You may have an attractive website, lots of informative blogs and articles, amazing visual content including videos about your brand and much more in terms of customer-facing brand content. But the product catalogs (also known as product feeds or catalog feeds) are probably the most important customer-facing content out there. (When we say product catalogs, we are referring to digital or online product catalogs and not the printed, physical ones)
After all, product catalogs are what attracts customer attention in a highly competitive market, engages customers and helps them decide whether or not to purchase your product. It has a direct impact on customer experiences, customer trust and confidence in the brand, brand image, sales and revenues, among others.
To this end, product catalogs need to be cohesive, accurate, engaging and accessible. They must offer the following:
all relevant details about the product including qualitative and quantitative information, features, benefits, styling notes (in case of fashion products), etc.
succinct and engaging descriptions, enabling shoppers to effectively visualize the product and understand how the product adds value to their lives
consistent and accurate product information across all the sales channels, platforms and marketplaces that products are listed on
SEO-optimized product content and deep, intelligent tags to ensure easier searchability and discoverability
user generated content such as reviews to build trust
high-quality, optimized images
personalization based on shopper behaviour
answers to all questions a shopper may have
Product catalogs are equally important tools for internal users and partners. A well-managed and continuously optimized catalog augments marketing efforts and helps improve ROI. When managed using the right tools, it offers deep, actionable insights to help improve the product, marketing initiatives and the catalog itself.
Considering how critical product catalogs are and how they drive business value, how you go about cataloging makes all the difference. This is why you need to think beyond pricing and budgets when it comes to choosing your cataloging partner. What are the important things to look for in a cataloging partner? Keep reading to find out.
Choosing The Right Cataloging Partner: Why Does It Matter?
Product cataloging is the process of aggregating, collating and organizing disparate product data from across multiple sources into one cohesive feed while continuously managing, enriching and optimizing product data and catalogs across multiple touchpoints.
Effective cataloging enables brands to make product information more accessible, searchable and discoverable to shoppers and their larger addressable markets. It brings in greater opportunities for cross-selling and upselling products.
When done properly, product catalog management enables brands to continuously review and update product catalogs. This is important because the market trends, customer behaviours, needs and preference and the overall business landscape are continuously changing. The ability to keep updating and optimizing the product catalogs is critical to keep pace with these changes in an agile fashion.
Effective cataloging also helps to share, retrieve and substitute product information. This helps in minimizing the possibilities of errors, inconsistencies and inaccuracies. This is important because incorrect information erodes customer trust and confidence and the brand image.
So, when you choose the wrong cataloging partner, you run the risk of
poor accuracy rates
poor speed to market
Increase in returns
eroded customer trust and confidence
lost opportunities to attract, convert and engage customers
overloading existing employees with unnecessary QC’s
7 Things Your Cataloging Partner Must Have
#1 A Comprehensive and Agile but Easy to Use Solution
Comprehensiveness: The solution/ platform offered by the cataloging partner must be comprehensive and cohesive, enabling you to perform:
feed ingestion from disparate sources
Efficient feed processing and data normalisation
data enrichment- deep, intelligent product tagging based on all relevant attributes
editorial-quality product content generation
marketplace conversions and feed syndication
Marketplace integrations or upload and rejection management
Discount management etc
If the solution is not comprehensive, you will have to find and integrate other solutions for performing each of these activities. This will not only be costly but also highly inefficient, inconsistent and wasteful, requiring too much manual intervention.
Seamless Data Management: To create product catalogs, brands need to collate data from across multiple, siloed sources such as manufacturing units, vendors, partners, marketing teams, content providers, photographers and so on. Brands simply cannot just catalog once and leave the catalogs as-is; it needs to be continuously updated.
Unless the solution offers seamless data management capabilities, cataloging will be inaccurate, incomplete and outdated. The solution must provide a centralized dashboard to view, monitor and manage data from across disparate sources in one place, creating a single source of truth. It must make data enrichment effortless too.
Accommodating Complexities: Cataloging has multiple levels of complexities. Here are a few of these complexities:
Data sources keep expanding and it is imperative that these sources are correctly identified and added.
There is a growing number of channels and touchpoints for brands to list their products on.
The specifications, taxonomies and requirements to publish catalogs on these channels keep evolving.
The business needs, the market trends, customer behaviors and everything else is evolving at a rapid pace too, which means the product catalogs must be agile and keep pace with the changes.
The data sets could by themselves be complex with several variants and products with parent-child relationships.
The cataloging solution/ platform offered by your partner must be agile and well-equipped to accommodate the complexities of your cataloging and data management needs. Else, you will not be able to generate business value from cataloging.
Ease of Use: Such a solution/ platform must also be easy to use, whether or not teams have technical, coding or programming knowledge. The interface must be clear, simple and hassle-free where a majority of processes should get done with a few clicks. Only then will the solution get employee buy-ins. When such solutions/ platforms are complex and/or require technical expertise to effectively leverage, then brands will have to hire extra technical personnel or increase the burden of existing employees.
One of the key considerations to make while choosing a cataloging partner is accuracy. Their solution must offer not just the highest levels of accuracy but enable you to keep improving the levels of accuracy of your product catalog. Why is this important?
