A Definitive Guide to eCommerce Catalog Management

eCommerce is on an all-time rise and is only getting bigger and better. Since there’s no dearth of options, customers are spoilt for choice and on that note, if you want them to choose you over others, you need to make sure that your product information is rich, consistent and most importantly, accurate. But how would you ensure that? Well, the answer lies in your eCommerce product catalog and the way you manage it. 

The quality of your product data across multiple channels more or less depends on your product catalog. Needless to say, the organization and publishing of product data need to be accurate, which is only possible if you spend some valuable time on catalog management. The process can be time taking, sure, but it is crucial.


Here’s what goes into effective eCommerce catalog management:


  • eCommerce catalog processing
  • Product entry
  • Catalog building and indexing
  • Catalog content management
  • Catalog conversion
  • Catalog updating and maintenance
  • eCommerce back office support
  • Google shopping data feed
  • Product feed submission
  • Product image processing


But before you get down to any of these processes, it’s imperative for you to be in the know and find out all about catalog management that there is.


Let’s start with the importance of catalog management.


eCommerce Catalog Management - Why The Fuss?

Proper catalog management will yield the best results for your eCommerce business. It helps you in building a strong foundation for your business. Besides this, it does much more, such as:


  • Ensuring the accuracy of product information


When you manage your product catalog like you are supposed to, it is ensured that the information at your disposal is customer ready and fully-attributed. For example, if you’re selling a pair of shoes, the attribute ‘color’ must be attached with all the listings, irrespective of the supplier it came from. This will ensure that your product data is consistent across all the channels. 


  • Building a successful omnichannel experience

Maintaining consistent product data across all channels makes for an excellent omnichannel experience for you and your customers. Let’s say a customer finds your product listing on Amazon but decides to buy it from your dedicated website. If the product data on Amazon is different from that on your website, customer experience will be hampered, which is not good for your conversions. This consistency of data is ensured with systematic product cataloging.  


  • Ensuring a rich customer experience

Your product listing ensures a rich customer experience when your products are exact, easily searchable, and the product information is up to the mark. Also. detailed information works better than incomplete chunks. When you’re able to provide such customer experience, you can be sure that your buyers will choose you over your competitors.


  • Encouraging business growth

When your product data is up-to-date and neatly managed, you won’t have any problem in adding new products. Managing new SKUs is easy and hence, you can expand your inventory without a second thought. Also, you get to work with suppliers and wholesalers in order to find new products to sell. Supplier data might need some extra refining though. But then again, it’s always possible with catalog management. 


Challenges of eCommerce Catalog Management

Catalog management is easier said than done. Retailers might face a number of challenges while trying to organize their product information in a catalog. Here are a few of the important ones:


  • Regular product updating

Due to new price changes or product listings, merchants need to update product SKUs continuously. This can take time, causing you to shift your focus away from the other core activities of your eCommerce business such as marketing and crucial management operations.


  • Listing products on multiple channels

Suppose, you, as a merchant, want to list your products on your website, as well as on Amazon and  eBay. Now, Amazon’s way of listing your products will be different from that of eBay and your website. Maintaining consistent product data across multiple channels is quite a challenge for the retailers, one that takes precision. 


  • Incomplete supplier data

Working with suppliers may be a good way to expand your business but it, in no way, simplifies the management of product data. Often, product data coming from suppliers is incomplete. Several product attributes might be missing because suppliers don’t sell to consumers directly. So they, of course, don’t need to stock up on complete information. Completing these missing fields again takes time and attention.


  • Data centralization issues

Merchants are often unable to centralize their product data and have a single view of it. They might be working with multiple spreadsheets, which eventually leads to data quality problems. Due to this, retailers are not able to search through or update the data easily.


So What’s The Solution?

Now that you are aware of the challenges and how important managing your product catalog is, it's time to know how it should be done:


  • Connect directly to the distributors and manufacturers

One of the challenges mentioned above was incomplete product information. Since a lot of information fields such as UPC, ASIN, Part number, etc. need to be filled in, it’s best that you clarify them directly with the manufacturers. This will ensure that all the information is consistent and up to the mark.


  • Ensure accurate product information by avoiding extra, unneeded details.

The product information in your listings must be complete, precise and accurate since your conversion rate will depend largely on how accurate your listings are as compared to the actual product. Therefore, it is better if you include the information after comparing the product information to the product itself. To ensure a quality listing, you must have the requisite know-how for catalog product descriptions writing to make them compelling and unique. The same goes for your product titles.


  • Maintain uniformity on your site and in your product listings

If the product information on your listings or website isn’t uniform or your site’s navigation is confusing, it would be next to impossible to crack a sale. In order to make a purchase, the customer must know what to expect. This depends a lot on how you’ve managed to organize the product information. For example, you could categorize your listings according to their type, size, color, brand, etc., making it easy for the customers to look through and make up their mind to buy a certain product.


  • Invest in a PIM (Product Information Management System)

Retailers dealing with a large number of SKUs can easily manage product data using a PIM system. PIM is an application that can be used to manage your product data and centralize it all at one place. It helps in streamlining multiple processes such as uploading, standardizing, and publishing the product data. Smaller retailers, ones with fewer SKUs to handle, can, however, make use of Excel.


It All Comes Down To This

eCommerce catalog Processing is undoubtedly a cumbersome task. But if done right, it can add value to your eCommerce business as well as increase conversions. Also, proper cataloging will ensure good customer experience, especially if you’re dealing with omnichannel retailing. Benefits galore!