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Have you ever added a product you liked to your online shopping cart but abandoned the process at the last minute because there’s some little detail that’s missing? If so, you’re among the 32% of online shoppers who delay or abandon a purchase because of deficient product information. This is but one, perhaps the biggest consequence, of having a poor catalog management process.

Here’s the thing. You might have a great product but a patchy online catalog. That’s going to hurt your business, big time. With large amounts of inventory to manage and growing competition, a disjointed, out-of-date catalog can be your downfall. It can lead to inaccurate inventory tracking and perhaps even more critical, customer churn. Incorrect product information is also a catalyst for returns, with studies reporting that inaccurate item descriptions are the cause of 64.2% of returned item purchases. Put simply, a well-organized and easy-to-navigate product catalog can mean the difference between an eCommerce store that thrives and one that dives.

The catalog management process is an essential part of any eCommerce business. In fact, catalogs are the foundation on which your entire online store is built, so it's important to maintain them properly. By taking the time to fine-tune your catalog management practices and adopting comprehensive software solutions to automate this vital operational area, you optimize your eCommerce processes and provide a more seamless online shopping experience for your customers.

If it’s unseen, consider it unsold, and if you don't have a plan for this process, you could be leaving money on the table if your products are not easily discoverable. In this article, we will outline some of the challenges to look out for when managing your eCommerce catalog and how you can take control and save time by leveraging innovative tools like Smart Merchandiser.

Typical eCommerce Catalog Management Challenges

Catalog management is something many people don't think about until it's too late, but if you want your business to stand out in a sea of competition, you need a custom catalog containing information that’s concise but descriptive enough so that it’s useful for both for staff and customers, as well as warehouse and delivery teams.

With the boom in eCommerce during the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers found themselves more engaged with different online shopping experiences. And with every interaction and transaction, they honed their preferences, their expectations, and their demands. Hard-pressed businesses scrambled to keep up; indeed, many struggled to stay afloat.

First-rate companies can have bad catalogs, but it’s rare for disorganized and inefficient companies to produce good ones. Catalog management will allow businesses to build and rebuild reliable product databases that drive omnichannel transactions and improve customers’ overall online shopping experience. In the eCommerce space, having a catalog management process is now more important than ever.

However, implementing catalog management practices can present a fair share of challenges. For starters, maintaining, organizing, and updating inventory requires an eye for detail and the diligence to do so consistently. Here are a few more roadblocks to look out for…

1. Manual Product Tagging During Updates and Expansion

Perhaps the most difficult part of product catalog management is data entry. All products in your inventory need to be correctly labeled and tagged. Ideally, you will go through this process every time you need to update or expand your catalog. Otherwise, it’ll be difficult to ensure that you are shipping the right items to the right customers. Plus, having incorrect labels can make it a nightmare to track inventory levels. However, the process of sifting through all the items in your inventory for updating as well as manually adding new products one by one is time-consuming. It is also prone to human error.

2. Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) Management for Multiple Product Types

To keep your eCommerce product catalog management up to date, you have to continuously update your SKUs because of price fluctuations, new products, out-of-stock items, or those removed from listing. Keeping a catalog of the different products you sell is challenging enough; doing this for products with different variations is even more so. This will mean you have to prepare related SKUs for each option available for each product. For instance, if you have a store that sells casual wear and you offer crew neck shirts in different sizes and colors, this means you will need to have a code for the crew neck shirt as well as separate codes for a medium blue crew neck shirt, a large blue crew neck shirt, and so on.

3. Maintaining Consistency When Selling Across Channels

Selling products on third-party channels will most likely require you to adhere to predetermined catalog formats that may not be in line with what you’re utilizing for your eCommerce store. Meaning, you will need to come up with a system that will allow you to streamline how you categorize and label products. Doing so will help you prevent problems with your supply chain, order tracking, and inventory management.

4. Standardizing Product Data from Third-Party Sources

Much like selling on multiple platforms, working with data from third-party sources will require you to adapt to different labeling and formatting systems. For example, if you receive product data from suppliers, then you’ve probably already noticed that they structure their data differently from yours.

You can sync your formatting across the board to remedy this, filling in any missing data fields and standardizing naming conventions. Plus, it is important to ensure that all product information is up-to-date once you’re done with the process.

Simplify Product Catalog Management with Smart Merchandiser

The essence of every catalog is products and information. Smart Merchandiser is designed to optimize the sequence of your catalog so you can better manage your inventory levels and encourage sales.

Control what, when, and where to display products according to seasonality, buzz meter, sentiment analytics, and inventory to provide the best customer experience. The drag-and-drop simplicity of the interface means you can quickly make changes and see these in real-time.

Our “leading color” feature allows merchandisers to showcase products in different colors in each category. With Smart Merchandiser, attribute management has never been easier. Here you can visually add, update, and delete attributes, facets, and filters. As the system is completely digitized, users can easily detect and correct inconsistencies in naming. This also accelerates the process as major updates can be automated.

Smart Merchandiser’s Import/Export Feature allows you to draft your changes without disturbing the site’s front-end. It also ensures your online storefront has zero downtime when you roll out your update. With real-time inventory management, you instantly know which items need restocking and reflect these changes in your catalog immediately. This way, businesses can make sure that all depleted items are replenished in a timely manner as well as prevent overstocking for items with lower turnover rates.

The analytics feature offers instant insights into the number of views on each product thumbnail, while the platform’s Visual Attribute Management capabilities mean merchandisers can visually add and edit product attributes and push them live without running complex IT processes. More importantly, you can now visually enable, reorder or hide search facets to optimize the shopper search experience and help customers find the right products for them. Combining data and analytics with graphical representations of your catalog and website can translate into incredible time savings for merchandisers.

Additionally, define and link sales catalogs for multiple countries with ease, including the United States, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Americas, supporting multiple native languages. As a cloud solution, Smart Merchandiser supports HCL Commerce (formerly IBM Websphere Commerce) V7, V8, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

Fine-Tune Product Organization to Boost Customer Experience

Nowadays, online shoppers consider easy site navigation a critical factor in their buying experience. In fact, 61% of consumers in the US value convenience above all else when looking for products or services online. Adopting a catalog management tool can go a long way toward providing this convenience.

By taking the time to fine-tune your catalog management practices and adopting comprehensive software solutions for this vital operational area, you can optimize eCommerce processes that will provide a more seamless online shopping experience.

With Smart Merchandiser, you can reduce inventory errors, organize your products for easy search, and help your customers get consistent product information every time they visit your online storefront. Smart Merchandiser also allows you to implement a data-driven approach to eCommerce management as it gives you insights into your customer’s browsing behavior.

Get in touch with Zobrist today and see how Smart Merchandiser can empower you to take control of your product catalog so you can deliver better online customer experiences and gain an improved ability to respond to market changes with drag and drop simplicity.