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May 30, 2024 | 14 minute read

Catalog Management Tips for eCommerce Success

written by Seamus Roddy

Maybe you’ve had one of these experiences while shopping online…

  • You’re buying a specific piece of clothing, click onto a “shop the look” page, and are immediately overwhelmed by endless size and color options for additional products
  • You’re buying a product, like a bicycle, that could in theory come with a helmet, lights, and other add-ons. You realize you need accessories, but none of them are offered as a bundle with the bicycle at the point of sale.
  • You’re interested in a product, and close to buying, but you can’t find vital sizing information in the product description. You decide to check out a competitors’ site instead.
  • You’re shopping on a laptop and on your phone – and you’re getting different price quotes and even availability estimates for the same product depending on what channel you use.

These frustratingly common shopping experiences are often linked to sub-par catalog management. Catalog management is the process of organizing, managing, and maintaining product information. Learn how effective catalog management done well can help your brand, get product catalog management tips, and see how Elastic Path helps brands overcome common eCommerce catalog management challenges.

What is Catalog Management?

In eCommerce, catalog management refers to the strategic process of organizing, managing, and maintaining product information. This involves ensuring that product data is accurate, up-to-date, and presented in a way that enhances the customer experience. In essence, eCommerce catalog management is about making sure that the products on your site appear where they should and with the correct information.

Key Components of Catalog Management

Sometimes, good catalog management is easier said than done. After all, managing catalogs for different audiences, with different product variations, and incorporating variable pricing introduces complexity for brands. To overcome the challenges of eCommerce catalog management, brands regularly break general catalog catalog management into different components, including:

  1. Product information management (PIM): Having a strong commerce PIM allows you to import, enrich, and manage product data in one central place so that you can power consistent product experience across touchpoints, channels and routes-to-market. Your PIM incorporates product descriptions, product attributes (like size, color, and weight), and even images and videos of your products
  2. Categorization and taxonomy: Especially for brands with extensive catalogs, it is essential to organize products into logical categories and subcategories. Taxonomy is a term used to describe the structure of an eCommerce catalog. For example, a clothes company might have men’s tops as a product category, t-shirts and dress shirts as sub-categories, specific shirts as products, and colors and fabrics as product attributes.
  3. Pricing and inventory management: Keeping prices updated is part of catalog management. Pricing fits into inventory management – the process by which brands ensure that they can fulfill orders and manage stock. Accurate pricing also ensures that brands maximize profit margins.

Benefits of Strong eCommerce Product Catalog Management

Effective catalog management is vital for facilitating fast and simple product discovery, comparison, and purchase decisions for customers. Done well, catalog management comes with a host of conversion and revenue-boosting benefits, including:

  1. Improved customer experience: It’s this simple: Customers care about being served with clear, accurate, and detailed product information. In fact, according to a Google Retail Study, 85% of online shoppers say that product information and pictures are important or very important when they decide which brand or retailer to buy from. If you don’t provide strong product information but your competitors do, you’re essentially conceding business.
  2. Enhanced SEO performance: Good catalog management doesn’t just improve the catalog experience for buyers who make it to your online store and your product pages. It also improves the performance of your online store and individual product pages in search engine results. This attracts new customers who likely have high buyer intent.
  3. Higher conversion rates (and more revenue): Correct, comprehensive product information boosts conversion rates. Consumers want to know what they’re buying, and uncertainty about a product’s specifications is a common reason that buyers abandon carts or decide on other products. With a documented online shopping cart abandonment rate of more than 70%, brands have to offer a strong buying experience to avoid losing sales. In this way, catalog management compounds: More site visitors turn into product browsers, more product browsers put an item in their cart, and more consumers with a product in their cart convert to buyers.
  4. Increased operational efficiency: Catalog management is a gift that keeps on giving. Over time, your team spends less time updating and fixing product listings and catalog bugs, because they don’t exist. Over time, this means less time and money spent on IT workarounds or custom catalog work, and more time spent pursuing merchandising tactics, like dynamic bundling or dynamic pricing, that boost conversions and revenue.

9 eCommerce Catalog Management Tips

Unlocking the benefits of strong catalog management means taking specific actions that improve your catalog, your customer experiences, and your business at large. Consider these 9 foundational catalog management tips.

