Ecommerce Product Catalog Management: 9 Best Practices

Effective ecommerce product catalog management goes beyond just properly managing product data. Nowadays, customers tend to put in more research for product information when shopping online. 

Your job is to make sure your products are accessible online with all the relevant information visitors might need to make a buying decision.

Price tags, product size, color, units available, and other metrics must be continuously kept track of and clearly presented to customers.

The ultimate goal of catalog management in ecommerce is to gain the trust of your online store visitors and help build a well-reputed image for your brand in your industry.

Revenue Generation

Upsell & Cross-sell Products

In order to increase your average order value, you will want to always show product suggestions in your product catalog to upsell or cross-sell your clients.

A user who may want to buy a camera may also be interested in purchasing extra batteries. That’s what cross-selling is about; selling a different product to a customer to increase the order value.

With upselling things are even simpler; you suggest an addition or better version of the product to get the customer to spend even more. Think about it like extra memory or different color ways for a camera.

You can also open more options for your customer in case they want to go for a different model, or simply keep browsing for more products on your site.

You can enable your customers to easily browse through other alternative methods, or even better, allow them to compare different products to each other.

Amazon is the brand we all probably think of when it comes to comparison. They have a “Compare with similar items” section for every product in stock.

Build Product Exposure Strategies That Convert

Personalization is key when it comes to product catalog management. You can manage your products’ exposure based on which products sell most, and more importantly, to which category of visitors they appeal.

You will want to develop product catalogs that respond to what your customer wants. Say if you are running an ecommerce shoe retail website serving both female and male customers, your visitors will want to browse through shoes that match their own gender.

Determine the Most & Least Profitable Products

By properly managing your product catalog, you can easily keep track of which products get the most sales and which don’t.

You can use your ecommerce catalog solution to determine which products perform best. You can capitalize on these opportunities by giving the most profitable products more exposure throughout your website, and reducing exposure and stock for less profitable products.

This practice is best done periodically, as your customers’ needs change based on trends, seasons, and other time factors that influence buying decisions.

You can sort your catalog products based on the time range you want to review. Shorter time periods are best for keeping up with trends, and longer spans give you a general overview of your products’ performance.

After sorting out the products based on time spans, you can use filters to display the exact information you want in the data columns. Keep an eye on KPIs such as Click-through Rate, Cart Abandonment, Profit Per View, Conversion Rate, and Added-to-cart Rate.

Data Management

Select the Right Product Information Management (PIM) System

Of all the practices we have listed in this article, this is definitely the most essential of all. You do not want to pick a PIM system that will hold you back or limit your flexibility.

An effective ecommerce catalog solution enables you to harmonize and centralize all of your product data in one place. 

Here is a list of criteria to look at when choosing a PIM system:

  • Segmentation of product information. You can easily add information and attachments to show your product attributes, be it graphics, sizes, descriptions, stock levels, discounts, or more.
  • Import and export of data. Your catalog management tool should enable you to seamlessly manage all of your product data from multiple sales channels in one place, plus allow you to export it for even more usability.
  • Product catalog personalization. You are able to personalize your product catalog to fit the needs of different customers and display products that are more likely to sell.
  • Product filtering and sorting. You can filter your products to clearly display the data you want to configure.

A high quality product catalog management solution (I.e.PIM system) that encompasses all of the features above and more is the Nosto Catalog Explorer.

The main focus of the Catalog Explorer is maximizing product knowledge to eliminate the guesswork out of your decision making.

You will be able to collect real-time product performance data and leverage it to make decisions about your stocking, discounting, marketing, and exposure strategies. 

Through that, you will build a very solid understanding of your customer base and their patterns of behavior.

Use Real-Time Data to Back up Your Catalog Strategy

Imagine running an ad campaign. 

You put in a lot of effort into setting up your campaign, dedicate a budget, and ponder over a successful advertisement strategy to drive results and make profits.

You are able to track the numbers and demographics of people who click, as well as their behavior throughout your sales funnel.

But you are not exactly sure what to do with that information, and you do not have a system in place to deploy it to make decisions.

That’s where effective catalog management comes in very handy.

Just imagine how efficient it is to monitor your real-time user behavior and have your catalog strategy adjusted based upon your new visitors’ behaviors.

Real-time data monitoring is also helpful in tracking and quickly picking up on new trends in your industry.

For example, if you’re running a campaign for winter clothes, and want to track your real-time campaign performance.

You can start by configuring time to include only the period of the campaign.

Then set up your data table to only show columns for information that interests you most for the ad campaign, and add a tag filter to only show products from the campaign (“winter campaign”).

You can then  sort the products based on performance for every KPI. Say if you want to track which products have the most sales, you can sort them by “Units sold”.

Depending on your goals, you can base your decisions off the table or export the data to save or study extensively on a different tool.

