Whether you’re looking to implement an eCommerce site from scratch or upgrade your current site to make it more robust and modern, it all starts with your catalog. An eCommerce site requires a lot of data, content, and imagery to be successful.
Organizing and managing that data is no small task. It can be as hard or maybe even harder than creating a print catalog, and it demands the same kind of attention to details such as layout, design, and verbiage. So, where to begin? Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand to wave to get your catalog data in line, just hard work.
From our experience with customers, here are the things you need to consider when organizing your catalog data.
Product Images and Attributes
Starting with the basics, your catalog needs to have comprehensive images and attributes for each product. The right images will inform your customer and can help make a sale. When shopping in person, a customer will often want to see a product from all angles, inside and out, before committing to the purchase. Be sure they can do the same online via images on your site.
Detailed product attributes are necessary for faceted navigation and marketing tools. Product attributes help to define the product are used for filtering. In the clothing industry, these are usually things like size, color, style, sleeve length, etc. In the industrial and B2B industry, attributes can be things like storage capacity, usage, thickness, length, etc. Things like cross-sells, upsells, and related items are part of what make eCommerce engines so powerful, but they need the appropriate data in order to leverage those capabilities.
Rich SEO Data
While you may have optimized your overall site for search engines, it’s important to do the same for each item in your catalog. SEO product data should include:
- Meta descriptions
- Meta tags
- Long tail search terms
- Rich extended descriptions
- Proper alt tags on images
All of this data will make it easier for potential customers to find your products.
Rich and Effective Media
Product images are great, but product videos are even better. This content can even further educate your customers on your product. Even if it’s just a link to a YouTube review of your product, including a video will elevate your catalog data.
Technical Data and Product Reviews
While not quite as crucial as the first three suggestions, technical data can be helpful in certain industries, especially if your competitors don’t offer it. Technical drawings, dimensions, weights, materials used, and instructional content is icing on the cake if you have the aforementioned data in place.
Another bonus item is product reviews. Not only do reviews help customers make a buying decision, but customer feedback can help you determine if a product is something you want to cut from your inventory or invest marketing dollars into. Reviews will require continued assessment, as you will need to check them for potentially offensive or inappropriate content.
Where to Find the Data
Now that you know what you need, where can you find it? Static data (such as SKU, name, weights, dimensions, QOH, and pricing) typically comes from the ERP. Beyond that, it’s dependent on the organization.
From Excel spreadsheets that are loaded into the eCommerce engine to exports from a paper catalog file, we’ve seen a little bit of everything when it comes to data sources. The best scenario, however, would be to use a PIM system. Product Information Management systems are designed to manage all product content. They receive an export from the ERP then generate catalog files to load to different systems.
Another source of product data is through third-party feeds. While it’s certainly an investment, this option allows you to gather content directly from the vendor and load it into the website.
Regardless of the source, defining your data organization strategy is crucial. This will help determine how everything will pan out and the frequency that data will be updated. Not everything will be automated up front, so plan on some manual tasks when organizing. And remember: preparing your catalog for the web is an ongoing process. You will invariably continue to refine it after you launch your site.
Do you have a data organization or eCommerce project that could use some assistance? Contact our certified team.