Your product catalog is the backbone of your eCommerce website, and managing it efficiently can make all the difference in driving sales and increasing customer satisfaction.
However, managing a large number of products can be a daunting task, and without the right approach, it can quickly become overwhelming.
That’s why in this blog post, we’ll be sharing nine product catalog management tips and best practices that every eCommerce store should follow.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an established online retailer, these tips will help you streamline your product management process and improve the overall shopping experience for your customers.
So, let’s dive in and explore the best practices for managing your product catalog.
Why your product catalog matters
I once consulted with an eCommerce brand in a very specialized niche.
They had an awesome following, great sales, and decent organic search rankings on Google. Their website wasn’t bad either, with the exception of one thing – their product pages.
Their product catalog was riddled with outdated information, inconsistent formatting, and a cluttered layout.
Some products were photographed on a white background, others were photographed on a decorative background. Others weren’t photos at all, but mere digital mockups!
The net result was a very amateurish-looking product page that immediately – albeit subconsciously – made the site look untrustworthy.
In the world of eCommerce, having an effective product catalog management strategy is crucial to the success of your online store.
What is product catalog management?
Product catalog management refers to the process of systematically organizing, maintaining, and updating a comprehensive list of products offered by an online retailer or eCommerce store.
This involves creating detailed product descriptions, categorizing items, managing product images, setting accurate pricing, and tracking inventory levels.
Effective product catalog management ensures that customers can easily find relevant product information – leading to a seamless shopping experience, higher customer satisfaction, and ultimately increased sales.
Proper catalog management is essential to keeping an eCommerce store up-to-date, well-organized, and competitive in the market.
Another important function of product catalog management is to ensure you use accurate product information.
Over time, your images will become outdated, and you may also end up with old product information.
The good news is that actively managing your product catalog makes it much easier to ensure that you’ve got high product data quality across all your channels.
Benefits of effective catalog management for businesses
Let’s take a closer look at some of the specific advantages of effective catalog management.
Each of the following benefits can significantly impact the number of products you sell.
Provides more efficient product updates
Using a well-structured product catalog makes it much easier to update your product information as required.
This may involve pricing, product availability, product descriptions, and more. Employing this approach can enhance customer satisfaction and minimize any potential confusion among customers.
Improves the visibility and searchability of each product
Your product catalog is the key if you want your customers to effortlessly search for and locate the items they need.
Any effort invested in developing your product catalog will be rewarded by customers finding the exact product they need fast.
As you improve product visibility, you’ll see higher sales.
Makes product comparisons easier
When a customer is interested in buying a product, they often spend time reading reviews and comparing similar items.
In 2021, nearly 70% of all customers read at least one review – and up to six reviews – before making a purchase. By offering detailed product descriptions, you simplify this process.
As a result, your customers can make better-informed purchasing decisions, often leading to a boost in sales.
Simplifies product categorization
A product catalog organizes your products into specific categories.
For example, a clothing store will group all its women’s clothing products together, while men’s clothing products will be in a separate category.
By doing this, you make it much simpler for your customers to search or browse through the relevant product offerings.
And, once again, this can increase sales across your sales channels.
Enjoy smoother product launches
Every time you introduce a new product, your existing catalog will enable your customers to find it easily.
This should make your product launch more efficient and seamless. For the sake of visibility, a well-maintained product catalog is essential.
Good and bad examples of product catalog management
To further drive the point home, let’s examine two hypothetical businesses, one demonstrating excellent product catalog management and the other showcasing poor practices.
Understanding these examples can help illuminate the potential business impact – both positive and negative – of your product catalog management.
Good example: StellarShoes Online Store
StellarShoes, an online footwear retailer, exemplifies excellent product catalog management. They have a well-organized and user-friendly website, with their products categorized by type, gender, size, and brand.
Each product listing features high-quality images from multiple angles, along with detailed and accurate descriptions, pricing, available sizes, and stock availability.
The search function on their website helps customers quickly find specific products using filters for various attributes, such as color, price range, and material.
StellarShoes regularly updates its catalog, ensuring they accurately reflect any changes in product availability, pricing, or new product launches.
This efficient and comprehensive product catalog management results in a seamless shopping experience, which naturally increases customer satisfaction and sales.
Bad example: TechGadgets Warehouse
On the other hand, TechGadgets Warehouse, an online electronics store, struggles with poor product catalog management.
