Product Catalog Management— Why It is Essential for Retail & eCommerce Success

Product catalogs are a core part of digital commerce platforms. They need to be made available to all consumers from a single, trusted version of the truth. Analysts from Gartner & Forrester see a growing attention in improving product catalogs from an emerging “product experience management” perspective.

A neglected and mismanaged product catalog management strategy can hold your business back—whether you want to expand to additional channels or collaborate with new suppliers. Simple operational executions that should take days or hours can eat up weeks or months. This can hamper activities such as adding new SKUs, integrating new data sources, or connecting with new customer touchpoints. It is now a must for retailers and brands to align their product catalogs with changing business scenarios for supporting different steps of the customer journey.

The Imperatives of eCommerce Product Catalogs

Product catalogs include the taxonomy and product details, with a base price and product configuration. Their accuracy and credibility is one thing, but they must also simplify the digital commerce enablement and fulfill channel-specific requirements. Traditional platforms just support direct data entry and simple imports such as spreadsheets. Today, enterprises need advanced catalog management capabilities with more excellent functionalities and comprehensive syndication/channel management, and a “single view” of product capabilities.

In many respects, COVID-19’s impact has changed the mindset and priorities. In 2020, many retail and CPG brands started experimenting with new selling points, faster distributions, contactless delivery, and complete digital shopping phenomena. Some started selling on marketplaces, while others built out their own direct channels. Both approaches demand a robust product catalog management process.

A solid eCommerce product catalog management strategy helps you accelerate time-to-market, increase product visibility to consumers, improve customer experience, and drive higher digital sales. It also provides the convenience of consolidated product information that allows for easy comparison of many products and prices in one place.

1. Promotions and Merchandising

Online channels create more opportunities to run a variety of promotional techniques that may not be possible in physical stores. On eCommerce channels, new offers and referrals can be quickly promoted. Offers for customers who are at risk of leaving can be convinced with the right product at the right time.

To attract digital-savvy users, you need to make sure that products are well-stocked and attractively displayed at diverse customer touchpoints. A well-managed eCommerce product catalogs help you minimize manual hassle, eliminate quality or error issues, meet tight deadlines, and reduces operational costs. You can rapidly plan and execute promotional campaigns and attract buyers with the correct merchandising. You can leverage big promotional days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles’ Day to draw traffic and attention. It also provides you the flexibility in executing multi-lingual catalog processing and providing ready-to-use catalogs for omnichannel product listings.

2. Pricing and Bundles

Retailers or CPG industry operating in multiple channels should have consistent pricing for the same products to present a unified customer experience. However, this can put them in unfavorable positions when selling on marketplaces, where competition and price pressure are fierce. With eCommerce product catalogs, they have the flexibility to update their product prices regularly and rapidly build new product bundles based on the current demand and sale. You can make bulk-volume changes to the biggest product families.

This helps increase average order value, improve margins, reduce decision exhaustion, and enhance customer loyalty. More meaningful and detailed product data, enriched with different attributes you will have, more they can be sales influencers.

3. Smooth Integration Operations

A robust product catalog management improves your ability to share accurate and up-to-date product data with other systems.

Large retail organizations generally do not manage their ‘master’ data in their eCommerce platform, and they primarily store in back-end applications such as product information management (PIM), order management system (OMS), fulfillment, and enterprise resource planning (ERP). The data (including marketing data, product feed, pricing, order, inventory, and fulfillment data) is integrated with systems to automate the process of syncing product listings.

If SKUs are appropriately organized, integrations become easier to show the item properly across different touchpoints with the correct SKUs with inventory counts or customer orders. You can easily integrate with your brick-and-mortar POS, inventory control applications, and Analytics and reporting, and marketplace listing apps. Moreover, you can publish across different sales channels with real-time synchronization and manage all your products from a single location.

4. 'Digital-first' Customer Experience

Offering shoppers content and products relevant to their personal interest and customer journey have a positive impact on conversion and order value. The more data digital and channel marketing leaders have about their shoppers, the more personalized the experience they can offer.

There are many opportunities to personalize throughout the customer journey, including when people land on the homepage or product pages, search for products, add items to their carts, and even leave the site. Interactive digital catalogs leveraging all digital assets, including high-resolution images, videos, and 3D models, enables retailers to improve customer experience.

An optimized product catalog also enables conversational commerce via virtual assistants (VAs) to increases customer intimacy. Enriched product information can also be transformed from being feature-based to intention-based — enabling innovative customer experiences.

How to Effectively Manage Product Catalogs

 

The Solution: Master Data Management & Product Information Management

Creating and curating a single central source of the truth for product catalogs continues to be a challenge for many retailers. Without a PIM system, they are likely to be reliant on email and spreadsheets to help collect and enrich product catalogs and detailed product information. This is a very manual, inefficient, and non-scalable process. Though the core of a service catalog or SKU is usually held in ERP, this is not sufficient to bring together and disseminate all product information required by the organization’s digital and physical channels.

MDM/PIM usually is positioned between ERP and other platforms aggregating product content to create a single source of truth for product catalogs to improve time to market and deliver a seamless experience across channels.

PIM solutions are purpose-built to provide the product, commerce, and marketing teams with the ability to create and maintain an approved shareable version of rich product content. Through out-of-the-box capabilities — including workflow, digital asset management, and multichannel publishing — inefficient processes can be automated, making it both efficient and scalable. Moreover, a PIM helps improve data quality and availability, which results in effective execution and engagement across channels. Retailers and CPG can benefit from a PIM system include:

Manage and Enrich Improve Data Quality Enable Omnichannel Enhance Business Agility
Consolidate your large and complex product catalogs at a single place. Eliminate data quality issues impacting sales, customer satisfaction and retention. Get support for omnichannel channels (digital, physical, print). Rapidly respond to the international variations in products data and language.
Find gaps and inconsistencies in product data and update it for accuracy and relevancy. Minimize data quality issues impacting supply-chain relationships. Optimize product catalogs in bulk and publish across 2 000+ channels. Web-to-print capability allows to create engaging print catalogs.
Tell better brand story with enriched product details. Get data validation and data quality reports for a central overview. No coding required and no hours of manual effort. Get multichannel agility to adapt to a crisis like COVID-19.

Non-stop Enjoyment: Online Shopping and Retail Stores Perfectly Linked

The company is a leading importer of Italian gourmet specialties and it has been serving restaurateurs and retailers since 1973. The company’s distribution channels were expanded into multi-channel sales via catalog, retail, and brand shop for B2B and B2C. For seamless cross-channel commerce, Pimcore partner Blackbit has linked the Pimcore web platform used by the client with the in-store cash register system and a cooking course management tool. The dwell time and the conversion rate of the online shop have increased by more than 30 % within a few weeks after the relaunch.
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Consolidated Data View for B2B

The company is an American (B2B) distributor of information technology products. Present across 6 continents, they claim 1 out of 3 mobile devices in the U.S., are handled by them. They wanted to consolidate and manage huge amount of product data the company purchases from various external data providers and vendors in an efficient and scalable manner. Pimcore PIM, DAM was implemented for dynamic configuration and dynamic validation to got rid of redundant data, eliminating manual effort for good.
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