When implementing a B2B eCommerce site, collecting and organizing all of your catalog data first will prevent many avoidable holdups throughout the project.
An eCommerce site requires incredible amounts of data. Purchasing departments and consumers alike demand rich and robust product descriptions, item dimensions and attributes, identification of related items, and, especially, high-quality product images. In that regard, these expectations can be particularly challenging for a business-to-business company, especially one that is making its debut in the online marketplace.
Oftentimes, data is scattered across disparate systems, whether that’s printed and filed in cabinets, saved to a shared drive and again on several desktops, within a master Excel file that has three versions, or in the ERP. If you’re implementing a B2B eCommerce site, prevent an immediate blow-up by collecting and organizing all of your data first.
What Catalog Data is Needed?
An eCommerce system requires a huge amount of content, and most organizations are not initially prepared to provide what is needed. There are some key pieces of data that should be passed to the eCommerce system as well as some key decisions to be made along the way.
- Item Number and Name
- Extended Descriptions
- Item Images
- Attribute Data
Where Can I Find Catalog Data?
A tremendous amount of data is needed in order to effectively showcase your products. Fortunately, whether it’s well-written and descriptive marketing copy or technical product specifications, the data resides somewhere within your organization. The real trick is finding that data and accessing it.
Enterprise Software Systems (ERP)
Much of the product data can often be found within the enterprise software system (ERP). ERP systems like SAP, Great Plains, and JD Edwards are designed to store large volumes of Item Master Data. Unfortunately, these systems hold and organize data primarily to feed their own Order Management and Shipping processes. The necessary data will typically need to be augmented once it is entered into the eCommerce system.
Catalog data can also be acquired from an item’s vendor, who will often have rich content and high quality images available. The biggest challenge here is, again, accessibility. Vendors are beginning to make their content available online, however, this typically requires building processes and systems to capture the data and make it available to the eCommerce system.
Point of Sale Systems
Another viable option is your point of sale system. These systems store product data and are specifically geared to simplifying the sales process for your customers, so they should be good sources of content and images.
Now that you have gathered the information you need, how do you get it to your catalog data to your site? Contact our team to find out.