Catalog Management Software adoption is rising. The market is set to grow by $432 million during 2020-2024. Considering the relationship between the ecommerce industry and the critical need for intuitive organization tools, it only makes sense. As online retail evolves, so does the capacity for a catalog management software. It’s the key to improving product data and content quality.

Catalog management software facilitates the editing and enhancement of product details.

It showcases information in a way to help buyers make a decision. Similarly, product information management software (PIM) empowers teams with tools, best practices, and concepts to organize, maintain, and export content to various sales channels.

PIM is basically synonymous with catalog management software. PIM software doubles as a tool for centralizing product data and a cloud-based product catalog itself. In many cases, a PIM can even create digital catalogs in PDF form or help in publishing print catalogs. So a PIM can act as a catalog management software, but not the other way around.

So what makes a robust catalog management tool in 2020 today? In the following post, we break down the top trends in the evolution of catalog management software. 

1. Now Essential for Remote-Work Productivity

As a result of COVID-19, most organizations are working remotely. Even before the pandemic, remote work had been growing rapidly, with a 159% increase between 2005 and 2017. To meet the needs of remote teams, cloud-based catalog management software has become essential. The shift from print to digital catalogs occurred alongside the shift from on-site to remote work.

People on a Video Call working remotely catalog management software

Why is cloud-based catalog management software necessary for remote work?

For any organization, a secure way of storing and deploying product data is critical. Lacking security for your catalog could lead to file theft, at worst. For instance, Uber’s Cornershop reportedly stole and used grocery shopping app Instacart’s product catalog images. To avoid a situation like this, cloud-based software offers a secure solution. Only authorized users can access the digital catalog, no matter where they are working.

A few decades ago, remote work in the ecommerce industry would be fairly difficult, if not impossible. Even a decade ago, when ecommerce was beginning to boom and more SaaS solutions were entering the market, remote work was unheard of as the norm. The largest challenges to remote work would have been mismanagement, lack of organization, and slow communication. Catalog management software targets these issues to make the marketing process easier for teams. A solution like this has sped up the adoption of remote work.

How does catalog management software streamline remote work?

Working in an ecommerce organization is already complex. Be it small or large, any business has many departments. As such, all teams must work together to produce amazing results. 

The marketing team alone has a lot on their plate. They are responsible for turning product data into winning content. When working remotely, the marketing team members, as well as other departments, must be on the same page. Otherwise, the organization risks inconsistent brand messaging.

To solve this, a catalog management software tool provides the following features:

  • Improve data management
  • Identify gaps in the content
  • Publish product content to multiple platforms

A cloud-based catalog management tool will do all of this while maintaining collaboration. Let’s discuss each feature a bit more to understand its specific implications on successful remote work.

Improving Data Management

A catalog management software will address all things data. The solution addresses the challenges of working remotely. Haphazardly organized product data and files will no longer be an issue. A cloud-based catalog software will make all product data available to all remote teams. All data is unified, consistent, and up-to-date across all users’ interface.

Identifying Gaps in the Content

Inaccuracies and missing data is a major problem when working remotely. Ecommerce organizations can suffer from publishing unseen errors. Missing product information has a defining impact on customer satisfaction, reviews, and product returns. To avoid these lapses in content quality, a catalog management software today must support content completeness assessment. That way, remote teams can address missing content immediately.

Publishing Content to Multiple Platforms 

Once remote marketing teams are ready to send out content, catalog management software makes the syndication process easy. Everything is already centralized on the interface. Thus, once validated and quality is ensured, they can directly syndicate to the desired channels. Be it an organization’s own website or other retailers. The software will publish consistent, up-to-date data and marketing content across all platforms.

2. Catalog Management Software Delivers ROI for Small Businesses

In the past, catalog management software tailored to larger businesses. With a high number of products or a high SKU count, it makes sense to implement a software to organize it all. However, organizations with a lower SKU quantity may have hesitated before investing in a long-term catalog management software… At least, not until more products are added.

Now, the environment has changed. We are finding that even smaller businesses can receive a substantial return-on-investment with catalog management software in 2020. Even organizations with a few hundred products are utilizing and benefiting from a catalog management software. 

Why is catalog management software beneficial for smaller organizations? 

