What is a Product Catalog?
A product catalog is a comprehensive, searchable list of your company’s products and services. It’s essentially an organized collection of information about each product, including its name, description, image, price, and other relevant details that help buyers make purchasing decisions.
Today, “product catalog” almost always refers to the digital format. Within the digital category, there are plenty of different types of catalogs.
- In ecommerce, a product catalog is typically integrated into the company’s website. It allows customers to browse and purchase products online.
- For B2B sales, it’s a sales tool reps use to guide the selling process and demonstrate products to potential clients.
- On the backend of configure, price, quote (CPQ) software, it’s a repository of all your company’s products, which enables you to create quotes, proposals, and orders with 100% accuracy.
Although the interface (and exact terminology) may differ from one use case to another, the idea behind a product catalog is always more or less similar. It’s where you keep all your products in one place, so they’re easy to find and market.
- Digital product catalog
- Product list
How Sales Teams Use Product Catalogs
Product catalogs are one of the most important sales tools because they help reps find and present relevant products for each of their prospects. With a product catalog, you can quickly filter by product type, category, price range, and other parameters. And, if your CPQ has guided selling, you can answer a few questions and get an accurate list of products that match your prospects’ needs.
Retrieval and Distribution
Product catalogs are designed for easy retrieval and distribution, making it convenient for sales teams to access and share necessary product information with potential customers. This aids in comparisons and decision-making for buyers, as they can easily navigate various product options and features.
Comprehensive Product Details
A well-structured product catalog includes detailed product information, such as product names, descriptions, dimensions, prices, certifications, and high-quality images. This comprehensive data helps sales teams convey accurate and complete product information to customers, thereby aiding in making informed purchasing decisions.
Digital Features and Interactivity
Digital product catalogs offer interactive elements like pop-up frames, hyperlinks, videos, shopping lists, and product tags. These features enhance the customer experience and provide sales teams with tools to present products in a more engaging and detailed manner.
Improving Sales Conversations and Conversions
Salespeople can have more contextual and informed conversations based on the information in their product catalog. When they use it to drive sales conversations, they generally see higher chances of conversion because it enables them to address customer queries effectively and showcase product benefits accurately.
Brand Enhancement and Streamlining Information
Product catalogs allow companies to enhance their brand identity through customized designs and content. They also ensure a consistent flow of information across various stakeholders, maintaining uniformity in product messaging.
Real-Time Updates and Mobility with Digital Catalogs
You can easily update a digital product catalog, which means sales reps will always have the most current product information. This is particularly useful for field sales teams who need up-to-date data for client interactions. Apps and digital platforms facilitate this by allowing quick access to product details and updates.
Benefits of Online Product Catalogs
Enhances Buyer Experience
In customer-facing interfaces, product catalogs make it easier to locate and shop for products. With intuitive navigation, buyers can effortlessly find the products they need. In turn, this boosts their satisfaction and your conversion rate. Plus, it means they’ll spend more time on your site (which boosts your search engine rankings).
Think about any ecommerce store you’ve shopped on. Without a product catalog, it would be impossible to browse and compare products. That’s why most ecommerce sites have advanced product filtering and sorting options — without a way to demonstrate product features and a simple way to access the right products, a buyer would abandon the shopping experience altogether.
On the seller’s end, an organized repository for product details makes order management and order fulfillment processes faster and more straightforward. When customers place orders through your website or app (or a salesperson creates a quote in CPQ), it’s just a matter of sending the customer’s order info to fulfillment or integrating with an order management system.
Integrates with ERP, Pricing Software, and CPQ for Frictionless Sales
Digital catalogs, at their core, are nothing more than product data plus a user-friendly interface. So, you can integrate them with other business systems to create a seamless sales process, reduce data entry errors, and automate repetitive and error-prone tasks. In fact, they’re a core feature of any ERP, pricing, or CPQ software.
Sales and marketing teams use them differently, depending on the stage of the sales funnel a prospect is in.
- In the Awareness stage, product catalogs are used to gather interest and make buyers aware of the solutions available.
- In the Consideration stage, they help build confidence in your products based on features and pricing.
- In the Decision/Purchase stage, your online catalog becomes an essential source of accurate information customers use to make their final decision.
- In the Retention stage, they’re your ticket to reorder, upsell, and cross-sell opportunities.
By integrating your ERP software with CPQ and pricing automation tools, you can create a continuous flow of product data from one system to another. When the sales team generates a quote or enters an order using CPQ, it’s automatically updated in your ERP software. And your customers enjoy a seamless, fast buying experience.
Data Informs Product Development
How customers use your product (and how much of it they buy) can provide valuable insight into which features and products are selling well and where there’s room for improvement. The sales data in your product catalog tells you how to develop new product lines or tweak existing ones. The more you know your customer preferences, the better you can develop solutions that cater to them.
