E-commerce product catalog management: best practices

Managing your product catalog effectively is more important than you think.

Among other reasons, it ensures that your products will:

  • Always be up to date in terms of stock (which prevents errors).
  • Be found easily.
  • Include all the necessary information for users to make a purchase decision.

However, it’s something most people overlook, despite being a decisive factor in terms of shops increasing their overall conversion rate.

Sound familiar?

Worry not, because this post will give you some tips to optimize your catalog so you can get the most out of it.

Sounds even better, right?

Well, read on – the show’s about to start. 😉

👉 What product catalog management is and why it’s so important

Let’s start with the basics.

A product catalog is simply the relation between all the items sold by an e‑commerce. Therefore:

Catalog product management refers to the whole process of managing, categorizing, and presenting the items your e‑commerce sells.

On its own, this definition may not be too informative, so here’s a practical example.

Imagine you own a physical clothes store with an online version. But not only that, you sell your products on eBay too. So…

What would happen if your last T‑shirt was sold on eBay?

  • Your stock should also be updated and show that the product ran out.
  • You should show a warning telling them that the T‑shirt isn’t available in your physical store.

You’re starting to see why this is so important, right?

But this isn’t just about your stock.

Product catalog management also has to do with proper coordination in terms of:

  • Prices
  • Offers
  • Up-to-date information of every item

Can you imagine doing that with every single product? And not only on one platform, but on every single one you use to sell them…

It’d be both energy and time-consuming.

And, as it turns out…

✅ Good catalog management = more sales

Everything we’ve seen so far results in a positive customer experience.

Not sure what they have to do with one another?

  • It instills confidence: A good catalog must be clear and detailed as well as provide users with all the information they need to make the right purchase decision.
  • It’s navigable: The catalog’s so well organized that users easily find what they’re after.
  • There are no stock failures: No one likes to buy something to then learn there’s been an error and that there’s no more availability. Of course, customers get a refund, but they’re not likely to keep shopping from your store.

So, if your catalog:

  • Builds credibility
  • Makes the purchasing process easier
  • Is up to date

Your chances of selling will increase significantly.

So let’s see how your catalog can be optimized.

👉 4 simple tips to improve your catalog management

While it may sound complicated, in order to manage your catalog effectively, you just need to keep things straight, have the right tools, and be a bit organized.

And if you also follow our advice, all the better.

Let’s get to it! 😉

✅ 1. Choose the right catalog management tool for you

Not all businesses are the same.

Consequently, not all catalogs are to be managed equally.

To choose the right management tool, you need to keep both your catalog’s current size and your plans for the future in mind.

Is your store big or small?

Are you going to launch more products?

Do you expect your store to grow in a relatively short amount of time?

Depending on what your needs are, you can opt for:

  • Your CMS catalog: Most e-commerce platforms allow you to configure your catalog directly from the dashboard.
  • A PIM: PIM stands for Product Information Manager; that is, a slightly more advanced tool that displays all your product information in the same place. In other words, this tool allows you to edit a product card and apply those changes to all your sales channels. If you have a long catalog, your prices often fluctuate, you use various sales platforms, or deliver overseas, you should definitely have a PIM, as it will make everything much easier and prevent potential errors.

And if your business is small or just getting started, you can also resort to the renowned Excel spreadsheets.

Although simpler, they’re still a practical resource where your list of products – and all your categories, prices, stock, etc. – can be kept.

✅ 2. Tag and categorize your catalog properly

A shop with no categories or tags is like one of those street market stalls where clothes pile up haphazardly.

Can you imagine that with an online store?

It’d be chaos and your clients would run away from that hot mess.

To prevent this, keep your catalog organized with:

  • Categories: They’re like product “families” that group those that have similar features. For example, in a clothes store, we’d find categories such as menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, etc.  
  • Subcategories: They’re groups of products – within categories – that feature similar traits. Back to the clothes shop example, some possible subcategories would be shirts, trousers, or jackets.
  • Tags: Each product can be further classified according to different criteria, including color, material, size, etc.