When understanding this major trend, it’s important to recognize the context. The current state of ecommerce is poles apart from a few years ago. Today, online retail has grown to create opportunities to sell on multiple channels. 

What does this mean regarding smaller organizations? Essentially, any business can sell on a plethora of channels no matter their SKU count. As a result, catalog management software is applicable to small businesses selling in many online spaces.

Catalog management software helps organizations with fewer SKUs address two challenges:

  1. Organizing product data
  2. Syndicating product content to multiple channels

No matter what size an organization is, there will always be obstacles. Particularly, when it comes to data organization and syndication. For example, it’s rare to find a business that hasn’t struggled with disorderly product information. Publishing on many channels manually without a management system is chaotic. Regardless of SKU count, it’s important to improve the organization and process of sending your product data right from the start.

A catalog management software addresses both challenges. That’s what its core principles are all about: Centralization and Multichannel Syndication. 

Centralization 

Despite a smaller SKU count, a business needs an efficient, automatic way of managing product data. 

Traditionally, organizations have used spreadsheets and folders full to the brim of files. After all, each product comes with a heavy amount of baggage. Long lists of product attributes. All forms of content that various disparate files contain. From product description and copywriting to photography and other digital assets, product managers and marketing teams struggle to keep up with it all. Understandably, the lack of unification can lead to inefficiency.

Fortunately, small businesses can completely avoid any of the costs of manual management. By centralizing all product data and content onto one hub, the catalog management software, it eliminates disorganization.

Multichannel Syndication

Smaller organizations may be sending out their product content to multiple channels. That means it can take a lot of manual work, energy, time, and misdirected focus to send out to multiple retailers and marketplaces.
For this, catalog management software is extremely beneficial. Additionally, ensuring that all content is complete is another hurdle to overcome.

With a robust catalog management software, businesses can grow via entering new sales channels. The centralization feature unifies all necessary product data. This already accomplishes half the work. From there, an organization chooses which channels on which to sell. The software tailors content by channel. Thus, this ensures that data remains high-quality and fits each channel’s requirements. 

A catalog management software that does this automatically helps organizations of any size manage time. And while addressing any challenges.

3. eCatalogs Now Promote Sales and Customer Relationships

catalog management software digital catalog

An eCatalog, or digital catalog, is an online or electronic source that captures all products and their descriptions, specs, and pricing information. The demand for digital catalogs by sales teams is a major facet of catalog management software in 2020. The ability to deliver simple digital catalogs to sales and customer service reps is crucial for increasing sales and customer relationships.

The biggest advantage of digital catalogs for these teams is the rapid search capability. In a nutshell, it improves the speed and efficiency of both teams to make more sales and maintain customer satisfaction. However, we can further break down and analyze the benefits of a digital catalog for either team.

A digital catalog helps sales and customer service teams do the following tasks:

  1. Communicate pricing
  2. Share digital assets
  3. Email products specs to customers and prospects

First, let’s discuss why sales teams need digital catalogs.

Why is a digital catalog important for sales reps?

Efficiency is the prelude to success in ecommerce. Sales reps know this well. Since they guide prospective customers through the sales funnel, they understand most that time is money. After all, time is a vital factor in a customer’s journey to the point of sale. 

So when they’re in the middle of calls answering questions about product information, the response time must be rapid, accurate, and up-to-date. Instead, a lot of sales reps waste time searching for products. They go through multiple spreadsheets looking for data across multiple rows and columns. 

Consequently, this slows down the sales process. Time is wasted for both the current customer and the next lead on the list. In fact, for every extra minute that a sales rep spends looking for product information is a minute lost establishing a customer relationship. 

A digital catalog makes it easier for sales reps to find everything that they need. Instead of looking for data in multiple files, sales reps have the digital catalog as their one-stop-shop. Answering a question becomes an open-and-shut case. Consequently, sales reps can pour their efforts into closing the deal.

Why is a digital catalog important for customer service reps?

The customer service team needs product information at their fingertips. With a catalog management system, they have access to accurate information immediately. The following are a few specific cases that show the value of an eCatalog.

Product Installation

Customers calling customer service for help in installing a product want aid fast. The rep has to be able to assist in real-time. 

