For many companies, their B2B eCommerce catalog is the backbone of their success. Millennials and Gen Xers are fast becoming the biggest online shoppers today, comprising a sizeable portion of the labor force that influences B2B purchasing decisions. B2B eCommerce catalogs offer a way for companies to expand their reach into this much sought-after target market by providing the kind of detailed product information required to make a purchase online.
All this should make your B2B eCommerce catalog an integral part of your B2B eCommerce strategy. If your product catalog is quite extensive, managing it can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be. To help you get started, here are six tips to better manage your online catalog, from optimizing product information to measuring impact and conversion rates.
1. Develop Customer Trust with Quality Product Information
Business relationships are built on a foundation of trust. In B2B eCommerce, one way to do this is by being transparent and honest. Customers want to know more about your product beyond adverts and marketing content.
They want easy-to-understand, comprehensive, and accurate information about what you have to offer. Therefore it is critical that your B2B eCommerce catalog contains all the details they need to make informed purchasing decisions.
This potentially includes the following:
- Technical attributes of your product (size, color, model, etc.)
- High-resolution images and videos of the product
- User-generated content such as reviews
- Additional description of the product, its uses, and benefits
Businesses should also consider utilizing an embedded search engine which allows site visitors to use plain English to locate favorite products and discover new items. Once a search engine is enabled and active, shoppers can utilize filters and facets to narrow their searches and navigate their way to the appropriate products more efficiently. See more below…
2. Efficiently Transform Traditional Catalogs Into Digital Product Descriptions
Already have a traditional catalog that contains all your product information? Going digital is the next logical step for your B2B eCommerce site. However, this does not entail simply scanning your paper catalog, uploading it on your site, and calling it a day. A PDF catalog is useful but individual product pages with relevant images, detailed descriptions, and ordering info, such as product ID and inventory levels, is how you take the next step and generate business online.
If that sounds appealing but overwhelming, the right eCommerce solutions partner can streamline and simplify the process. With Zobrist, there’s no need to manually tag and categorize all your products: our cutting-edge tech automates the process using an integrated search engine that crawls your catalog database to create indexes and tags based on common attributes of your products. This makes your products easily searchable on your eCommerce site, which is important in today’s economic climate where 30% of online consumers value the experience of conveniently navigating eCommerce sites. If you want to go on step further, you can add NLS (Natural Language Support) capability to your search engine, allowing buyers to search with plain English. This means you don’t have to worry about category management.
Another advantage of taking your catalog online is that it can be edited in a collaborative manner with a number of data points being exposed and shared. Product name, short description, long description, along with images, diagrams, specifications, warranty information can be viewed, reviewed, and updated by the catalog team before being shared on the web.
3. Maintain One Consistent Product Database
Your B2B eCommerce catalog is only as good as the quality of your product database. If you maintain multiple, disconnected databases, you run the risk of creating an inconsistent catalog. This will not only inconvenience customers but also put a significant drain on your company resources as managers scramble to maintain several sources of information.
The ideal is for your B2B business to have a single source of truth for your product information. This eliminates redundancies and inconsistencies in your catalog and simplifies the implementation of authorization flows to build accountability. Plus, consolidating the information in one place makes it easier for teams to work together when updating the information on the electronic catalog.
When making updates to your electronic catalog, it’s key to have the right eCommerce solution in place to avoid unnecessary downtime. The Zobrist B2B eCommerce platform allows the catalog to be updated anytime, 24x7x365, and only display products on the website that are in a “published” state. When data is unpublished, products are hidden from view and therefore safe to be worked on, refined, augmented, and enriched until they’re ready to go live.
4. Plot and Analyze Your Entire B2B eCommerce Catalog Management Workflow
Maintaining a B2B eCommerce catalog can be just as challenging as setting it up for the first time, and it’s crucial for you to plot a B2B eCommerce catalog management workflow.
Such a strategy allows users to factor in stakeholders (internal and external) that may be affected by any change in the catalog. It’ll help managers analyze and evaluate changes in the workflow to determine if they’re contributing to operational efficiency or not. Additionally, it will help identify any opportunities for catalog improvement, as well as allow you to point any weaknesses in your catalog management workflow.
With the right platform in place, collaboration becomes more effective and you can better assess and streamline catalog management workflows. When you partner with Zobrist, there’s no need for your product spec copywriter to wait on drafting product descriptions because your product image manager hasn’t finished optimizing the product images for the web. Your entire catalog management team can work together, at the same time, to refine and update your product catalog.
5. Integrate PIM with Catalog Management
Spreadsheets are a staple in any business, but may not be the best tool to manage your catalog as they can leave plenty of room for human error. As such, investing in a product information management (PIM) system that integrates with your eCommerce tool is a smart move.
By using a PIM alongside your catalog management solution, you can:
- Get access to ready-to-use catalog templates
- Organize product data in a single hub
- Make product information easily accessible
- Simultaneously update information across all touchpoints
A PIM system that you can integrate with an eCommerce catalog (via an automated feed) can improve your workflow. As you will be connecting these two solutions, you no longer have to purchase disconnected tools and put up with a siloed catalog management process. This optional capability to transition to catalog management is an integrated and free feature of Zobrist’s B2B eCommerce solution.
6. Measure Success with Analytics
Following these tips and best practices will help you create a comprehensive eCommerce catalog. However, creating an effective eCommerce catalog that works for your target audience is another story.
The ability to gather large sets of data and perform complex analytics has made companies more efficient, better prepared for change, and better able to serve their customers. Analytics will inform your design, market approach, speed, and inventory design, helping you to quantify and qualify the impact of your catalog.
Zobrist’s integrated analytics packages offer invaluable insights by tracking page views, conversion rates, abandonment rates, and the like. This way, you can determine points of improvement for your catalog and act accordingly.
Simplify B2B eCommerce Catalog Management with the Right Tools
Implementing and managing a B2B eCommerce catalog is a big responsibility for any business, a task that requires time, effort, and expertise—especially when you're also juggling other responsibilities like inventory or customer service. With so much information to manage, it's easy to make mistakes and find yourself lost in the weeds of your own data.
Keeping up with modern B2B buyer demands is not easy. It requires businesses to constantly evolve, implementing new processes and embracing new technologies that can cater to the ebb and flow of the industry. Zobrist makes the process infinitely more manageable with our Smart Merchandiser platform—an innovative tool that streamlines this process for you by providing all of the features necessary to smartly manage your stock, product categories, and product information in one place, optimizing consumer experiences along the way.