RR Donnelley isn’t a name you see very often in TechCrunch, but companies don’t survive for nearly 150 years without having one eye trained on the future. With 2011 revenues at an estimated $10.6 billion, the company is one of the world’s largest commercial printers. The printing giant has been stepping up its digital investments of late, and today announced that it has invested $2.5 million in Real Value Corporation, the makers of iPad shopping app, CoffeeTable.
The Series A investment is the first tranche of a larger investment by RR Donnelley and includes an exclusive marketing relationship between the two companies. CoffeeTable will be using the infusion of institutional capital to launch new personalization and engagement features and hire developers.
For those unfamiliar, CoffeeTable is a free shopping app for the iPad that aggregates hundreds of retail catalogs to allow users to browse their products on the go, online or offline. CoffeeTable gives shoppers the ability to make purchases from their iPad through secure in-app checkout, while in turn giving retailers a suite of benchmark data and catalog analytics tools that they can use to boost their multi-channel marketing efforts.
As RR Donnelley is one of the largest printers of retail catalogs in the world, it can now leverage its existing relationship with retailers to help bring CoffeeTable access to a wide range of content from the companies whose products it aggregates, while, in turn, giving those major retailers an additional point of access into the tablet market.
CoffeeTable’s app allows users to browse full-screen images of products, with zoom functionality, adding products to a shopping cart, both online and offline. Users can subscribe to their favorite brands and have the latest catalogs delivered to their iPad from retailers that include Crate & Barrel, Lands’ End, West Elm, etc. Beyond offering quick checkout across all catalogs through its “Express Checkout,” CoffeeTable also offers giveaways, seasonal pop-up shops, and flash deals which are applied at check out.
Catalogs are collectively a $270 billion industry, and while individual retailers may offer their own tablet shopping apps, CoffeeTable brings them all together in one place, presumably offering a better shopping experience for the end user. Together, the two companies seem to be looking to establish an Amazon for retail catalogs, and with further development of analytics tools, retailers will be able to get a better sense of the mobile purchasing behavior of consumers — something many of them are lacking.
For more on CoffeeTable, check the app out at home here.