. “We spent many months planning and determining how best to showcase our products in the catalog so that customers can really see how our furniture fits into their daily lives. We have an aggressive growth plan for the next three years – 10+ locations starting with our premier Dallas location opening in February 2013. This catalog will play a major role in that growth.”

Focus on the customer continues with several other recent implementations. I.O. Metro has undergone a major logistics restructure. Transporting deliveries directly from the warehouse to the customer — versus warehouse to store to customer — allows for speedier deliveries and fewer chances for damages to occur.

The company also now delivers nationwide, and has started an in-house customer service department (previously handled by each store) that allows for speedier resolution of issues and better communication.

“In staying true to our roots, I.O. Metro continues to believe that good design should be accessible to all,” Howard said. “In a way, this catalog is merely an extension of that service. It’s my hope that the pages inspire customers to generate ideas that can be incorporated into their own space. And should they desire help assembling any of the looks, they may simply call on their local I.O.Metro store.”

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