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Clutter isn’t exclusive to homes and physical stores. Even with online stores, having too much of everything all at once isn’t helpful. Whether it’s a reader squinting to find the article they want or an online shopper exhaustedly looking for an item, clutter is bad news. Is there an online version of Marie Kondo that eCommerce store owners can use for catalog management?

Shopping online signifies freedom for many consumers. We’ve all felt the pain of taking 10 minutes to shop but an hour to pay–or even worse, the frustration of discovering the item you came for is out of stock. Digging through mountains of merchandise to find clothes in your size and preferred color shouldn’t take the whole afternoon.

The best and most engaging shopping experiences come from digital storefronts that put effort into catalog management. These stores make sure all shoppers enjoy a seamless digital experience from start to finish, regardless of the device or sales channel used. By prioritizing simplicity, organization, and ease of use, eCommerce businesses can create a clutter-free digital storefront that wows shoppers and drives sales.

eCommerce team starting catalog management

Why Catalog Management Is Crucial for eCommerce Success

Consumers should always enjoy their online shopping experience. This simple truth should dictate the main objective for all online store owners. After all, the first few minutes when a consumer comes into contact with your product are the most critical purchase-wise.

Google and other advertisers have already perfected the art of captivating viewers for the first five seconds and compelling them to make a purchase. If customers can click the product, find the right size/color/accessories, and click “Buy” during these critical moments, the chances of scoring a sale are huge.

By contrast, the longer a customer has to wade through your online store catalog, the more likely they are to leave without purchasing. After all, any small issue can cause customers to abandon their shopping cart instantly.

The Baymard Institute reported in 2022 that seven out of 10 online shoppers discontinued their online shopping. The Baymard report also suggested that simple design fixes to the shopping process can reduce abandonment rates from 68% to 35%.

The Importance of Catalog Management

Providing the ultimate customer experience usually means doing whatever you can to make them more likely to purchase your product. As soon as your marketing team directs leads to your online store, their experience navigating the site and their ease in finding items will become major factors.

Making sure your online store displays your products in a searchable, organized, and informative manner can prod consumers to make a positive decision. Executing proper catalog management can help you achieve this objective.

  • Catalog management ensures all products are listed with the correct details. This includes price, stock, variants, and sizes. In a single glance, a customer should immediately learn if the item they’re looking for is in stock.
  • The right catalog management presents information in an organized manner. When browsing items, customers will often want to look at alternatives if their choices are unavailable.
  • Catalog management also makes it easier for retailers to provide accurate and consistent information across several sales channels. Conversely, inaccurate or inconsistent data on price or stock can prevent clients from proceeding with a purchase.

Catalog management isn’t just about managing product catalogs. It also covers auxiliary services such as design, data entry, and even catalog copywriting. Each of these functions helps ensure customers get access to up-to-date, accurate, and helpful information as opposed to a cluttered storefront.

small business owner cleaning up her catalog

Marie Kondo Your Catalog: How To Apply It to Your eCommerce Store

As it turns out, catalog management is the online equivalent of our favorite tidy-upper. Boiled down into the basics, the Marie Kondo (or KonMari) method encompasses six guidelines:

  1. Commit to tidying up
  2. Imagine your ideal outcome or lifestyle
  3. Finish discarding first
  4. Don’t tidy by location, tidy by category
  5. Follow the right order
  6. Ask if every item sparks joy

Traditional cleaning means picking up clutter and tidying up a space. However, you’ll just have to repeat these chores once the mess accumulates or things get dirty again. The Marie Kondo method requires carefully going over the house and simplifying the arrangements so you won’t have to repeat the same chores over and over.

The KonMari method also encourages tidying by category. You start off with one type of item such as shoes, then proceed to another one such as clothes. In between, you have to decide whether a particular item brings you joy. A negative response means disposing of the item permanently.

Of course, cleaning up your online catalog requires much more than deciding if each item gives you joy. However, some of Marie Kondo’s principles do actually apply to catalog management. For example, going through items category by category is a good idea when cleaning up your online clutter. This process carefully ensures you or any other product merchandising team won’t have to do so again, even in other sales channels.

The idea of going over each item and checking whether it still inspires joy can also be replicated. But instead of looking at items from an emotional perspective, online merchandisers should regularly weed out any item that’s been sold out or discontinued. Technically, unavailable items won’t inspire joy anymore anyway.

team managing their eCommerce catalog

Strategies for Streamlining eCommerce Catalog Management and Improving Merchandising

You can draw inspiration from the KonMari method and apply some of its tenets when organizing and improving your online catalog. Use these strategies to lose some of the clutter and present your catalog in a more organized and accessible manner:

1. Maintain a Single Source of Truth

This is the most basic requirement of an organized dataset. Modern sales are all about utilizing various sales channels. Maintaining a separate database for each channel is redundant and highly confusing.

