Despite what many people in the internet age may think, catalogs aren’t old school. In fact, brands need product catalogs as much today as they ever have, especially now that online product catalogs represent an opportunity to reach new shoppers, expand your customer base, and showcase all your pretty products.
For retailers who are online-only, think about this: customers don’t have a chance to visit a store and browse your products. So by using product catalog software, it's one of the easiest ways you can give them that experience — allowing them to see everything you sell in one location where they can also place an order to buy.
But creating a product catalog isn’t as easy as slapping all your products onto a page. If you want to create a product catalog that will up your sales and boost your bottom line, read on for all the tips, tricks, and tools you need to know about.
Why you need a product catalog
We’re not talking about old-school, mail order catalogs here.
Today’s ecommerce product catalogs can be in print, but they can also be digital (and ideally, they should be both). A product catalog is how you showcase your products. Whether you’re sending the catalog to a press outlet, a retailer, or direct to your customers, it should be a source of rich, complete product information that tells potential buyers everything they need to know about what you offer.
In the digital age, and for strictly ecommerce retailers, in particular, a product catalog can help mimic the traditional in-store experience of browsing all of a brand’s products in one place.
It’s also an excellent sales tool because a product catalog can be distributed via many of your existing marketing and sales channels to help spread awareness of your brand and expand your customer base.
But there are also challenges that come with creating and maintaining a catalog, especially in today’s digital ecommerce landscape where products come with a ton of data. That’s where product catalog management best practices come in.
Why you need good product catalog management
Today’s shoppers demand rich, consistent product information. This is especially important for ecommerce stores — since shoppers can’t rely on physically seeing and feeling an item before they buy it, they need as much information as possible so they know exactly what they’re getting with an online purchase.
But ecommerce retailers already know the challenge that comes with that: Managing all your product data, keeping it up-to-date, and pushing it to all the different channels where you need to use it in the digital age, from your website, to mobile apps, to social media, to online marketplaces like Amazon — and to your product catalog. It’s a constant struggle for online retailers to keep all their product information accurate and up-to-date across so many channels.
That’s where product catalog management comes in — it’s the practice of creating and maintaining a sales catalog that accurately displays all the product information you have available for everything you sell.
Of course, none of those best practices are possible without the last one: Managing your master database of product information. And for that, you need the right tool.
Hint: It’s not a spreadsheet. It’s product information management (PIM) software, which creates a single source of truth where all your product information is kept organized, accurate, up-to-date, and accessible by as many people as you need across your organization.
PIM software is a must for brands in the digital age, but the best PIM software will do so much more for your brand than just manage product information. Plytix does everything PIM should, plus gives you a pain-free way to create and manage product catalogs that are fully integrated with your product data, web store, Amazon listings, and all the other channels you use. It’s PIM and digital catalog software in one.
How to design a product catalog
A product catalog consists of three elements:
- Product data, which should be complete and up-to-date, ready to import from your PIM
- Images, which should be included in your product information and attached as assets to products in your PIM
- Catalog layout, which is up to you. You can design a layout from scratch, or use a template you get online or with whatever catalog building tool you decide to use.
Once you have those three elements, you’re ready for the next steps.
Select your products
A product catalog won’t necessarily contain every product you have on offer, especially if you’re creating tailored catalogs to meet different needs and sales goals. So the first step is to decide which products to include, and order and group them in ways that make sense.
Design your catalog
For your catalog design, you have options. You can hire a designer to create a layout and format for you from scratch (or do it yourself, if you have the know-how). You can also purchase a template online, or use a template that comes with your chosen catalog design tool.
Whichever route you take, it’s important to make sure your layout is customizable so you can create a digital catalog that’s consistent with your company’s own branding.
Homogenize and optimize product data
Ideally, product descriptions and technical data should already be accurate, consistent, and optimized in your PIM. If not, this is the time to get them ready for your product catalog.
Connect your catalog with platforms and channels
This is where the importance of having an up-to-date product catalog becomes really apparent: When you connect your catalog with all the platforms and channels you use to market and sell your products.
This includes your ecommerce platform (Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, or whatever you use); marketplaces like Google, Amazon, Alibaba, and ASOS; and social media platforms, from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Snapchat.
Export your catalog for offline use
An online product catalog may be your primary concern, but there are still benefits to having physical, offline catalogs and sell sheets, even in the digital age.
This is another time when an all-in-one PIM tool like Plytix will come in handy — it comes with a built-in ability to create and export product catalogs and sell sheets in multiple formats, including PDF for easy printing.
A great PIM tool does more than just create product catalogs
Sure, up-to-date product information all in one place and automated sales catalogs are great benefits to using PIM software. But a great PIM will offer your business much, much more than that. It's the secret to multichannel commerce and omnichannel success. It’s also a way for your business to collect and analyze data on your sales and marketing efforts — and turn that data into actionable insights that can help you improve sales and boost your bottom line.
The simple fact is that, in many ways, PIM adopters outperform their competition. Ready to learn more? Download our free ebook today and start leveling up!