Map Your Product Catalog Management Process

Any business that is dependent on multiple stakeholders can easily get a bit messy when it comes to product catalog management.

Your job as an online store owner is to map out a process for catalog management, in which the roles of every stakeholder are clearly defined.

Proper mapping will enable you to clearly know which party to reach out to when your product catalog needs to be updated.

This is especially important when you urgently need to restock a certain product. 

You will want to reach out to all parties involved in the supply process (photographer, courier, producer, etc.) to get information about their capacity, schedules, and any details you might need to secure a new batch of your desired products.

Balance Your Physical and Digital Catalogs

This is where it gets a little tricky. 

The information you want to emphasize on in your digital catalogs should preferably be different than that in your offline catalogs, given the difference in the nature and environment of the two.

The behavior of customers for the physical catalogs may differ drastically than that for digital catalogs.

Your digital catalog data may serve as a source for detailed insight on customer behavior, while offline catalog information can be used to understand the broader scheme of customer behavior and make snap decisions.

Minimize Risks Related to Inventory Mismanagement

There is never a good choice between understock and overstock. They both can have negative effects on your business.

Overstock leads to unnecessary capital investment, and understock leads to missing out on product sales.

This dilemma has long troubled the ecommerce industry, and online store owners have always worked hard to minimize the risks from inventory mismanagement.

For your luck, with the solutions available for product catalog management today, you can leverage knowledge to draw a good picture of the future of any of your products.

You will be able to know in advance about which products contribute to the most profit, and which run the risk of becoming future deadstock.

In addition, having an all-in-one solution that displays all of your product metrics in one place can help you make stocking decisions even much more efficiently. 

You can easily spot products that need restocking for certain variations, and consequently minimize inventory waste for the other variations that are still in stock.

On the Nosto Catalog Explorer, you can use fast filters to show unavailable products, then configure the columns to display key information on inventory, units sold, days left of inventory, and more.

Provide Customers with Accurate Shopping Data

It is well-known in the ecommerce space that many online stores use fake shopping data to lure buyers into ordering products.

It may be product reviews, stock quantity, current page viewers, and other metrics that can influence buying decisions.

But with time, customers realize the inaccuracy of those data points and end up losing trust in the brand. And it is only reasonable to want to take their business somewhere where they are not lied to.

On the other hand, you can manage your product catalog so well that you can always have accurate data displayed to your customers. 

That will help you to not only gain your buyers’ trust, but also avoid having shipping delays, unhappy customers, and orders over your stock quantities.

3 Catalog Management Mistakes in Ecommerce 200

Choosing the Wrong Catalog Management Tool

This is a mistake many ecommerce store owners make. As mentioned above, you cannot afford to rely on a weak Product Information Management (PIM) System that lacks necessary features for successful catalog management.

You want a PIM system you can rely on to update product catalogs on a regular basis and in a timely manner. 

Whether it is due to a systematic change from above to cover certain limitations, regulations, or taxes, or a market change that requires you to adjust your offering, price, bundling, or other product data. You will need a PIM system that will enable you to make those updates.

Plus, you will want to be able to seamlessly manage, edit and configure data for your products within the same channel or from third parties; meaning you will be able to incorporate existing data without having to go through the manual labor yourself or hiring someone to do the work for you.

Avoid Mismanaging Measurement Units

Due to the involvement of different stakeholders from possibly different countries, or even just outside your company, you might easily slip in the wrong measurements in your system.

Say if you run a clothing line and source your products from China, you may want to know that an S size t-shirt in Europe is not the same size as one in China, but rather is much bigger. The same applies to other measurement units such as shoe sizes.

Making any of the mistakes above may result in losing customers and a wave of refunds that may slow down or even put your business to a halt.

Making Crucial Decisions without Relying on Data

I get it. Sometimes the data is just not good enough, and you want to experiment based on your intuition and your understanding of the market in your industry.

But if you’re well-experienced in ecommerce ad management, you probably know that nothing beats data.

In fact, data does not always make sense, but it damn sure converts when deployed wisely into your marketing and decision making.

You can leverage your data to create product catalogs that resonate with customers and push for more sales and higher average order values.

You can accomplish this using the revenue generation best practices we’ve enlisted above: sniping profitable products, upselling and cross-selling, and building lucrative exposure strategies. We recommend using Nosto’s Dashboard & Analytics to keep track of your overall site metrics and campaign performance. You can use those metrics in conjunction with the insights you gain from Catalog Explorer to make data-driven decisions.

Want one-on-one guidance to set up your ecommerce product catalog? 

Contact your Customer Success Manager. 

Not a Nosto customer? Request a demo with one of our ecommerce experts now and discover first-hand how you can leverage product catalogs to get more sales.

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