Digital change is happening all around us, and this won’t be slowing down anytime soon. But organizations aren’t going digital just because it’s trendy or their competitors are doing it. Forward-thinking organizations understand that modernizing business operations offers benefits at every stage of a product’s lifecycle. To take advantage of these opportunities, companies are transforming fundamental business tools, such as product catalogs, into digital formats and digital platforms.
Digitizing product catalogs offers both obvious and nuanced benefits. Many business leaders can see the immediate value that can be realized from implementing a digital catalog of products:
- Avoid the costly and time-consuming process of updating, printing, and distributing a print catalog.
- Update products, pricing, availability, imagery, and other details in real time.
- Reduce the need for creating and distributing samples, swatches, color palettes and other tools and accessories that enable the specification and sales process.
- Provide a central location and single source of truth for all product information across business units and for consumers.
- Leverage the data from a digital product catalog to create new sales channels and experiences.
In this article, we will further explore some of the more nuanced ways that digital product catalogs can deliver immediate and long-term value for achieving your organization’s e-commerce objectives.
What Is a Digital Product Catalog?
A digital catalog is a tool that holds crucial data about the products an organization sells. It gives companies, employees, customers, manufacturers, and distributors access to up-to-date and easy-to-use information about product features, descriptions, dimensions, compatibilities, price, colors, materials, and availability. In this article, we are primarily referring to a catalog of product data in digital format and not a consumer-focused e-commerce experience that has a catalog-like interface.
With a digital product catalog in place, the data can be utilized in many different formats. For example, a configurator can use the product data to help customers easily interact with, personalize and purchase products. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, customer relationship management (CRM) tool or other enterprise software can tap into digital product data to drive shorter sales cycles, increase customer satisfaction, and drive higher ROI for complex products.
Why Build a Digital Product Catalog?
Customization and convenience are becoming more and more important in today’s digital landscape. Customers are seeking digital shopping experiences for everything from shoes to appliances to homes. And organizations need to align business models with the needs of customers to be successful.
At the same time, products have more competition, more features, and shorter lifespans. This creates added complexity throughout a product’s value chain. Orders become more prone to errors without up-to-date product data in the hands of everyone across business units. For these reasons and more, digital product catalogs are the backbone of all digital commerce. Before you can even begin to compete in this space, you need a digital product catalog. And if you’re not offering seamless digital experiences for your customers, employees, vendors, and partners, you are missing out on significant opportunities to drive new profits.
Digital Catalogs Drive Efficiency and Growth Throughout the Value Chain
Building a digital catalog provides different benefits to stakeholders at various touchpoints throughout the value chain.
Below, we will discuss the key benefits for different users.
Customers Benefit From a Digital Catalog
First and foremost, implementing a digital product catalog opens up limitless potential for consumer engagement. And this goes beyond simply providing direct-to-consumer (D2C) e-commerce experiences. Creating digital models of products allows customers to personalize and interact with an organization’s brand in engaging ways. For example, if your organization has configurable products, implementing a 3D product configurator or CET extension can help your company connect with consumers and gather data about how users interact with your products. (Configurators leverage technology to present 2D or 3D models that enable consumers to customize a product or a set of products to ensure their needs are met. Consumers can even interact with those products in augmented or virtual reality.)
This user-driven customization process not only creates a flexible and personalized user experience but also allows organizations to offer their full product inventory to customers without needing products or samples physically present at the beginning of the sales process. Using a digital product configurator also has the added benefit of making digital product catalog management less cumbersome for organizations.
A Digital Product Catalog Expedites Your Employees’ Workflows
Making changes to workplace processes, such as removing unnecessary tasks, digitizing solutions, or adding automation, can have a meaningful impact on the way work gets done and how profitable your organization can be. Organizations often fall into ineffective patterns that prevent workflow efficiency simply because “that’s how we’ve always done it.” Since workflows play a critical role in the value chain for every organization, digital catalogs can drive significant efficiencies within and across your business processes.
How? Rather than creating a print catalog or an ever-sprawling number of spreadsheet versions that quickly become outdated and are costly and time-consuming to update or correct, companies can shift to digital solutions that:
- Provide up-to-date and structured product information and inventory
- Facilitate shorter sales cycles
- Streamline backend operations
- Reduce order and fulfillment errors
- Enable teams to identify new revenue opportunities
With complex product information readily available to your customers, sales teams, dealers, and more, your company can reduce clogs and rework within the business cycle and accelerate workflows by creating more efficient processes and eliminating wasted time and money.
Digital Catalogs Help Your Dealers Succeed
To help distinguish themselves from competitors, organizations need to provide exceptional experiences for dealers and designers as well as consumers and employees. Leveraging a digital product catalog allows a steady flow of information between internal and external stakeholders, which empowers everyone who is involved in the selling process.
By giving dealers access to your up-to-date digital product information, you take the guesswork out of the specification and sales process, making it easier for partners to work with your organization. This means companies can effortlessly attract new consumers, deliver fast and simple purchasing experiences via their dealer networks, and receive more product orders. And for suppliers, more orders mean more sales.
A Digital Catalog Expands Your Business’ Visibility and Adaptability
Savvy, innovative companies are continually driving customer-focused change and business growth through data insights. Digital catalogs play an important part in expanding brand visibility for complex products.
Implementing a digital catalog enables companies to target buyers, customize product information, and analyze data. By collecting and evaluating catalog data, organizations can understand how customers interact with products, the features they use, and what user behaviors, products, and features drive the most revenue.
Companies can even collect detailed product specification and usage data to optimize performance, diagnose issues, and create long-term value for consumers. Making sense of complex product data is essential for successful business operations, growth, and innovation and helps validate return on investment. This process of leveraging data and reporting also improves customer service and satisfaction for your brands and ultimately helps identify new marketing and sales opportunities.
What Types of Businesses Benefit Most From Digitizing Their Product Catalog?
With so many benefits, it’s no surprise that digital product catalogs are an essential tool for businesses of all sizes across many different industries. Over the years, our experts have seen many companies that have benefitted from digitally transforming their product catalogs, especially in industries such as:
- Kitchen and bath
- Home accessories
- Real estate
- Material handling
- Auto and motorized vehicle manufacturers
- Apparel, especially shoes, watches, and clothing
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Any organization can benefit from digitizing their product catalog if they create products that are customizable, have replaceable parts, connect to accessories, or change frequently.
Even if you are offering very simple products that are not customizable, rarely change and are universally compatible, a digital product catalog will still expedite sales, reduce ordering errors, provide consumers with better experiences, and provide your business with much more sophisticated data analytics capabilities that will push you ahead of competitors.
Vervint: Your Partner for Digital Product Catalog Development
With Vervint, organizations can avoid and overcome common challenges with digital product catalogs and drive new value faster. Our Configuration Services Team is ready to help you move forward and start driving new revenue. Contact Vervint today!