  1. Maintain a clean, accurate product database
  2. Centralize product information with a commerce PIM
  3. Have an organized, tagged product catalog
  4. Optimize product descriptions, product overviews, and product pages
  5. Use high-quality images and videos
  6. Personalize with member catalogs
  7. Practice upselling, cross-selling, and product bundling
  8. Monitor catalog performance
  9. Act upon customer feedback

1. Maintain a clean, accurate product database

Maintaining a clean database is a fundamental aspect of effective catalog management. Regularly auditing and cleansing your product database ensures that all information is accurate, up-to-date, and free of duplicates or errors. This involves removing obsolete products, correcting inconsistencies, and standardizing data formats.

A clean database makes it easier to manage inventory, update product information, and integrate with other systems such as CRM and ERP. It also improves the customer experience by ensuring they have access to accurate and reliable product information, reducing the likelihood of confusion or frustration, ultimately driving higher customer satisfaction and more sales.

2. Centralize product information with a commerce PIM

Centralizing product information with a commerce Product Information Management (PIM) system streamlines the management of all product data in one place. This ensures that all teams, from marketing to sales, have access to consistent and accurate product information, reducing the risk of errors and discrepancies. A centralized PIM system enhances operational efficiency by simplifying data updates and synchronization across multiple sales channels. Additionally, it improves the customer experience by ensuring that product information is always up-to-date and reliable, leading to increased trust and higher conversion rates.

Elastic Path Product Experience Manager features a commerce PIM in which you can import, enrich, and manage product data in a central place. Our commerce PIM enables merchandising including assigning one product multiple prices without a custom, expensive build.

Ready to bring your best merchandising ideas to life?

Elastic Path Product Experience Manager helps you merchandise every unique product experience, without custom dev work.

3. Have an organized, tagged product catalog

An organized, tagged product catalog improves both your business’s internal management and your customers’ shopping experience. By categorizing products logically and using tags to highlight key attributes (such as size, color, and material), you make it easier for customers to find their desired product. This structure not only improves search functionality and navigation on your commerce platform, but also enables more effective product filtering and recommendations. Additionally, an organized, tagged product catalog streamlines inventory management and data analysis, helping you make informed business decisions based on product performance and customer preferences.

4. Optimize product descriptions, product overviews, and product pages

Optimizing product descriptions, overviews, and product pages is crucial for catalog management that actually fuels customer interest. Detailed, engaging product descriptions highlight key features and benefits, helping customers understand the value of the product. Well-crafted product overviews provide a concise, accurate summary of products, making it easy for customers to quickly grasp the essentials. Optimized product pages, complete with high-quality images, customer reviews, and clear calls-to-action, enhance the overall shopping experience, reduce bounce rates, and drive higher conversion rates. Internally, strong, accurate descriptions, overviews, and pages makes it easier to merchandise your catalog.

5. Use high-quality images and videos

High-quality images and videos are essential for showcasing products effectively and enhancing the customer shopping experience. Clear, detailed images from multiple angles help customers get a comprehensive view of the product, reducing uncertainty and increasing trust. Videos can demonstrate the product in use, highlighting features and benefits in a dynamic way that images alone cannot achieve. By investing in high-quality visuals, you can bring the products in your catalog life, significantly boost engagement, reduce return rates, and ultimately boost conversions and revenue.

Personalize with member catalogs

Member catalogs personalize the shopping experience by tailoring product selections and recommendations to individual customers. By leveraging customer data, such as past purchases and browsing behavior, these catalogs present customers relevant products that match their exact needs. This personalized approach enhances customer engagement, increases satisfaction, and drives loyalty. Ultimately, loyalty catalogs can lead to higher conversion rates and more repeat business.

7. Practice upselling, cross-selling, and product bundling

Effective catalog management means having the ability to sell products in different configurations to increase AOV and profit margins. Three methods to do so are upselling, cross-selling, and product bundling:

  • Upselling: In catalog management, upselling involves organizing your catalog to highlight premium versions of products. By clearly displaying enhanced features and benefits, you can guide customers toward higher-end options. This requires well-structured product descriptions and comparisons that make it easy for customers to understand the value of upgrading.
  • Cross-selling: Effective catalog management should include cross-selling strategies by associating complementary products. This can be achieved by tagging related items and using algorithms to suggest these products on product pages and during checkout. Properly managed catalogs ensure that these suggestions are relevant and add value to the customer’s purchase (and, ultimately, your organization’s bottom-line).
  • Product bundling: Catalog management should facilitate easy creation and management of product bundles. This involves grouping related items into packages that offer discounts or added value. By presenting these bundles clearly in your catalog, you can enhance the perceived value and convenience for customers, encouraging larger purchases.