The mere act of updating stock information can cause problems if channels don’t receive updated information simultaneously. This is especially true for omnichannel sales, which allow customers and service reps to jump from one channel to another without breaking communication.

2. Keep Your Product Information Continuously Updated and Consistent

The current information customers possess will be the basis for their purchase decisions. So, it’s critical that you keep data accurate at all times–particularly when you’re displaying information such as available stock and stock keeping unit (SKU).

If you think it’s hard losing a buyer who just found out their item is out of stock, think about bulk buyers, especially those who buy in the hundreds or more. Imagine them backing out of a sale because your store keeps showing inaccurate inventory counts. Effective catalog management solves this by ensuring buyers always have the latest stock counts.

3. Provide Information That Brings Joy to Your Customers

Accuracy is one thing, but the completeness of information is also critical. Customers should know about all these options for products that come in various sizes (such as shoes) or variations (such as colors). Instead of representing a product with a single image, it’s better to have images available for all colors and sizes.

In addition, don’t leave arbitrary measurement units to the imagination of customers. For example, the fashion industry is notoriously unwilling to maintain unified standards for different sizes. Instead of simply putting out small, medium, large, XL, etc., share some backing information about your sizes in terms of accepted units of measurement, such as inches or centimeters.

business owner checking their eCommerce website catalog

4. Don’t Leave Your Products to the Imagination; Offer Some Visuals

The best sales catalogs come with colorful photographs and easy-to-read copy. This is why many retailers still insist on distributing their annual or seasonal printed catalogs–even in this digital age. Having great descriptions and a pictorial representation of each product makes it easier for buyers to visualize using them.

For instance, if a shirt comes in shades of blue, don’t rely on adjectives alone to describe the different colors. Display images of the shades so it’s easier for buyers to pinpoint the one they want.

For better and more consistent product descriptions, it might make sense for online retailers to use Product Information Management (PIM) tools. PIMs can help keep track of all products and their related information. They ensure the right information lives in the right channels and is available to customers on demand. PIM tools can also help implement consistent standards across all items in the catalog.

5. Individually Tag Products for Better Categorization

Catalog management for hundreds or thousands of products can be a formidable undertaking. But by tagging individual products, you can group them into related categories. Tags can help merchandisers make the right recommendations for upselling and cross-selling opportunities. They’re also a great way to provide suggestions when customers are looking for alternate or replacement options.

What’s more, tags help shoppers browse related products instantly. Instead of looking for individual items, they can just search the tag keyword. The site will then display all similarly tagged products.

6. Watch Out for Stockouts

For many online stores, featuring an item prominently–such as by placing its image on the homepage–can lead to a surge in demand. Sometimes, the demand becomes so large that the item runs out of stock. Not keeping tabs on the inventory while leaving the featured product upfront can lead to increased customer complaints about unavailability.

Automation is a great way to work around this potential issue. Having product merchandising software that can alert and replace featured products when their inventory falls to zero is a great way to minimize out-of-stock problems. This also gives you enough time to replenish items so you can resume your promotion as soon as possible.

7. Make It Easy for Your Merchandisers

Merchandising an online storefront featuring hundreds of products can keep a marketing team busy for weeks. By the time they complete the task, it’s already the start of a new selling season, which means they must start again. In addition, manually sorting and cycling products and constantly updating their information becomes repetitive, endless tasks.

Instead of dealing with merchandising the traditional way, modern digital merchandising tools simplify the task at hand. These technologies allow the merchandising team to use drag-and-drop functionality when sorting and cataloging products. Modern software also uses cloud technology to keep inventory updated continuously.

Finally, analytics features enable the marketing team to gather insights from collected data. This includes each product’s sales revenue, conversion rate, abandonment rate, and views.

Zobrist Smart Merchandiser Is Your Ultimate Catalog Management Software

Decluttering your online product catalog shouldn’t be a debilitating task. To paraphrase Marie Kondo, each product in your online catalog should bring you joy and revenue. It’s up to you and your merchandising team to tidy your catalog and keep it up-to-date, accurate, and informative.

Zobrist’s Smart Merchandiser can help you manage your inventory and keep your catalog immaculately organized and updated. Even better, the software lets your team manage and maintain your catalog more easily and efficiently. In fact, Zobrist can help online retailers improve their productivity by 70% and raise revenue by 20%.

Contact the Smart Merchandiser team today to take your catalog management to the next level. We’d love to learn more about your company, and we’ll gladly arrange a free demonstration.