How many times have you called a customer service line in dire need? Then, realizing you have wait as they search for information, the frustration rises. Sure, most customers are understanding. However, there’s no question that a tricky data retrieval process has long-term impacts on customer relationships. Especially when it comes to setting up a product. 

With a digital catalog, the rep can easily find the specs and installation instructions. From there, they can email that information ASAP.

Replacement Parts

Here’s another example. If an issue arises for a customer, like a product part breaks, they will call customer service to ask about replacing the part. As such, customer service reps have to survey the catalog quickly to find the replacement part. 

Upselling & Cross-selling

Customer service reps have other responsibilities too – like upselling and cross-selling opportunities. A catalog management software, with its organized tagging system, allows for easy finding of similar or related accessories. When a customer calls regarding a specific product, the rep can recommend such products. As such, faster search allows a business to achieve more sales.

In 2020, catalog management software must cater to sales and customer service teams seamlessly. Everything is centralized, which simplifies the digital catalog creation process. Many businesses have found success in dealing with customers. An open-access digital catalog has been able to maximize revenue.

Digital Catalog software

4. Multichannel Support for Increased Revenue

In the past decade, a multitude of sales channels has entered the e-commerce arena. The upsurge in multi-channel e-commerce has caused a dramatic shift in how businesses scale. The benefits of selling on more than one channel have become widespread. After all, many consumers shop across multiple channels.

Multichannel commerce is a two-way street. Marketplaces could not have grown as much as they have without third-party sellers. Today, large marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay are rampant with competition. Therefore, pushing out your product on a variety of marketplaces, retailers, and platforms maximizes brand awareness.

The number of sales channels continues to grow. Recently, large retailers like Walmart and Target have further expanded to offer third-party retail. Both introduced a seller marketplace feature, allowing for more options on which to publish your products. Even Home Depot may be considering adding its own seller platform. Needless to say, catalog management software has to cater to multichannel selling.

How has multichannel affected the evolution of catalog management software?

Before, any low-end catalog management application could pass. In 2020, businesses are more likely to consider choosing software based on its robustness. In other words, the better a catalog management software can support multiple channels, the higher its value.

What are the benefits of using a multi-channel catalog software?

No one is debating the benefit of selling on multiple channels. Selling through third-party retailers and other marketplaces reach a broader audience. Organizations can receive the attention of as many buyer personas as possible. Thus, it boosts the potential for increased revenue.

Using a catalog management software optimizes the syndication process. So sending out products to multiple channels is smooth and error-free. After all, the biggest struggles in scaling lies in the time and effort it requires. Fortunately, businesses that invest in tools like catalog management software have been able to reduce their time to market. 

5. Inclusivity to More Businesses

A few years ago, catalog management software didn’t support just any business model. Truthfully, it really only made sense for organizations that needed to manage a lot of channels. For example, brand manufacturers and distributors were the only two types who required catalog management. To give a short answer, these business types must send product data to many endpoints. 

Today, ecommerce has opened up the opportunity for direct selling. Thus, catalog management software can cater to sellers and direct-to-consumer business as well.

First, we’ll discuss the main business models.

Types of Businesses

Brand Manufacturer

A brand is an organization that manufactures a product. Previously, the main characteristic of a brand was the name or identity. It is a well-known business entity whose products are distinguishable from other similar products, like HP, Coca-Cola, and P&G. Generally, brand manufacturers only sold products, usually wholesale, to a distributor. Then, the distributors would continue the supply chain by selling to wholesalers, retailers, and other sellers. Essentially, brands never sold directly to consumers.

To keep track of all distributors and retail partners, catalog management software was a fitting tool for brands.

Distributors

A distributor follows a business-to-business model. They sell to various wholesalers, retailers, or sellers. A distributor usually buys products from various brand manufacturers in-bulk. Then, they create inventories to sell to retailers. Basically, they are the critical third-party in the supply chain. For distributors, a catalog software is important to manage their numerous partnerships. After all, they receive product data from suppliers and must send it to various channels.

Sellers

A seller is a third-party retailer who buys products from vendors and distributors. Then, they sell them on marketplaces. Usually, they tend to price and market the product themselves. Since usually resell items from a brand manufacturer, this sets them apart from brands.

