For ecommerce businesses, the most important website feature is the ability to find and purchase products online. A stylish and persuasive website is only useful if your customers can easily find products that meet their needs.
Most ecommerce sites contain product listings that educate customers about product details such as features and reviews, and communicate key information like availability and price. Ecommerce catalog management can help you organize this type of product information, making it easier to ensure the accuracy and consistency of online product listings as your business grows.
What is ecommerce catalog management?
Ecommerce product catalog management is the process of storing and organizing all of an ecommerce business’s product data. It involves entering information like product pricing, descriptions, and specifications into a digital catalog management system. This can help ecommerce business owners manage inventory and ensure the information in a store’s online catalogis consistent and accurate.
Benefits of ecommerce catalog management
Ecommerce catalog management can help you increase efficiency and boost online sales. Here’s an overview of additional benefits:
Improved product discovery process
Effective catalog management helps you ensure that product catalogs are organized and consistently structured, making it easier for customers to navigate your ecommerce website and find items. It can also boost average order value by encouraging shoppers to browse additional products that might meet their needs.
Improved search engine optimization (SEO)
You can leverage product catalogs to increase your ecommerce store’s visibility to search engines and help you reach more potential customers. Optimizing metadata for product titles, descriptions, and categories in the HTML code can help search engines understand the purpose of product pages and improve your page SEO ranking for relevant online searches. It can also improve marketplace search performance, which refers to a product’s visibility and ranking for searches in online marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon.
Better customer experience
Catalog management helps business owners make sure product information is accurate and up-to-date by establishing a central source of truth. This can improve customer satisfaction and reduce return rates, as the product information precisely describes the actual item. It also helps you provide a unified customer experience by increasing consistency in product descriptions across sales channels. It also makes it easier for customers to navigate your online store,which can improve the online shopping customer experience and boost customer loyalty.
Challenges of ecommerce catalog management
Ecommerce product catalogs often contain a lot of information, which can complicate the catalog management process. Here’s an overview of common challenges:
Changing product offerings
Ecommerce businesses regularly launch new products and change or discontinue current offerings. Product catalogs must be updated regularly to avoid mistakes that can lead to inaccurate product listings, miscategorized items, and, ultimately, a decline in customer satisfaction.
Organizing a large product catalog can be challenging—especially if you sell across a wide variety of categories. Inconsistent product grouping, missing or incorrect stock keeping units (SKUs), item miscategorization, or complex navigational structure can confuse customers and reduce sales.
Managing multiple sales channels
Many ecommerce businesses sell through multiple online sales channels, including online marketplaces, social selling platforms, and ecommerce websites. The requirements for how to input and display information on each channel can vary, making it challenging to provide a consistent and accurate user experience.Incorrect, inconsistent, or missing information can make it difficult for customers to find the correct products and increase churn rates.
Tips for ecommerce catalog management
- Maintain a single source of truth
- Be consistent
- Audit your catalogs
- Create a product tagging system
- Standardize categories
- Optimize product descriptions
- Use a software tool
Better catalog management can reduce your workload, minimize errors, and help you increase profits. Here are seven tips to improve catalog management for online stores:
Maintain a single source of truth
Many ecommerce businesses sell through multiple channels and experiment with different product catalog management systems. You may have information stored in spreadsheets, marketplace databases, and on your ecommerce platform. This can cause issues with data accuracy. If you identify a discrepancy between catalogs, for example, you may not know which information to trust.
You can avoid this by maintaining a single source of truth for all of your products. Make sure your catalog contains every product you sell and all product attributes, specifications, and description formats required by the various sales channels.
Deciding upfront what product details belong in a standard listing and using consistent categories, measurement units, and naming conventions can reduce errors and improve efficiency. For example, determining in advance whether you refer to a particular shade as “brick red” or “burgundy” can expedite the process of adding more items in that color to your catalog. It also improves categorization and makes it easier for you to navigate your product database.
Audit your catalogs
Conducting an ecommerce catalog audit involves reviewing product information and inventory numbers across channels to verify accuracy and consistency. For instance, you might compare projected forecasts to actual inventory using a semi-annual manual inventory count. Alternatively, you may cross-reference ecommerce catalog figures with existing data in your inventory management system. This helps ensure the accuracy of your information so you track inventory and prevent inaccuracies before they impact sales.
Create a product tagging system
Identifying products by name might be an effective strategy if you sell only a handful of items, but a product tagging system is critical for organizing larger catalogs. Many ecommerce businesses use a stock keeping unit (SKU). An SKU is an eight- to 12-digit number that encodes information about the department or category, supplier, and features like color, brand, and size.
Online business owners have multiple options for product categorization. You might categorize items by use, size, color, price, season, or any number of other attributes. A blue rain jacket could belong to the category “blue,” “outerwear,” or “hiking”—or show up in all three.
What matters is that you choose product categories that make sense for your business, apply them consistently, and list all applicable items under each. Also, avoiding redundant category names can help you and your customers better navigate listings: Categorizing half of your rain jackets under “rainwear” and the other half under “waterproof,” for example, could create confusion for your shoppers.
Optimize product descriptions
Detailed product descriptions can help customers determine whether or not a product meets their needs. They can also help search engines understand the contents of a product page and discover the right items at the right time.
Writing product descriptions can be challenging. The most effective ones include high-quality product images and highlight key features such as what problem a product solves, who it serves, and what makes it better than the competition. You can also include relevant keywords in product descriptions and metadata to improve search engine performance.
Use a software tool
Ecommerce catalog management software can help you organize and sort product catalog data and automate time-consuming tasks like adjusting product prices or updating inventory counts. Catalog management tools can include the following features:
Product information management (PIM)
Storing and organizing product information is a critical catalog management task. PIM systems provide the centralized source of truth for your ecommerce catalog and can distribute information across multiple online sales channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and Shop.
Some tools, such as Lightspeed and the Shopify platform, can also manage inventory data. Real time data management can help you avoid overselling and risking a stockout, and ensure accurate record-keeping across sales channels.
Digital asset management
Tools with digital asset management capabilities can store product images and other digital assets, such as logos, videos, or templates.
Data standardization and data quality checks are best practices in ecommerce catalog management. These data management services can automate processes like reviewing product information and formatting product titles and details according to your ecommerce catalog norms.
Personalization and customization
Personalization and customization functions allow businesses to provide different information to various customer segments. Custom catalogs might display personalized pricing, descriptions, or images for different customer groups.
Many tools can also integrate with external inventory management systems, marketplaces, and ecommerce platforms. Choosing a tool that integrates with your online store seamlessly can help simplify your catalog management process.
Ecommerce catalog management FAQ
What is the difference between a catalog and a website?
An ecommerce catalog is a document or database that contains information about all of a business’s products, while an ecommerce website is a collection of webpages attached to a specific domain name. Ecommerce businesses typically publish product pages on their websites to allow customers to browse products online and select items for purchase.
How do you make an ecommerce catalog?
What is an ecommerce catalog?
An ecommerce catalog is a database of an ecommerce business’s products, as well as product details like pricing, colors, SKU or product tag, specifications, and description.