What To Look for When Identifying a Cataloging Partner?
Most businesses solely consider the pricing while choosing their cataloging partner or for that matter, any tech partner. Though a crucial consideration, pricing should not be the only factor to consider when choosing a cataloging partner. Cataloging, when done right, is a powerful tool to drive competitive advantages and immense value to businesses. And the right cataloging partner can help you do just that. In this article, we delve into top features and capabilities to consider and some questions to ask potential cataloging partners, helping you make the right choice.
Why Bother with Cataloging?
What is Cataloging?
Online product catalogs are perhaps the most crucial business asset in the current multichannel eCommerce landscape. They bring together all relevant product information to a single place, improving product visualization and influencing customers’ purchase decisions.
Cataloging is the process of creating these product catalogs by collating and organizing product data from diverse sources while managing, enriching and optimizing product catalogs across multiple channels, platforms and touchpoints. Effective cataloging helps build accurate, relevant, cohesive and engaging product catalogs that are updatable and easily manageable.
Why Do You Need Cataloging?
Effective cataloging drives value for eCommerce brands in the following ways:
- Accelerated speed to market of product listings, regardless of the scale and complexity of the product information and attributes.
- Consistent product information across multiple platforms with minimal to no spelling/grammatical errors, inaccuracies and inconsistencies that can erode brand trust and credibility among customers
- Reaching a wider audience by seamlessly
- adding newer sales channels and customer touchpoints
- optimizing product information for different channels
- Greater customization and personalization of product information, offers and deals through integration with other enterprise solutions such as ERP, CRM, pricing engines, etc.
- Easier categorization and deep product attribution to improve discoverability and searchability
- Boost sales, cross-selling and upselling through personalized recommendations and complete control over pricing, inventory, etc.
- Freeing up bandwidth of sales and marketing teams who can focus on their core activities rather than spending majority of their time in finding, retrieving and sharing data across teams and with customers.
- Improves overall user experiences by reducing frictions and inefficiencies involved in finding and buying products in any platform/ channel of their choosing
- Eliminates guesswork from sales by equipping your sales reps with centralized access to latest product information and real-time insights on inventory, pricing, etc. to perform their tasks more efficiently
- Offers real-time, actionable insights, key metrics, etc. from product catalogs to drive data-enabled decision-making
Best Practices for Product Cataloging
Identifying The Right Cataloging Is Critical
Why Is It Important to Choose the Right Cataloging Partner?
Cataloging is a crucial part of multichannel eCommerce today and holds the power to drive extraordinary value at scale for businesses. When businesses choose the wrong cataloging partner, you will not have a reliable catalog management solution that drives value, and your investment would simply be wasted.
Further, you may end up with a solution that does not offer all necessary features or something that involves lots of manual work or one that is not agile and adaptive. So, you may end up adding more complexity to cataloging instead of adding agility, accuracy and flexibility into the process.
If you want to drive competitive advantages for your eCommerce business in the fast-paced omnichannel landscape, choosing the right cataloging partner is critical.
What To Look for In Your Cataloging Partner?
Ease Of Use
One of the top features to consider when choosing a cataloging partner is to evaluate the ease-of-use and simplicity of their platform and solutions. If their software/ cloud-based solution/ platform is hard to use or has a complex interface, then you will have to hire extra technical personnel to carry out cataloging or increase the existing employees’ burden. You will find it difficult to get employee buy-ins with fewer employees using the platform/ solution and leveraging its benefits.
While the solution or platform must seamlessly solve complex cataloging challenges, its user interface needs to be simple, straightforward and user friendly. The cataloging partner must leverage intelligent automation, self-learning systems and so on to automate a majority of the processes and enable users to get tasks done accurately in a few clicks.
Ease Of Data Management
Cataloging isn’t just about putting together a digital product catalog once and leaving it as-is. The data sources keep expanding, the channels on which these catalogs get published keep expanding, platform specifications and taxonomies keep evolving and so do business needs. Further, you may be dealing with complex data sets with several variants and products with parent-child relationships. So, the catalog data and feeds management solution need to accommodate these complexities and help you gain more value.
The cataloging service provider’s solution must enable you to seamlessly manage your product data from one cohesive, centralized dashboard. It should help you effortlessly import data from multiple, siloed sources such as manufacturing units, contracted photographers, vendors, partners, content providers, etc. and continuously look for new data sources.