DTC Organizations 

A DTC (D2C), or direct-to-consumer organization is a business that sells directly to their consumers, without any third-party retailer or liaison between them. Many businesses now have jumped onto DTC channels, even those that never did so before. In other words, a brand manufacturer can now sell directly to consumers – in addition to their other partnerships. A distributor can also open a DTC storefront if they see fit.

With today’s more inclusive catalog management software, organizations can branch out. So these traditionally B2B businesses can now add another stream of revenue by marketing to their consumer base. 

6. Support for More Data Types to Enrich Product Content

With the amount of data necessary for product management today, catalog management software has had to level up. Before, there wasn’t much of a requirement for more than a few data types. Now, businesses want to enrich their product pages and descriptive, customizable data. New types of products and services may need specific attributes. To account for that, catalog management software must allow for a greater variety of data. 

Catalog management software now includes the following data types: 

  • String
  • Integers
  • Decimal
  • Price & currency
  • Picklists
  • Measurement

String: A string is a product attribute that is characterized by words with a character limit.

Integers: Integers are just numbers that signify a product attribute, such as size.

Decimal: This data type encompasses exact numerical variables with a decimal.

Price & Currency: The variable price will refer to an individual product unit’s price, set to a certain currency.

Picklist: Picklists are documents that organizations will send to Warehouse Pickers to fulfill customer orders. They describe what items you will need from the inventory as well as how many products the SKU and location of the warehouse. It is the start of the order fulfillment process.

Measurement: Measurement data is perhaps the most important attribute. Because it converts units from Imperial to metric, it is a defining feature of simpler international e-commerce.

With many data types, there becomes a growing demand to manage specific data requirements. This is called data validation. The catalog management software of 2020 must offer validation rules for each sales channel’s requirements.

Data Validation Support

Robust catalog management software will have detailed data governance tools. This ensures clean data quality. Because of how many channels exist, organizations must cater to each channel’s data requirements. Below, you can see an example of general data validation rules to follow. Some features may vary depending on the channel. However, data like the UPC (Universal Product Code) remains the same everywhere.

  • Product Titles: 100 characters
  • Descriptions: 400 words
  • Bullets: #5
  • UPC: 12 digits

A software has to include channel formatting elements. This will tailor data to the channel, which simplifies data validation. In other words, it formats data to comply with the specific rules of every sales platform. Not only does every data field match up with channel requirements, but fields and variables remain consistent. For example, the same variable name will be displayed across all relevant products, like “gallons” or “each.” 

7. Readiness Reporting for Easy Channel Syndication

A critical trend in catalog management software is the necessary feature of content completeness. And this is one trend that will not be going away anytime soon. 

Over the years, e-commerce businesses have experienced many issues regarding data inaccuracies. Fortunately, centralizing product content can solve many of these errors before publishing product pages. That’s the major benefit of storing all product attributes and marketing content in one hub. Many businesses have found a dramatic reduction in errors. 

However, with how competitive the current environment has become, it’s important not to turn a blind eye to content completion. With a multitude of channels to sell on, as well as SEO considerations, it’s essential for catalog management software to include readiness reporting and content completeness scores. To go further in-depth, we’re seeing a major need for more specific content completion attributes. In other words, each department or team has specific standards for their primary tasks or goals.

Let’s summarize before we discuss each aspect further. In 2020, catalog management software needs to assess content readiness in two areas:

  1. Retailer-specific content
  2. Department-specific content

Content Readiness for Retailers and Sales Channels

How you optimize product attributes, data and content will vary depending on the channel. Product management and catalog management software to tailor content to each one – automatically, once again. With an automated validation process, rest assured that all product specs will comply with distinct retailer load sheet requirements.

What tools improve content readiness?

A CMS has integrated tools to ensure your product content is ready. Before you publish, the software keeps you on track with features like Content Grading and Completeness Scoring. What exactly does each of these do to get product pages ready faster?

Content Grading will literally give a grade to your content based on its quality. This ensures that the content meets the recommended text character and word length. Consequently, it also means that content is enhanced. In other words, it assesses content from an SEO-standpoint as well. 

Completeness scoring will display how far along your product content is. Are there any elements missing? Do you have all tags and keywords filled in? Are titles optimized? Are digital assets linked and tagged properly? Every part of your product page is analyzed to avoid missing any important details before publishing.

