Setting up an eCommerce store is easy. However, maintaining a current and well-structured eCommerce product catalog is the difficult part. You could have hundreds or thousands of product SKUs to publish and manage across different online sales channels like your webstore and several online marketplaces.
The product data with all its variations of size, color, etc. can tend to become complicated and inconsistent across multiple channels. It can be a highly tedious and time-consuming exercise to manage and maintain consistency. This is why many merchants end up setting up low-quality and poorly structured product information because it’s simply too much to handle. However, poor product information can lead to serious issues like incomplete product listings online, leading to a decline in sales and purchases.
Why eCommerce Product Catalog Matters
Product data is an integral part of providing an optimized online experience. Many eCommerce marketers commit the mistake of considering product data as just the product descriptions. Effective product catalog management serves as a key foundation of delivering shopping experiences:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – How easy products will be to find through an online search engine and most importantly whether relevant products come up against user queries.
- Site navigation – How easily a buyer can navigate through the webstore and various product categories to narrow down their buying choices
- Site search – How easily a buyer can search and find products on your eCommerce store
- Product suggestions – Showing relevant product recommendations to buyers to increase average order value and/or upsell opportunities
- Confidence to purchase – Giving buyers confidence and trust that your product meets their needs
eCommerce product catalog management also impacts important eCommerce back-office operations:
- Go-to-market time – Ability to publish and update online product listings online easily and quickly
- eCommerce operations reporting – Ability to generate accurate reports of sales by SKU, costs by SKU, sales by category, inventory levels, etc.
- Integration – Ability to integrate external systems like ERP, POS, and more…
Challenges of eCommerce Product Catalog Management
Here are a few challenges that merchants face with eCommerce product catalog management.
Keeping Product Listings Updated
In eCommerce, changes are shift and fast. Due to continuous changes in the price, newly available products, products going out of stock, promotions, offer, and many other reasons, merchants have to continuously update their product catalog. Every day, a significant amount of time and effort is spent in fine-tuning products so that they can be listed appropriately. These tedious tasks take away considerable bandwidth that could have been otherwise utilized in other important tasks such as marketing, operations, and serving customers.
Managing product listings across multiple sales channels
Many marketers need to manage a product catalog with the same products across multiple online channels like marketplaces and webstores.
Listing products across multiple e-stores is difficult because each platform has its own product listing structure. Product categories on Amazon are different from those on eBay. Also, the process and methods of listing your product on a marketplace may be very different from how they are listed on your own eCommerce store.
Modifying product listings to best fit each individual sales channel can take hours, which can slow your go-to-market time with products. Product data can become complicated and lead to making common mistakes like incomplete information or even mapping the listing under the wrong category or mismatched category.
Dealing with Supplier Data
The product data provided by suppliers or other third-party vendors often have bare minimum information, has majorly technical specs, and could be missing several product attributes or features. Further, this information can also be in the wrong format or structures.
Product suppliers don’t sell directly to consumers; hence they do not need to normalize their product information the same way that merchants require to do. The product information in the product catalog needs to be fixed in the correct format before publishing online.
Expanding Your Product Catalog
If the product catalog is poorly organized and poorly structured, it becomes extremely difficult to add more products and map them to the right navigation tree. Merchants either have to redo and clean up the products with their variations, or have to follow the existing poor product data structure. This many times leads merchants not to add more products to their existing catalogs, instead create new structures which further complicates the browsing experience for the users. Merchants may not have the time and resources to fix these types of problems. eCommerce support services providers like TransForm help to effectively streamline product catalog to help achieve higher conversions.
Managing complex product structures like serialized items or kits/product bundles
The complexity of the product catalog depends on the types of products sold on an online store. For example, a merchant selling car audio systems may have to deal with a few challenging structures like:
- Serialized items – Each product in a car music system like subwoofer or amplifier is a unique item based on the model of the car it can be assembled into
- Kits/bundles – A music system consists of a front panel, speaker types, subwoofers, audio jacks, etc. that can be bundled together
Even a fashion and apparel company might have products where one product can have different sizes and colors. These variations of products must be organized and well-represented without users needing to jump between several pages for similar products. These variations of products are mapped to unique SKUs and hence back-office systems and operations need to be robust for inventory, order, and shipment management.
Improve Your eCommerce Product Catalog Management
The products uploaded with the right images and appropriate content attracts buyers and keeps them engaged. Even non-technical consumers convert to buyers with easy-to-follow product information. Convert your eCommerce product catalog databases and documentations into the latest digital formats to elevate your e-store. It will help you in boosting traffic to your website and increasing revenue. TransForm Solutions team helps run the eCommerce business easier for everyone and helps you to sell more, stay lean, and compete big. Contact our eCommerce experts to help you do that.