It must also expedite and simplify data enrichment and distribution to newer channels.
How Does It Work in Multichannel eCommerce?
In the multichannel eCommerce landscape, a well-designed website and/or app is simply not enough. Brands need to be present and active on different platforms, channels and marketplaces that customers prefer. But given the varying requirements, templates and taxonomies of different channels, platforms and marketplaces, cataloging for multichannel retail is challenging.
It takes weeks and services of marketplace specialists to create and syndicate product feeds using manual and rudimentary methods. There is also a high risk of inaccuracies and thereon, marketplace rejections. This erodes the speed to market. So, the cataloging service provider must make it seamless and efficient to keep adding more channels.
With service providers like catalogix.ai, you need to create your product catalog just once. With just a few clicks, you can create custom feeds and syndicate them to multiple channels with just a few clicks.
What Technology is Used?
It is a best practice for cataloging service providers to leverage the best-in-breed technology for cataloging and feed management. They must use a combination of automation, artificial intelligence, self-learning systems, computer vision, cloud computing, analytics and so on.
This way, they can ensure greater speed to market, accuracy, efficiency, agility and flexibility. Not just that, you can engage in cataloging without adding more marketplace specialists and IT experts into your team.
Do You Need Programming/ Technical Knowledge to Use the Platform?
This is an important consideration since it will affect the adoption of the platform. If the cataloging solution/ platform does not require programming or technical knowledge, anyone in your team can use the solution by themselves. This is especially important for small and medium businesses that may not have in-house resources/ expertise to effectively use the platform.
If the service provider advertises the solution as a self-service product, make sure that it can be used by any member of your team, regardless of their level of technical knowledge.
How Cohesive and Comprehensive Is the Solution? Do You Need Separate Solutions for Image Management, Feed Syndication, Content Creation, etc.?
The solution offered by the service provider must be cohesive and comprehensive. Look for solutions/ cataloging platforms that enable you to perform everything from feed ingestion, data processing, image management, optimized and succinct product content creation to catalog management, feed syndication, marketplace conversions, KPI analysis and so on in one cohesive platform. This way, you can eliminate the inefficiencies and costs involved in using multiple software and platforms to perform functions.
Is The Solution Industry-Specific?
It is yet another cataloging best practice to find service providers who are well-versed with your domain/ industry. This way, they will understand your unique pain points, industry best practices and frameworks, emerging trends and industry-specific needs. And this will reflect in their cataloging solutions.
For instance, catalogix.ai is built for the fashion industry, to solve the specific cataloging challenges faced by fashion retailers, merchandizers, stylists, designers, D2C brands, eCommerce businesses and so on. Using the platform, fashion users (with or without technical/ programming knowledge) can
- convert their images into product catalogs with deep, intelligent tags
- generate rich product content including styling notes without the need to employ too many hours of manual labor
- create and manage product feeds centrally
- syndicate their product feeds to multiple sales channels
- create style-based recommendations and collections
- and even build their own websites with catalogix.ai
How Scalable Are the Solutions?
It goes without saying that the cataloging service provider must offer solutions that grow with your business. Whether you need to generate tailored product content for different platforms/ different customer segments or add new complex products to your listing or optimize your content for in-demand keywords and search terms, the solution must be able to handle it.
Service providers who use manual or rudimentary methods for cataloging may not be able to meet your need for speed, agility and scale. Choose service providers who are tech-forward and are constantly improving their solutions.
How Easy Is It to Integrate Other Solutions?
Choose service providers who enable easy integrations with any other services, platforms or software you may be using such as PIM, OMS, WMS, pricing engines, recommendation engines, CRM, ERP, etc. This helps in eliminating siloes within your organization and ensures that your teams have a single source of truth.
How Does QA Testing Work?
While automated content generation, deep tagging and cataloging are necessary, the service provider must provide a layer of manual intervention that includes QA testing. This way, you can finetune the content, add personal touches and remove any inaccuracies or errors that may have been missed by the system.
Ease Of Collaboration
Lastly, the cataloging solution must offer a cohesive, centralized platform where all your teams can effortlessly collaborate.
Effective cataloging is necessary to create and manage product catalogs that drive business success. So, you must think beyond pricing while choosing your cataloging partner.