By categorizing and tagging your products, you’ll make your catalog much more navigable. Thus, users will be free to move around categories and subcategories and use filters to further refine the search.

Take a look at how they do it at Superdry.

Thanks to their product categorization, navigation is quite straightforward, so users can easily find whatever they’re looking for.

ecommerce-gestion-catalogo

But let’s dig a bit deeper.

If you want to make it even better, bear in mind the user behavior when you’re creating your categories and tags.

What does that mean?

Suppose you have a sportswear store and your clients prefer to search for products based on the sport they play rather than the type of item. If that’s the case, you should grant this and create categories including all products for each particular sport.

✅ 3. The search engine: a key element for your catalog to be more manageable

Check out these figures from this study on internal site searches by the Baymard Institute.

61% of websites don’t understand searches that don’t use the exact name of the product.

For example, if users type “multifunction printer” but the website’s product is registered as “all-in-one printer”, the average search engine won’t see the connection between these synonymous terms and, therefore, won’t return any results.

But wait – there’s even more!

27% of internal search engines don’t understand what users are looking for if the search term includes a typo.

This makes it much harder for users to navigate through your catalog.

But both situations can be easily sorted with Doofinder, a smart search engine that recognizes synonyms and typos, and that offers relevant results.

It also features the autocomplete function, which suggests products as users type their search.

In this example from a store using Doofinder, you can see how results appear simultaneously with the typing.

ecommerce-gestion-catalogo-productos

As we said earlier, the easier it is for users to navigate through your catalog and find products, the more your sales will increase.

As it turns out, Doofinder can increase your shop’s conversion by 20%.

Sounds good, right?

Well, here’s a 30-day free trial so you can see for yourself. 😉

✅ 4. Give detailed and accurate information about your products

No one buys a product unless they’re sure it’s going to be useful (although, if it’s really cheap, they may not mind trying their luck).

That means that the more information customers have about the product, the more likely they are to buy it.

In other words, providing users with accurate information will instill confidence in them and prevent sales objections.

What kind of information is a must when it comes to your product cards?

  • Advantages: How will your product change the lives of your customers? No one buys a 5 mm drill bit for its size, but for the shelf they’ll be able to set up thanks to it (which will also provide them with a sense of order and satisfaction).
  • Technical characteristics: Every detail concerning the product’s size, its composition, qualities, etc. Remember, advantages sell, but characteristics justify the purchase.
  • Quality images: They must be appealing and give an accurate picture of the product. Don’t go cheap on the number of images you upload as they will give users an idea of the product they’re about to purchase – almost as if they were in front of a shopping window. Mind you, they should all be optimized.
  • Use videos: Show the product in detail and how it works. This always adds extra value to your products.
  • Instructions and usage tips: They will save you from usage‑related objections about how complicated your products seem.
  • Recommendations: Reviews and comments from other users are crucial for users to make up their mind.
  • Price: It must be easy to spot. Don’t forget to highlight if it’s discounted. And don’t forget your shipping costs. If you have them, they shouldn’t appear on the checkout page. This will make users feel they’ve been fooled and they’ll most likely abandon their cart (the same holds for taxes).
  • Warranty: Another trust-building factor for clients, as they’re assured they’ll be able to return a product if they’re not content with it. Your customers may not know that a product has a warranty, so don’t take it for granted and make it widely visible.  

Lastly, make sure the information is up to date and consistent throughout all of your sales channels.

Decathlon is a good example of how to offer clear, concise, and detailed information.

ecommerce-products-catalog-management

Not only does it give you a 360º view but also access to videos and detailed technical information (traction, flexibility, grip, etc.).

In short, they give you all the information you need to make the right choice.

gestion-catalogo-productos

👉 Optimize your product catalog following these tips and get ready to sell!

Even if it seems like a lot of hard work (which it is), don’t forget that every second invested in managing the product catalog of your e‑commerce will eventually pay off.

With this in mind, don’t make the mistake of neglecting your catalog or you’re sure to regret it in the future.

So get to work and watch as your sales start to increase. 😉

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