Selling online has a number of challenges, one of which is maintaining a product catalog. You may have hundreds or thousands of SKUs to publish across a variety of sales channels, such as your website and marketplaces, depending on your business.
Product data can easily become disorganised and inconsistent as a result of these circumstances. Normalizing your data for all of your use cases can be a time-consuming and tedious process. Many merchants settle for subpar product information because it’s simply too much for them to handle at once. Low product information, on the other hand, can result in other problems, such as incomplete product listings on the internet..
Here are some of the most common challenges that merchants encounter when it comes to managing their eCommerce product catalogs, as well as some suggestions for how to overcome these difficulties.
What is the significance of your eCommerce product data?
Product information is a critical component of providing a high-quality online experience for customers and prospects. The way you manage your product data serves as the foundation for shopping experiences such as those provided by:
In search engine results, search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the frequency with which your products are displayed.
Site navigation is assigned to how easy it is for a buyer to navigate through product categories in order to narrow down their options on the website.
Buyers should be able to search for and locate products on your website through the use of site search.
The display of relevant product recommendations to buyers in order to increase average order values or upsell opportunities is referred to as product recommendations.
Increase buyer confidence by providing buyers with the assurance that your product will meet their specifications.
How you manage your product data has a jolting back office operations that are critical to the success of your business.
Having the Capabilities to publish and update product listings on the internet as needed will save you time in the market.
Accountable for accurate financial and operational reporting, such as sales by SKU, costs by SKU, category breakdowns, and when to reorder more products.
In order to ensure that an item is associated with the correct inventory counts or customer orders, integration must be able to map product data to your ERP system.
As a result, what exactly is it that prevents you from effectively managing your product data?
Common eCommerce Catalog Management Challenges
Listed below are five common problems that occur when managing your eCommerce product catalog. When it comes to being an eCommerce seller, do any of these things sound all too familiar?
Maintaining the accuracy of product listings on the internet
maintaining a record of product listings across a number of different sales channels
Product data from a supplier or a third party that has been normalised
Increasing the number of products in your product catalog
Managing complex product structures such as serialised items, kits/assemblies, and other similar items
Product Listings are kept up to date.
Many merchants are required to amend their SKUs on a regular basis due to price changes, new products becoming available, and other factors. It is possible that you will spend a significant amount of time each day fine-tuning your items in order to put them on the market for sale. This is time that could have been spent on more important tasks such as marketing, operations, and providing excellent customer service.
Selling Your Products Through a Variety of Channels
How do you efficiently list the same products across multiple channels, such as marketplaces or webstores, without sacrificing quality?
Due to the fact that each channel has its own set of listing requirements, it is difficult to list products in multiple places. The product categories on Amazon are different from those on eBay. The way you list your product on a marketplace alter from the way you display it on your own branded web store or website.
Customizing listings for each sales channel can take hours, extending the time it takes for your product to reach the market. Product data can easily become jumbled, resulting in listing errors such as missing information or being listed in the incorrect location on the website.
Managing Supplier Information
Your suppliers or other third-party vendors frequently provide product data with minimal information, and it is possible that several item attributes are not included in the data. Additionally, data can be in the incorrect pattern if it is spelled incorrectly or if it has the incorrect data structure.
The fact that suppliers do not sell directly to consumers means that they are not required to standardise their product information in the same way that you are. All of these are annoyances that need to be addressed before anything is published online. Cleansing and normalising this data is a necessary step in the process of analysing it.
Increasing the number of products in your catalog
When your product catalog is already disorganised, it can be difficult to add additional SKUs when the situation calls for it. If you don’t go back and clean up your SKUs, you’ll have to accept the current state of your product data quality. In light of this predicament, some merchants may decide not to add any new products to their existing product lines. It’s possible that you don’t have the resources or time to deal with such problems. Unfortunately, this issue may prevent you from expanding your company. –
Managing Product Structures That Are Complicated
Depending on the types of products you sell, your product data structures may be more complex than those of your competitors. A merchant who sells diamond engagement rings, for example, must contend with a number of difficult structures, such as the ones listed below:
Items that are serialised – Each diamond is a one-of-a-kind piece of jewellery.
Custom-made kits and assemblies – An engagement ring is composed of an original diamond, stone setting, and ring band style that are all unique to the wearer.
It is even possible for a clothing company to deal with matrix/variant products, which are products that are available in multiple sizes and colours for a single item of clothing. These interconnections between your products must be well-organized and represented in your information. This is important because if it is not, you may have difficulties publishing data online and performing back office operations such as inventory counts and financial reporting.
Enhance the management of your eCommerce product catalog by following these steps:
As we discussed above, many of the issues that we discussed previously have an impact on the quality and consistency of your data. It is difficult to maintain high-quality data when tailoring data for different sales channels, normalising data from suppliers, or trying to expand your catalog with new products.
The ability to maintain data quality is typically correlated with the location where you store all of your data in one place. Many merchants use Excel or their eCommerce platform to keep track of their product inventory. These alternatives, on the other hand, will fall short if you have a large or complex online product catalog.
When managing large volumes of SKUs in Excel or your eCommerce platform, it can be difficult to establish and maintain a consistent standard. It is possible that item data will contain misspellings, omitted attributes, or incorrect descriptions of the item.
Excel was not intended to be used for the management of eCommerce catalogs. You will be unable to update your product data because you will lack the comprehensive tools required. To make large-scale updates and changes, you’ll be relying solely on your employees, which increases the likelihood of human error occurring.
However, while your eCommerce platform is capable of handling basic SKU management, it is not designed to handle catalog management. More comprehensive tools for importing, normalising, and publishing data to the rest of your sales channels will not be available in this version. eCommerce platforms also do not assist in connecting product data to advanced inventory management or order fulfilment requirements, which are both required by many businesses.
Deciding on a location to store and manage your product information
Merchants can use a variety of software solutions to better manage their product data in order to reduce time-to-market, enrich product listings, and efficiently tailor listings to multiple sales channels, among other benefits.
- Product Information Management in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system
Merchants can manage product data in an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system if the company has one in place. Product data management capabilities have been added to modern ERPs such as NetSuite, which are not available in all ERPs (particularly legacy ones).
It is possible that your ERP will be a better choice for mastering your products than Excel or eCommerce software because it is so closely tied to financial reporting or any other operational requirements. Your items will begin in your ERP system, regardless of which system they must be in to be considered completed. In terms of product information, this system becomes your single source of truth.
If you’re storing your product information in your ERP, you can use an integration provider such as nChannel to automate processes such as the ones listed below:
Product publishing from your ERP system to your eCommerce system or marketplaces is possible.
Updates to product listings’ pricing information can be found online.
Inventory accounts are displayed and updated online in order to prevent overselling of products.
Individual line items are linked to online order fulfilment through a secure connection.
A Product Information Management (PIM) system should be purchased. 2.
A Product Information Management (PIM) system can also be used by merchants to manage their product data requirements. When you use a product information management system (PIM), all of your product data is centralized and managed in one place, no matter where it comes from or where it needs to go.
This software is ideal for streamlining the process of uploading, standardising, and publishing your data to your distribution channels. You’ll have powerful tools at your disposal that will allow you to properly format data and ensure that you always have the rich, consistent product information that your buyers are looking for on your website.
PIM systems are available at a variety of price points and feature sets. They are particularly well suited for merchants who sell across a number of marketplaces (5 or more) or who have complex requirements for cleaning and normalising data from a number of suppliers. They may not be worth the investment if your company already has an ERP or another order management system in place.