Their website lacks a clear categorization system, making it difficult for customers to find products based on specific criteria.
Product listings often feature low-quality (or inconsistent) images, vague descriptions, and outdated pricing information.
The search functionality on their website is limited and often yields irrelevant results, frustrating customers who are looking for specific items.
TechGadgets Warehouse rarely updates its catalog data, leading to discrepancies in stock availability and product information.
This poor product catalog management hinders the shopping experience, causing customers to look elsewhere.
Tips & best practices
We’ve already established the importance of using a product catalog, but now it’s time to look into some of the best tips and practices to make your catalog even more successful.
Adhering to the following list can give you an advantage over your competitors.
Establish a product information system that is easy to use
You’ll want to make sure that the system you’re setting up is going to be easy to use. This applies to customers and yourself.
Be sure to use tags or keywords that make it simpler for customers to search through your catalog and find exactly what they need.
The last thing you want to do is get too cute with your data. Keep your product information system simple and ensure that it works well by running several different tests on it.
Ensure product data accuracy and consistency across all channels
This one is super critical. After all, if you don’t have consistency and accuracy across every channel, you run the risk of looking like you don’t really know what you’re selling.
A lack of consistency can turn off your potential customers before they even make their first purchase.
Additionally, you don’t want to end up with dissatisfied customers because an outdated description made them think they were getting something different than what they ordered.
Use product categorization to streamline product navigation
Make sure you take full advantage of your product catalog to help streamline product navigation.
Let’s say that you run an online bookstore. A customer visits your store and types in one keyword: horror.
Do you have it set up so that they’ll be able to browse through every horror book in your shop? If you don’t, you’re leaving money on the table.
It is okay to tag a book in several different collections as well, so don’t let that stop you from having an easily searchable database.
For example, some of Stephen King’s books fit well into the fantasy category, but you’ll still want to tag them as horror, too.
That way, whichever keyword someone uses, they’ll be able to find what they’re looking for.
Use product images and videos for product descriptions
The reality of selling online is that some people want to read a product description, while others are more motivated by seeing images and videos of the product. Therefore, you’ll want to provide both options.
In the bookstore example listed above, you could post a video that shows the cover of the book, along with flipping through some of the pages.
You could even get some authors to record themselves discussing the book or doing a brief reading.
Either way, though, use product images, videos, and a written description to capture the largest audience.
Use product attributes for product search and filtering
Now, let’s say that someone is looking for horror books but they don’t want to see any that also include fantasy.
By using these product attributes, you could set up your product catalog so that your customers can choose to opt out of seeing books that are horror-fantasy by selecting horror only.
Alternatively, you could set it up so that a customer can check that they don’t want fantasy elements in their book, which would omit all books that have the fantasy tag.
Regardless of what way you set it up, the important thing is to give your customers even more control over their searches.
That way, if they’re not sure what exact book they want, they won’t have to waste time looking at some choices that they definitely don’t want. Again, test this feature extensively before you launch it.
Monitor your product data’s quality on a regular basis
Over time, certain things that are listed in a product’s description may become outdated. For example, when a book has been made into a movie, you’re going to need to update your listing to include that information.
You’ll also want to switch out the cover picture if they’re now using a cover that depicts a scene from the movie.
Failure to do these things will make your product look less relevant – despite the fact that you’re selling the same book.
Streamline your product listing across all channels
Some online stores choose to use different product descriptions for each channel, but this would be a mistake.
Instead, you want to ensure that you’re using the same product listing details for each channel.
First off, this will make your description appear accurate and consistent to consumers.
Doing it this way will also make it so much easier to update your product’s details as necessary.
Monitor product reviews and ratings to optimize product details
Do you have a book for sale that’s received 1,000 five-star ratings? Or perhaps you can see from the reviews that a book is controversial?
Use this information to help further flesh out details about your products.
You could actually make a three-star book look more appealing by pointing out that it’s your most controversial book, for instance.
Inevitably, people will feel drawn to the book because they want to know whether they’ll love it or hate it. Either way, you’ll sell more copies!
Integrate product catalog management software with back-end systems
To enhance your product catalog management and the overall efficiency of your eCommerce operations, it’s essential to integrate product catalog management software with your back-end systems.
This integration allows for seamless data exchange between different components of your business, such as inventory management, order processing, and customer relationship management (CRM).
