In an omnichannel world, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits all approach to listing products across marketplaces. Retailers must now create custom content for various channels that each require their own unique listing templates and pricing models.
That’s why retailers must consider using an optimized data-rich catalog that stores various descriptions, technical details, images, and other media that seamlessly integrates with every major resale channel. Such product-driven data must also contain written and visual content that appeals to savvy customers who scour the web for videos, pictures, reviews, and specifications before making a purchase.
Here we review 3 catalog management strategies that will reduce time to market, ensure brand consistency, and increase sales.
- Define Your Channel Strategy
- Optimize Customer Experience with Quality Attributes
- Automate Data Management & Distribution
1. DEFINE YOUR CHANNEL STRATEGY
Before you can create an effective product catalog, you must determine which ecommerce channels your target customers prefer and what product attributes these sites require. Some general merchandise marketplaces, like Amazon, Jet.com, Walmart and Ebay attract a broad audience looking to buy everything from socks to groceries to cars. Other sites might be specifically targeted to your industry and product type. Regardless of the channel, you can bet that every single one has its own listing requirements. Understanding the restrictions and requirements up front will save headaches and time. It will prevent finding problems such as missing product-level information later on, and streamline your process for bringing the products to market. Understanding these restrictions is important, but you cannot let them hinder the curation of an optimal product catalog.
2. OPTIMIZE THE USER EXPERIENCE
Before you create a comprehensive list of product attributes for your catalog, you must understand the customer persona and journey. Why? Because eCommerce competition is fierce, and consumers want products that meet very specific needs. In fact, 31% of Amazon shoppers never visit the site without knowing exactly what type of product they want. Additionally, nearly 50% are unwilling to browse beyond the second page of results.
That’s why it’s vital to think about how the ideal customer is searching for your products and understand their pain points by looking at reviews. Based on your knowledge of customers’ needs at different points in the purchasing journey, you can then determine the item-level attributes to collect in your catalog that will maximize your products’ exposure. The goal of this research is to exceed channel requirements using a list of comprehensive attributes that will make your product stand out.
- Physical Attributes
- Product categories
- Similar products (for upsells)
- Item Condition
- Return Policy
- Quantity Available
Stand Out Attributes
- Detailed product photography (73% more visitors who watch product videos will buy)
- Detailed measurements (for apparel)
- Photos that show your product compared to something else (for size reference)
- Videos that show people interacting with your product
- Video assembly instructions
- 360 views of your products
- Links to media coverage
- Highlight a key differentiator product feature
- Sometimes less is more – Research shows that customers who are motivated to buy items they use for utility purposes, prefer fewer attributes.
- Sometimes more is more – Customers who are motivated to buy for pleasure want to see more product attributes. – GOOD LUCK!
- Focus on SEO – Make sure your product descriptions are inspired by keywords that your customers are searching for. This will establish rapport and increase the likelihood that they will find your product.
Once you define the comprehensive list of customer and channel-centric attributes, your catalog is ready to be integrated and distributed across every channel.
3. MOVE AWAY FROM MANUAL
The manual model of crafting an omnichannel catalog requires countless hours laboring over a seemingly endless stream of excel columns for each unique channel. For example, Amazon doesn’t have the same qualifications as Ebay. Groupon has its own list of attribute requirements as well. So, every marketplace requires a new spreadsheet before sending it off to distribution channels, and every new sheet drains precious resources. To make matters worse, this manual process leaves far too much room for inconsistencies and errors.
A more automated model eliminates needless waste by eliminating the time-consuming process of catalog creation and distribution. Through catalog software, retailers can manage and manipulate product information according to every marketplace’s requirements in one centralized location. The data is clean, consistent and accurate across all digital touch points. The attributes can also be tailored to specific product types, ranging from electronics and apparel, to home goods and jewelry. Automated software that is backed by AI can be especially powerful, because it can automatically map categories to the correct marketplace, while sifting through images and choosing the ones that will best represent the product.
But full automation is not appropriate for everyone. For example individual sellers and small business owners may want to start with a hybrid model. This would include a structure of dynamic and static data that allows smaller companies to enter new products into their catalogs manually, and allow the system to update them instantaneously.
Efficient catalog management is vital for ecommerce sellers. It severely reduces time to market AND beats the competition with comprehensive attributes.