How can catalog management software specialize content readiness for each department?

Here are a few examples of how catalog management systems assess content by department. Each area has attributes specific to their tasks on the software.

  • The web team needs a set of attributes to make the product look complete. This team can have its own completeness attribute called “Web Complete”.
  • The supply chain team needs its own set of attributes to fill in the UPC numbers, product dimensions, weights, etc. 
  • The marketing team needs to make sure the title, description, and product features are complete.

8. Rich Digital Asset Support to Propel Engagement

Marketing has evolved, and with it, the need for a rich variety of visuals. As such, catalog management in 2020 is supportive of a wide spectrum of digital assets. For engaging product content, the trend has leaned towards highly enriched digital assets. From video to multiple types of photography, competition has increased the number of options. 

Recognizing the need for businesses to leverage digital assets, catalog management software has risen to the occasion. Considering the cloud-based infrastructure of a CMS, this is perfect for digital asset management. The secure storage system keeps all digital asset files safe and unified. 

Types of Digital Assets:

  • Original Art Files: PSD, AI, etc.
  • Web Images: JPG, PNG, Web 2000
  • PDF Installation Guides, User Manuals & Spec Sheets
  • Spin Photography
  • Videos for In Use or Installation

Support for Digital Asset Tags

Catalog management software applications are capturing a variety of tags for each digital asset. In recent years, there has been increased support for more tags. This includes the keywords and tags not only for search but also for SEO strategy.

A detailed tagging system helps you organize your digital assets. With metadata, digital assets can be categorized by relevant terms. Metadata, or data that informs about other data, essentially describes a file. 

For example, it describes when a photo was taken or uploaded, the file type, the dimensions, and so on. Metadata tagging on a catalog management software makes all files findable. Any user can retrieve desired digital assets based on keywords, or year it was taken, or asset type.

Improve SEO with metadata tagging on catalog management software


Why is support for more digital asset tags important?

There are two major benefits of a robust tagging system:

  1. Searchability
  2. Search Engine Optimization

Product Searchability

The more tagging allowed, the most specific users can get with their searches. It allows for fewer products per search results to easily find products quickly. As a result, all users on the catalog management system can quickly search for specs and data. 

Search Engine Optimization

A robust metadata tagging system makes it easier to boost SEO. With any search query, web crawlers pick out relevant metadata, including that of digital assets. Image optimization is a huge factor in higher search rankings on ecommerce sites and otherwise. Detailed metadata improves SEO for product pages automatically. 

Overall, a catalog management software tool will comprehensively tackle digital asset organization. WIth a rich tagging system, it enables opportunities for high-quality SEO and reduces time, cost, and inefficiency from searching for products on the user’s end.

9. Omnichannel Support (Print & Digital) to Boost Sales

Although digital catalogs have taken the forefront of product information management, print is still an option. With digital, businesses like Pennsylvania’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits can easily expand their catalog to offer more products and order sizes online. 

Businesses still find print catalogs valuable depending on their specific goals. Interestingly, many brands today have gotten attention from revitalizing the usage of print catalogs, like Ikea and H&M. Furthermore, consumers still are spending on catalog purchases – about $850 a year. So don’t be quick to write print collateral off yet. 

Luckily, choosing between digital and print is not necessary. With catalog management software, it’s beneficial to have both capabilities built-in. To see the value in the recent “counter-trend” of print catalogs coming back, let’s look at the types of collateral and when to use them.

Types of Print Collateral

The following are possible forms of print catalog materials that a catalog management software is built to generate.

  1. Catalog
  2. Flyer
  3. Spec sheets
  4. Pricebook

General Catalog

This is a standard, physical publication of product information, usually in book or magazine form. An organization may publish a catalog annually or seasonally. Catalogs tend to be targeted towards an organization’s main buyer persona or audience.

Flyer or Custom Catalog

This sort of catalog is more specific, focused on only a subsection of products. Usually, the focus can be a collection of relevant products to a certain topic. But it can also be about a subject unrelated to the products themselves. For example, don.com published a new COVID-specific catalog regarding keeping their staff and customers safe. 

Spec Sheets for Brand Manufacturers. 