8. Monitor catalog performance

Monitoring catalog performance is a critical aspect of effective catalog management. By tracking key metrics such as product views, sales conversions, and customer feedback, you can gain valuable insights into how well your product catalog is performing. This data allows you to identify top-performing products, understand customer preferences, and spot any issues with product listings or inventory.

Regularly analyzing catalog performance helps in making informed decisions about which products to promote, update, or discontinue. It also enables you to optimize product descriptions, images, and prices based on real-time data, ensuring that your catalog remains relevant and competitive. By continuously monitoring and refining your catalog, you can enhance the customer experience and drive sales.

9. Act upon customer feedback

Acting on customer feedback is essential for maintaining a high-quality product catalog and improving customer satisfaction. By systematically collecting and analyzing feedback from reviews, ratings, and customer service interactions, you can identify common issues and areas for improvement.

Implementing changes based on customer feedback can involve updating product descriptions to address common questions or concerns, improving product images to better represent the items, and refining product categories to enhance navigation. Additionally, addressing negative feedback promptly can help mitigate potential issues and show customers that their opinions are valued.

Common Catalog Management Challenges – and How to Overcome Them With Elastic Path

Even brands dedicated to following catalog management best practices experience catalog management challenges. Elastic Path Product Experience Manager, our commerce PIM, product merchandising, and catalog management solution, empowers merchandisers, increases speed-to-market, and eliminates custom dev work. See how Product Experience Manager vanquishes three common catalog management headaches.

1. Redundant tasks and management

For decades, merchandisers have lived with the reality that they need to manage different catalogs for different audiences. A B2B audience would need a dedicated B2B catalog. A brand doing business in the U.S., U.K., and Canada would need to manage separate catalogs for each locale and currency. Offering a loyalty program meant managing a catalog specifically for members.

With different catalogs, every catalog management and merchandising action needs to be replicated manually across each catalog. Over time, this extra work manifests in new catalog rules, manual work, more time necessary to bring experiences to life, and a higher chance of inconsistencies and mistakes across customer experiences.

Product Experience Manager has revolutionized catalog management by decoupling catalogs from pricing. Instead of managing different catalogs, brands using Elastic Path can maintain a single catalog and access a unified price book in which they can set individual prices and parameters for each specific audience with the same hierarchies of products. The result is slashing the time spent merchandising for specific audiences, eliminating custom workarounds, and bringing new experiences – like subscriptions – to life faster.

2. Scaling to multiple catalogs as a business grows

The challenge of redundant tasks and catalog management extends to being hamstrung when it’s time to scale to multiple brands, geographies, or other audiences. What happens for growing brands is that bringing merchandising experiences to life across different catalogs takes hours or days. Eventually, commerce innovation and exciting new initiatives are put on hold because they’ll take too much time and backend work to support across multiple business lines.

Product Experience Manager supports unlimited, rule-based catalogs. Rules can be set across catalogs in minutes, tailored to channel, customer group, email addresses, location, and other complex use cases. Brands don’t have to pay for extra development work, messy customizations, or additional instances just to support a multi-catalog strategy.

3. Feeling pressured to pursue a full replatform

There’s a longstanding – and incorrect – belief that if you want to change your commerce product catalog, you’re agreeing to a full-on replatform. That’s because traditional catalogs are tightly intertwined with the commerce platform that powers them – making promotions, cart, PIM, ERP systems, order management, and more dependent on your catalog.

Product Experience Manager’s modular, decoupled architecture means that brands can work with existing commerce platforms and unleash creative catalog configurations without custom code. And in line with Elastic Path’s commitment to the Unplatform™, modular catalog management can start with a specific brand or business line or geography. Over time, as this catalog gets results, it can expand into more and more of your organization – but only at your pace, and never with the disruption or rip-and-replace required of a conventional replatform.

Learn more about how your brand can supercharge your catalog management capabilities without replatforming with Elastic Path.

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