As a result, businesses can maintain accurate and up-to-date product information, streamline workflows, and provide a better shopping experience for customers.
SkuVault is an example of a product catalog management software that can be integrated with your back-end systems.
It helps businesses manage and organize their product catalog by centralizing product information, tracking inventory levels, and synchronizing data across multiple sales channels and eCommerce platforms.
SkuVault’s integration capabilities enable seamless communication between your inventory management, order processing, and other essential back-end systems.
By integrating SkuVault with your back-end systems, you can:
- Ensure consistency and accuracy of product information across all platforms, reducing the risk of errors and discrepancies.
- Automate inventory updates and keep your product catalog and inventory in sync – preventing stock-outs and overselling.
- Improve order processing efficiency by automatically updating inventory levels and order statuses.
- Streamline product catalog management by consolidating product data and centralizing management tasks in one platform.
- Enhance the customer shopping experience by providing accurate and up-to-date product information, leading to higher customer satisfaction and sales.
Integrating product catalog management software like SkuVault with your back-end systems can be a game-changer for your eCommerce business.
This integration enables an organized and accurate product catalog, streamlines your operations, and creates a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience for your customers.
FAQs about product catalog management
What is product catalog management?
Product catalog management is the process of managing product information, such as product descriptions, pricing, and images, in an organized fashion.
It helps eCommerce businesses keep data about their products current and ensures accuracy across all sales channels.
How does product catalog management benefit eCommerce businesses?
Product catalog management helps eCommerce businesses streamline product data and improve product visibility, which in turn can boost sales.
It also provides centralization of this data, enabling better product comparison and providing customers with more product information for making informed purchase decisions.
What are the challenges of eCommerce product catalog management?
The biggest challenge to managing your product catalog is keeping product data up to date across multiple sales channels.
It can be time-consuming and tedious for eCommerce businesses to manually update product information on different platforms, so it’s important that they have a system in place to automate this process.
Additionally, product catalogs need to be regularly maintained and updated with accurate product information to ensure customers have the most current product attributes.
What is a PIM system?
PIM here means Product Information Management. A PIM system integrates with other inventory management solutions, streamlining the data and information about products in one place.
This makes it easier than ever before to keep your products’ details accurate and updated. With a PIM system, you’ll save time while also increasing customer satisfaction by providing them with the most up-to-date product information available.
How can product catalogs be improved?
Product catalogs can be improved by making sure that data about products is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date with new products across channels.
Additionally, product catalogs should include images, videos, and other visuals to help customers get a better idea of products.
Your catalog management tool should also easily manage all the data about your products from multiple sales channels in one centralized place, allowing you to export it for additional usability.
Finally, by optimizing product search, you’ll make it easier for customers to find the product they’re looking for.
eCommerce catalog management – The takeaways
We get it – running an eCommerce business isn’t easy. And yes, we have just given you another “essential” thing to do if you want to get a bigger piece of that online shopping pie.
But it’s just the reality – success in eCommerce means taking the time to develop a robust and organized online catalog.
You’re leaving money behind on almost every single sale if you don’t have a product catalog set up yet.
All the bigger sites use this process to make their products more visible. For example, Amazon almost always suggests a different book or two that similar readers have also purchased.
This shows you the upsell value of product catalog management, and it’s surprising how often it works.
Have you ever shopped at an online store that didn’t have product catalog management? Browsing through their catalog isn’t easy, and it was likely frustrating.
Do you remember how that made you feel about using that particular shop again?
The odds are high that you didn’t visit again unless they were the only site that sold something you really wanted.
Now, on the other hand, how do you feel when you shop on a site that’s properly organized? It’s a breeze to browse through their offerings, and you probably found what you wanted super quickly.
Although it will take time to set up and manage, using a product catalog is the best way to improve customer satisfaction and boost your sales.
SkuVault – The best catalog management tool
Choosing the wrong catalog management tool for your eCommerce business can have cascading effects.
SkuVault, a leader in eCommerce Inventory Management Solutions, can help you make the right choice.
SkuVault’s solutions integrate with the most popular shopping carts and marketplaces, making data management for products easier, faster, and more accurate.
For instance, our Catalog Features make creating and organizing your products simple.
With SkuVault, you control how much or how little information you need to include, and we do the hard work of keeping it organized for you all in one place.
You can also schedule a demo to see how we can help your site sell more, grow faster, and delight your customers.