Spec sheets organize all the technical specifications of a single product. Usually, one or two pages, the purpose of a print spec sheet is to completely answer the technical questions a customer has on a specific product. Spec sheets are at the product-level, meaning they focus on a single product at a time. However, they may contain a chart with all the product variations or variants.

Price-books for the Sales Team

A price-book will include up-to-date pricing information of an organization. Recently, price books also have a small picture of the primary product. Price lists are usually at the SKU-level, so they usually hold information about the current inventory.

Why should businesses use print catalogs?

Digital catalogs make things a lot easier for the fast-paced ecommerce environment. However, there remains to be tactile importance in publishing print catalogs or collateral. For one, customers still appreciate the sensory experience of a product catalog or magazine in their hands. 

Nowadays, there is a major trend of bridging the gap between digital and print marketing efforts. Significantly, we are seeing that consumers who browse print catalogs find their way to digital touchpoints to make a purchase. Using both to enhance each other can be a powerful move.

person using catalog management software on phone and laptop

10. Accessible from Multiple Devices for Efficiency

A major trend in catalog management software has been making the interface accessible across different devices. Mobile-friendly technology is critical to all organizations today. 

Usually, we think about mobile-friendliness as important to user experience. Generally, mobile-friendliness is key for searchable, easy to navigate customer-facing apps. In other words, we assume that making an app adaptable to any screen size is more relevant to what customers will see, and not internal teams. 

Rather, behind-the-scenes applications also need to cater to certain use cases or specific instances in which a mobile-friendly interface will improve processes.

In what instances would mobile-friendliness be necessary?

Within a catalog management software, there are many roles that department employees take on. User roles include the following (non-comprehensive) list:

  • Marketing users
  • Designers
  • Supply chain users
  • Dealers
  • Sales reps

Although not all users require mobile access, the feature is incredibly critical for Sales Reps and the Executive Team. Notice – these two user roles are vital to the final steps of the product cycle. Sales teams overlook the process of converting a lead into a customer. The executive team oversees the overall management of product deployment. Let’s take a detailed look into why these teams necessitate a mobile-access use case.

Why is mobile-access important for sales and executive teams? 

Recently, it has become common to find many employees working on mobile. In fact, a great 91% of employees are using smartphones for work-related tasks, even in their free time. Be it remotely, on-site, or after work hours, smartphones have gained traction as a work tool. 

Gone are the days of no-phone policies at work. We see this increased smartphone usage maximizing sales. An efficient catalog management software takes mobile use cases into consideration. That way, it streamlines the work of sales teams. 

Here the main ways that a catalog management software can do that:

  1. Rapid product search
  2. Real-time communication
  3. Workflow and data is unified 

Sales and executives can quickly search and find products in the catalog.

Both external and field sales reps are able to utilize their mobiles to quickly search for products as needed. Sales reps are the drivers of business growth. They fill the gap between your organization’s goals and customers. In other words, they find and guide leads down the critical sales funnel. However, the journey to a successful product purchase relies heavily on efficiency. 

The executive teams will also be on their mobile devices on-the-go or after hours. As the decision-makers, they have to be aware of all updates. Any notification, change, or task waiting for approval on the catalog management software needs to reach them immediately.

Conclusion

Historically, catalogs have had a vital role in driving revenue, both offline and online. We’ve come a long way from the initial mail-order sales catalogs. Yet, aspects of modern ecommerce will still find a way to utilize both print and digital. 

With a strong catalog management system, an organization can speed up a variety of processes, with minimal product content mistakes. Even further, elements of a catalog management software in 2020 will enhance and enrich any digital and eCatalogs, for a better experience on all accounts. It supports more business models, more channel syndication, more ecommerce material, robust digital assets, and product descriptions. At Catsy, our PIM software offers catalog management tools that deliver all the advantages. We work with businesses to streamline product data storage and catalog creation. 

The future of catalog management improves the work of all teams for bigger, better, and faster processes. 

ABOUT CATSY:

Catsy has been providing unique value to the product information industry since 2003, allowing businesses a way to achieve high-quality product content. Our product information management (PIM) software centralizes all product data, so you can manage and share data with internal teams, retailers, and multiple platforms. Revolutionize your business with Catsy’s accuracy, automation, and optimization. To learn more, visit us at https://catsy.com.

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