As competition becomes rife across different verticals, manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and distributors need to fast-track the pace at which they introduce new catalogs that showcase their products and services to consumers. Catalogs play an important role in reaching out to potential customers and making key product information available to them. Catalog management, updating, maintenance, conversion and data indexing, whether for online use or for offline database or inventory management, are time-consuming processes that can divert your employees from pursuing mission-critical objectives.
Depending on the type of products you sell and where you sell them, some merchants have to continuously update their SKUs.
This could be because of constant price changes, listing newly available products, or other various reasons. Without proper management, this can be a real hassle for merchants.
Every day, you could spend a significant amount of time fine-tuning your items so that you can list them. This is time taken away from other important tasks such as marketing, operations, and your customers.
Any merchant who sells in 2 to 3 channels can usually agree that one of their biggest challenges is listing their products simultaneously. If you sell on your eCommerce site, Amazon, and eBay, listing your product is complicated. It's even more complicated if you sell on multiple branded sites.
The challenge is that each channel has its own requirements for how your product must be listed. Amazon's product categories are different from eBay's. How you list your product on Amazon shouldn't be how you list your item on your own site.
Merchants shouldn't list their product the same way on Amazon, eBay, and your site. When you do, you usually end up leaving product listings incomplete or confusing. Your products could not even be listed in the right place.
Working with product data from 3rd-parties, such as suppliers, also poses a challenge for merchants. Suppliers often hand over product data over to merchants that has bare minimum information. Several product attributes probably aren't included.
The little information that they do provide is also probably in the wrong format. You might always spell color green as "GRN", but the supplier spells it "gn." Suppliers don't sell directly to consumers. They don't need to standardize their product information the same way that you do.
These are nuisances that you're going to have to fix before you can thinking about publishing product listings. Having to clean this data up can take weeks for some companies.
There are three main types of product line expansion. You can add new versions of existing products, provide upgrades to existing products or add brand new products. But just because you think it is necessary to expand, doesn't mean it is viable. Let's first look at what benefits and drawbacks there are to product line expansion.
You could potentially attract a new market with unique needs that want to buy your expanded product line but only if your research is done effectively. A new market can easily increase profitability as a direct results of having a bigger segment of the market, which is a definite benefit.
Many of the previous challenges we talked about above affect the quality of your data. It's hard to maintain data when expanding your catalog, working with suppliers, and publishing on multiple sales channels.
Your products can end up having misspelling, missing information, and just plain wrong descriptions or attributes. When you're managing large amounts of SKUs in Excel or your eCommerce platform, it can be overwhelming to establish and maintain a consistent standard.
Excel wasn't built for eCommerce catalog management. You aren't going to have the robust tools you need to update your product data. You'll only have your employees to rely on to make mass updates and changes, which can easily lead to human error.
Many eCommerce merchants don't have a centralized place where they can view and manage all of their product data.
They might have multiple spreadsheets floating around different departments of the company. Their eCommerce products might live only in their eCommerce platform, while brick-and-mortar product data lives in Excel or a POS system.
Without a designated place to centralize this data, merchants struggle to have a single-view of their product data. This leads to data quality problems and ease of listing the same products across multiple channels.
Customers today have high expectations for product information. They demand accurate, high-quality product information that gives them the detail they need about your product.
To meet this need, merchants have to spend a lot of time merchandising, or making their product data customer-ready. They have to enhance their products with multiple attributes, worry about re-pricing, and provide detailed descriptions.
This is challenge for retailers , especially if they are working with data from multiple sources like suppliers. They have to have a rigorous process for updating and enhancing product data to make it customer-ready.