Because even minor errors such as typos and spelling mistakes reflect poorly on the brand while adversely impacting customer trust. Inconsistencies in product listings across different platforms erode the customer experience and brand image, reducing engagements and conversions. Plagiarism in product content leads to negative SEO and lowering of search rankings. Inaccurate, incomplete product information leads to higher product returns, refunds and losses to the brand.
So, instead of relying on error-prone manual methods or rudimentary technologies, the solution must be intelligently automated to minimize the possibilities of spelling and grammatical mistakes, listing errors, inaccuracies, inconsistencies, etc. The cataloging partner should also provide quick QC tests to help you finetune the product catalog.
Even if the solution is automated, it must offer a layer of manual intervention to make any relevant changes since no technology is 100% accurate all the time. The use of self-learning AI helps the solution to keep learning and improving accuracy rates overtime.
Another important aspect to consider while choosing your cataloging partner is scalability. The solution must grow with your business, accommodating the growing needs and complexities of your product catalog and the business itself.
#4 Domain and Technical Expertise
It is critical that your cataloging partner has strong domain expertise. It is only when they have experience of working in the industry and robust, up-to-date domain intelligence will they be able to understand the unique cataloging needs, challenges and contexts of the industry. They will know the nitty-gritties of industry best practices, frameworks, trends and compliance requirements. And this will reflect on the solutions they build.
Strong technical expertise of the cataloging partner will ensure that solutions are agile, reliable, secure and in line with the changing needs of the digital landscape and the regulatory environment. For instance, a service provider with technical expertise will build lightweight, high-performing and reliable solutions that leverage APIs, rather than rely on monolithic applications and outdated software.
#5 Technology Used
It is important to consider the technology used by the cataloging service provider in building the solution. Several vendors tend to package rudimentary technology into cataloging solutions. These will add several layers of manual intervention, leading to a waste of time, energy and resources. Further, owing to the rudimentary and manual methods, the levels of inaccuracy are high while agility and scalability are limited.
It is critical for brands to choose agile, tech-forward cataloging partners who leverage the best-in-breed, advanced technology to build solutions. They must leverage human-augmented intelligent automation, self-learning AI, deep analytics, computer vision and cloud computing, among others to ensure that the solution is flexible, scalable, accurate, quick and agile while being super easy to use.
The solution must enable you to customize feeds, recommendations, etc. at scale to attract and engage different buyer personas. Further, they must engage in continuous research and keep improving the solution.
#6 Multichannel eCommerce
We live in the multichannel era of eCommerce where brands need to have an active presence across all channels, platforms and marketplaces that their target audiences are and their customers prefer. Just listing products on their own brand website or app alone will not rake in the revenues.
But listing product feeds across these diverse platforms has its own challenges. Each of these channels and marketplaces have unique and constantly changing templates, taxonomies, specifications and needs. And this requires the efforts of marketplace specialists who are hard to find and have attrition rates.
Not just that, even minor errors in the listing will lead to rejection by marketplaces/ platforms and you will have to spend lots of time, money and efforts on correcting the mistakes, before they can resubmit their listing. This negatively impacts the speed to market and business outcomes.
This is why you must evaluate how easy it is to add new channels and syndicate product feeds to multiple platforms with the cataloging solution. Make sure that the cataloging partner uses the latest in technology and not rudimentary or manual methods for cataloging.
The solution must make it so simple to create custom product feeds and list them on multiple platforms that even a non-technical professional should be able to do it without the need for marketplace specialists. The solution must make it easy to add new channels. This way, you can improve accuracy, efficiency and speed to market of your product catalogs, thus, driving competitive advantages.
#7 Nature and Quality of Support
It goes without saying that you must evaluate the nature and quality of support offered by the cataloging partner. Few questions to ask:
How quickly do they resolve queries?
How detailed and useful is the documentation?
What kind of technical and customer support is offered?
Are there hidden costs?
How Does Catalogix Help?
Catalogix is a comprehensive, end-to-end, AI-powered cataloging solution that is custom-built for the fashion industry. It empowers fashion users such as retailers, merchandisers, e-commerce companies, D2C brands and so on in the multichannel e-commerce landscape, with or without technical and programming knowledge and skills, to effortlessly create, syndicate and manage product catalogs.
Using the single, cohesive dashboard offered by Catalogix, fashion experts can:
Create and centrally manage product feeds
Convert product images into product catalogs with deep, intelligent tags and relevant product content
Syndicate product catalogs to multiple, new sales channels and platforms with fewer rejections and accelerated speed to market
Generate rich, editorial-quality product content such as catchy titles, styling notes, highlights, etc. without engaging in laborious and time-consuming manual tasks
Create style-based recommendations and collections
Improve the searchability and discoverability of product catalogs through SEO optimization and product tagging
Optimize photoshoot images to meet the specifications of multiple marketplaces and channels
Integrate end-to-end cataloging and feed syndication with other enterprise solutions such as WMS, PIMS, OMS, ERP, CRM, etc.
Engage in data enrichment, geo-optimization of product feeds, etc.
High-quality, relevant and accurate product catalogs act as your salesperson in the online shopping space, offering all necessary information on how the product adds value and coaxing customers to purchase your product. By choosing a cataloging partner like Catalogix, you can go from image to compelling product content and accurate listing in a matter of hours rather than weeks and months, thus driving competitive advantages.
Want to know how Catalogix can add value to your fashion business? Get in touch now.