Product Catalog Optimization: 7 Best Practices

product catalog optimization title graphic

Who can relate to the following online shopping experience?

You’re browsing standing desks for your home office on Amazon. You’ve found the perfect one; it meets all your needs. The majority of customer reviews are positive, but the product information seems incomplete — not to mention the specs don’t appear to match the photo. 

A quick search on the manufacturer’s site might reveal that model number doesn’t exist or is associated with a different product version. It may even show the desk’s been discontinued. But according to the supplier’s site, it’s in stock and appears to be selling well.  

Sound familiar? 

Now you probably wouldn’t purchase that particular standing desk. You may not purchase anything from that supplier and go to a competitor’s site instead.

Providing accurate, comprehensive product information is a significant challenge for online retailers. But when you don’t have an effective ecommerce product catalog management process in place, you lose revenue and customers. 

So how do businesses go about ensuring customers can make informed purchase decisions with confidence?

Through effective product catalog management. 

Let’s explore 7 ways businesses can optimize their e-commerce product so they don’t turn off customers who were otherwise ready to buy.

But first, let’s start with a definition. 

What is Product Catalog Management

Product catalog management is a strategic process that aims to ensure product data is high quality, accurate, organized, and standardized across all sales channels. 

An effective strategy is especially critical for ecommerce retailers that deal with multiple suppliers and sales channels and constantly changing product catalogs. (Looking to go more in depth on ecommerce merchandising strategy? See how to drive more sales here.)

7 Best Practices for Product Catalog Optimization

Here’s seven ways to optimize your product catalog. 

1. Ensure Data Integrity

A retailer that attempts to sell a standing desk with inaccurate or incomplete specs and product information won’t earn the trust of customers, let alone establish themselves as an authority on home office furniture. 

To create a trusted brand, you must ensure your product catalog data is comprehensive, accurate and standardized across each of your sales channels. After all, many consumers expect to be able to make informed purchase decisions based on the information you provide.   

2. Provide a Fantastic User Experience (UX)

Whether you’re selling plumbing fixtures or custom dog beds, it’s important to provide the best UX possible — and it requires a lot more than a great landing page. 79% of visitors will head your competitors’ sites if they can’t find what they’re looking for easily, like, within 10 seconds. 

To create a fantastic user experience you must consider your target user’s intent — customer mindset — and build the shopping experience around it. Here’s what that might involve.

  • Presenting the product catalog as individual product pages with intelligent search and filter functionality 
  • Leveraging interactive wizards to help narrow a search within the product data
  • Providing comprehensive product information so customers don’t have to seek information elsewhere before completing their purchase

3. Optimize Product Descriptions for Customers and SEO

Part of providing a great UX is publishing engaging, useful persuasive content — something few manufacturers are known for creating themselves. Yet retailers often copy their product descriptions in an effort to save time and resources. 

Not only is that considered duplicate content, which can damage your search rankings and resulting traffic, but it represents a missed opportunity to build relationships with customers. 

So transform their language into your own SEO-optimized, engaging content that speaks to your target customers. It will promote more traffic, improve conversions, and keep customers from heading to your competitors.  

4. Promote Cross Selling and Upselling Opportunities

Let’s go back to that search for a standing desk for your home office. Initially, you might have been seeking a stationary model. Instead you decided to go with the “related product” suggested by the retailer — an adjustable height standing desk. 

Retailers that prioritize developing an organized, comprehensive ecommerce product catalog can drive more sales through cross selling and upselling. Here’s a couple examples of how they do it.

  • Search-friendly product tagging: Presents associated products or product alternatives to promote more browsing
  • Tailor-made catalogs: Shows different products to customers based on their needs, region, currency, etc. 

5. Perform Real-time Inventory Management 

As a customer, there’s nothing more frustrating than discovering a particular product is out of stock after you’re already “sold” or worse, after you’ve completed the purchase. 

Leveraging real-time inventory management capabilities together with your ecommerce product catalog can prevent that from happening. Inventory management systems can tell a shopper it’s time to pull the trigger with the gentle nudge of “3 more available” or notify them when an item’s back in stock. 

6. Integrate Catalog Management With Other Systems

Integrating your product catalog into other systems within your technology stack can also improve operations, customer relationships, and drive more revenue. Here are two examples.

  • Enterprise resource planning system (ERP): Improve efficiencies by maintaining product catalogs within your ERP system for automatic updates to product information, inventory levels, etc.  
  • Email service provider (ESP): Increase revenues through triggered messaging based on product catalog data. Applications include order confirmation emails, targeted emails based on past purchase history, and abandoned shopping cart emails (71% of US shoppers do this by the way). 

7. Explore Digital Marketing Tactics

Once you’ve taken steps to optimize your ecommerce product catalog, you can leverage those improvements through dynamic social media ads. They target users based on their previous interactions with your site, reminding them about the products they’ve shown interest in. 

Effective ads, fueled by accurate, comprehensive product information, can drive traffic back to your site and product catalog.

Product Catalog Optimization Depends on Data Integrity 

The process of optimizing your product catalog begins with taking control of your data. Discover how The Data Standards Cloud can make it easy to create data with integrity. 

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