An outdated product catalog can be detrimental to your business. How do you know if yours is up-to-date? How can you keep it that way?
In this digital age, products change on a regular basis. This is especially true in the automotive industry, where new vehicle configurations are released almost daily. Fortunately, there are ways for business owners to keep their product catalogs current without having to do it manually.
One of the easiest and most efficient methods is integrating a PIM (product information management) system.
In this blog post, we will explore how to update your eCommerce product catalogs automatically with a PIM system so that you never have to worry again about incorrect or obsolete data!
What happens with outdated product catalogs?
When vendors don’t use the proper management methods for their catalogs, the following can happen:
- Customers can purchase products that are no longer available.
- Consumers will have a difficult time finding the right product for their needs.
- The rate of returned products will increase while customer satisfaction decreases.
- Business owners won’t know when an item is about to be discontinued and stop selling it to make room for new inventory.
- The competitive advantage of a company compared to other companies in the same industry may diminish.
Problems typically associated with manual product management involve human error and misinformation, too much time spent searching for data rather than using it for business growth, and limited visibility into inventory.
Ultimately, failing to update and manage your catalogs properly leads to lost sales and opportunities for growth.
Product Information Management Software
Instead of manually uploading all product information, a PIM solution can automatically update all digital catalogs at your disposal.
PIM software represents a single source of truth for your product management. It contains information such as product specifications, product descriptions, videos, image collections, price lists, digital assets, and more. This software can automate the process of spreading information updates across a network of digital channels and systems to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks during data entry.
Automating not only saves valuable time for everyone involved but also ensures accurate product data. With everything going through a product information management tool, there is no room for human error that might cause the distribution of inaccurate information.
Here are some best practice tips and tricks for product information management to make the most out of this process.
Tagging and Categorizing
Tag your products based on their dimensions, color, weight, and other relevant characteristics. This will make it easy to access them later on when you’re looking for something specific or just want to update the information of a certain product that needs an edit.
Categorize your products based on their use: do they have any special features? How are they used in connection with each other?
Make sure to go through this process from the perspective of your online shoppers. How will they use your products? How do they want to find them when browsing the catalog? Always keep the customer experience in mind when organizing product content.
Consistency is critical in the tagging and categorizing process. Try not to use different labels, tags, or category names for the same features or characteristics.
Mapping the Catalog Management Process
Managing an eCommerce catalog is a complex task, not least because it involves multiple stakeholders. Mapping the process of catalog management is the first step in identifying these complexities. It is also a way to measure how effectively the process can be executed and its potential bottlenecks.
To create an accurate catalog map, you need to answer these three question groups:
- How many steps does your typical catalog management process involve? How often do these tasks occur (daily, weekly, monthly)? How do these tasks connect?
- How many people are involved in your catalog management process, and what is their role (buyers, merchandisers, managers, product marketing teams)? How does each person contribute to the overall process?
- What tools or software solutions do you use for digital product catalog management? How can you improve them so that they increase efficiency and accuracy?
Here is an example:
If you are a wholesaler and want to add a couple of new products to your catalog, a clear map of the process you follow will help identify where inefficiencies and potential errors occur.
The first step is gathering information about each product from suppliers, including product details such as price, description, UPC, etc.; this can be done by either a member of the marketing team or someone in the sourcing department.
Next comes arranging the purchase and delivery of the desired products.
Depending on how you set things up, you may want to commission a photoshoot of the product for your catalog.
Finally, the stocked products need to be listed on inventory and any other relevant databases. The last step will be to add images of the product and its SKU number for quick reference if it is not already part of an existing database.
Keeping Your Product Database Clean
Optimizing your product catalog comes hand in hand with maintaining an information database. To ensure that your database is clean and up to date, you will need to keep your eCommerce system updated regularly.
Outline the roles and define the authorization flows for all the different users. Each stakeholder should know their role in the product catalog management and what they can edit. This allows for a clean workflow to prevent errors due to miscommunication.
Any changes made in the inventory database should be verified by checking the shipment database and any other databases that are relevant for your business. This is a crucial step because it ensures the accuracy of information before publishing new catalogs or posting updates online. You don’t want incomplete product data ending up in front of your customers.
If you are considering expanding your business to another eCommerce platform, it would be best to first assess your current data structure. Consider whether product catalog data is easily manageable, collectible, and organizable. If not, you will need to do some data migration or internal data restructuring before moving forward.
Offering Relevant Alternatives
Your PIM software could also help you with upselling and cross-selling alternative products.
Offering a customer an upsell might be as simple as providing them with the opportunity to purchase additional items that complement what they are already ordering, such as adding food coloring and sprinkles to their cake order. To offer customers cross-selling of products in your catalog, you would need to have corresponding records for those products available in your database and catalog – this is where the PIM automation process comes in.
Offering upsells and cross-selling is a great way to make your customers happy without having to spend any more time than necessary on the transaction. You may find that by presenting these options in addition to their initial order, you will be able to increase the average revenue per customer because they are purchasing things they wouldn’t otherwise consider buying.
Product information management is a tedious task that requires time, patience, organization skills, and planning for any potential problems or errors along the way.
The benefits of using a product information management system to update your product catalogs are clear-cut and far outweigh the risks. How you maintain your data is a decision between cost, efficiency, and quality – but the most important factor in this equation should always be customer satisfaction. A PIM solution helps you attach rich content to product listings, improve your product messaging, and even manage your marketing campaigns.
To make the most out of automatic catalog management software, look into tagging and categorizing your products, mapping your catalog management processes, keeping your product database clean, and offering relevant upsell and cross-sell alternatives.
If you want to learn more about how you can update product catalogs for your eCommerce business automatically with a PIM system, don’t hesitate to reach out to Illumaware. We are always happy to help.