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How do you ensure your products are accessible online, trusted by your web store visitors, and convert well? Often this comes down to effective e-commerce product catalog management.
So, what are the benefits of good e-commerce catalog management? What are the challenges to managing your product catalog online? And what are catalog management best practices in e-commerce? In this blog post, we share everything you need to know about e-commerce product catalog management and 8 practical tips you can follow.
Nowadays, both B2C and B2B customers are well accustomed to searching for product information and shopping online. Therefore, your business needs to have a well-managed online product catalog to meet these customer behaviors, ensure your products are found and accessible online, and stay competitive. A clear and detailed e-commerce catalog will also help you be seen as a leader in your industry and build trust between you and your web store visitors.
In general, businesses face 4 main challenges when managing their product catalog online:
To help you overcome these challenges, we’ve put together the following 8 best practices on how to manage your e-commerce product catalog:
When managing your digital product catalog, your first goal should be to ensure your (potential) customers are comfortable with shopping on your e-commerce site. You want your web store visitors to trust your business, so that they are more likely to place an order with you.
In order to reach this goal, it is crucial that you provide comprehensive and accurate information in your product catalog. Your potential customers can only start trusting your business when the information they use to assess your brand and products is complete and accurate.
You can start with the below 3 aspects to achieve good quality product content:
Help your customers easily browse through your digital product catalog by offering them the option to filter, refine, and sort your web store product information. You can do this by systematically tagging and categorizing all your products.
But be sure to do this from your customers’ perspective. That is, think about how they look for information and how they want to search your website. For example, if you know that your customers often search for product information based on material, make sure you do not limit attributing your products to size and color only.
In addition to this, we have the following tips for categorizing your e-commerce catalog products:
As mentioned earlier, the involvement of multiple stakeholders makes e-commerce catalog management a complex process. One way to overcome this challenge is to first map out your catalog management process. Then, you can pinpoint where your internal and external stakeholders are located along this process.
This mapping process can provide you with a clear understanding of:
When your e-commerce product catalog needs to be updated, the mapping process allows you to quickly find the exact stakeholder(s) to approach.
For instance, let’s say you’re a wholesaler who wants to add a couple of products to your e-commerce catalog. A clear map of your catalog management process would help you understand what steps you need to take and in which order. You’ll then know you need to first collect the new product information from the suppliers, check if your courier is able to pack the new products using current resources, commission a product photo shoot with your agency, ask your internal content team to create the product description, speak to your logistics department to get the new stocking keeping units (SKU) documentation, etc.
Suggesting related products in your e-commerce catalog is an easy way to increase your average order value.
Think about your own experiences shopping online. If you’re browsing for a new camera, most web stores will also suggest the best battery, memory card and case to go with it. How many times have you added those additional items to your cart? Usually, you do — because you actually really need them, and it’s super helpful not to have to go searching for them.
You can also suggest alternative products to tempt your buyer into purchasing an even better quality camera, or to encourage them to keep browsing in case they have not yet found the exact product they are looking for.
Since e-commerce catalog management is a type of information management, maintaining a database is an unavoidable part of optimizing the catalog. The below suggestions can help you keep a clean product catalog database:
There are many tools in the market that can help you manage your e-commerce product catalog. Depending on your business needs, your e-commerce product catalog can be managed through:
When choosing a product catalog management tool, you should consider your existing tech stack, business size, the complexity of your product catalog, the availability of your labor resources, and whether you have plans to expand to multiple web stores in the future.
No matter which solution you choose, as mentioned above, try to keep a single source of truth to avoid duplicating product data and risk making mistakes. For example, if you are already using an ERP or PIM system to manage your product catalog, you want to avoid replicating the existing data into a separate e-commerce platform. This can be done with ERP-integrated e-commerce.
Learn more about the benefits of combining your ERP and e-commerce solutions with a PIM system.
If you run a B2B business, you’ll likely have to deal with an extra level of complexity: your product pricing can differ per customer or per ordering situation. That is why catalog personalization can be an important thing to consider for your B2B web store. Pay close attention therefore to whether your web store can control the price displayed.
In addition, if you choose to serve different contents to different customer segments, check whether your e-commerce solution supports tailor-made catalogs. With a tailored catalog option, the content served to your customers will be more relevant to them.
If you are using an offline product catalog in addition to your online catalog, you should think about how to make the two catalogs complement each other. For instance, your offline catalog can serve as an easy-to-read product overview for a broad understanding and quick decisions; while the online catalog can serve as an extensive and up-to-date product information hub for product deep-dives and comparisons.
Are you excited to optimize your e-commerce product catalog using our tips? Lots of businesses (maybe even your direct competitors) are already doing it and getting great results. Get ahead of the competition with even more insights and tips on the topic: check out our white paper about managing your B2B e-commerce catalog, and our blog posts on how implementing a PIM system can enrich your ERP and your web store and how to improve your e-commerce website design.
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