Provides Reference Material for Marketing, Sales, and Partners
Across all your sales channels, your product catalog creates consistency. It ensures everyone involved in bringing your product offering to market uses the same information to promote and sell it.
This is especially important when it comes to channel sales partners, who aren’t necessarily connected to your internal processes (they’re their own entity entirely). If they’re selling your commercial product, a lack of consistency means you risk misrepresentation, pricing inconsistencies, and potential regulatory violations.
Aids in Sales Employee Training
Your sales team members use your product catalog to learn about new products and features before they’re released. This ensures everyone is on the same page for upcoming product launches, which means there are no surprises during a demo or sales call. Plus, it simplifies the process of adding products to quotes and orders.
Besides facilitating guided selling and reducing ramp time, simply having access to the product catalog helps salespeople think on their feet. If you’ve ever been in a customer meeting when someone asks about a specific feature or benefit and your colleague doesn’t know the answer, you understand how useful it is to have a robust product catalog on hand.
Enables Product Configuration and Quote Generation
The only way CPQ could possibly generate accurate quotes is if there’s a centralized product information repository. Otherwise, there’s no way for it to access the pricing and feature data you need. A digital product catalog creates a single source of truth for all your product information, making it easy to configure products and generate quotes with the right pricing and features.
Essential Components of a Product Catalog
Product Description and Dimensions
Your product description is the first thing buyers will see when they’re browsing your catalog. It’s also what your sales team will use to pitch your product and what your marketing team will use in their campaigns. It should be concise, informative, and highlight the unique features of your product.
You should also include product dimensions, size guides, and other measurement-based information to help buyers make informed decisions.
Product Category and Subcategory
Categorizing your products makes it easier for buyers to find what they’re looking for. This is especially important for ecommerce sites with large product offerings. Having subcategories under each main category further refines the browsing experience.
High-quality images are crucial when you want to showcase your products and entice buyers to make a purchase. They should be clear, show multiple angles of the product, and accurately represent their color and features.
Include lifestyle images that show the product in use or context. That way, customers can envision themselves using the product, and you can give them ideas on how to use it.
Product Variants and Options
Product variants represent the different versions of a product available, such as color, size, material, and other attributes. These variants are essential for customers to understand the range of options available for a particular product. Each variant may have its own unique SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), price, weight, and other specific details.
Including variants and options in a product catalog helps organize information in a structured way. Instead of listing each variant as a separate product, which can be overwhelming and confusing, they are grouped under a main product listing. This approach makes it easier for customers to compare and choose between the different options available.
Implement tools that allow customers to visualize the product with their chosen customizations. For example, a feature that shows a live preview of the product as different options are selected can be very effective.
You should also design the product listing with a user-friendly interface (i.e., a product configurator) where customers can easily select and modify customization options. Dropdown menus, checkboxes, or radio buttons can be used for this purpose, ensuring a seamless experience.
Availability and Delivery Options
This is something you can configure to update automatically with an ERP integration. Each time your sales team processes an order or a customer completes a purchase, it should automatically update the availability options for that product. Based on what’s possible for you in terms of shipping and delivery, you can present customers with different options for receiving their orders.
Price is the most straightforward element in a product catalog. It indicates how much each item costs. It’s the first thing many customers look at and often serves as the starting point for their decision-making process.
Prices can vary depending on several factors, such as size, material, customization options, or quantity ordered. For example, larger sizes or bulk orders normally have different prices from standard sizes or single-item purchases. Set product rules in CPQ to ensure accurate pricing based on all your variables.
Complementary Products or Add-Ons
Depending on the nature of your product, you may be able to upsell or cross-sell complementary products and add-ons. Let’s say you’re a furniture retailer; you might offer cushions or pillows for sofas and chairs in your catalog. Alternatively, you may offer a package deal for purchasing multiple products together.
Return Policy and Warranty Information
Including return policy and warranty information in your product catalog helps set customer expectations and promotes transparency. Be clear about what products are eligible for returns, the timeframe for returns, and any associated fees or conditions. You should clearly state warranty details, including coverage, duration, and claim process.
Reviews are a tool for conversions, buyer enablement, and sales enablement. They help customers make purchasing decisions and give them confidence in their purchases. Including reviews in your product catalog also shows transparency and builds trust with potential buyers.
How CPQ and Product Catalog Integration Streamlines the Sales Process
CPQ plays a huge role in product catalog management because it integrates all your essential components into one system.
There are several ways integrating CPQ with your product catalog helps you streamline your sales process:
- Automated configuration reduces the time and effort required to manually configure complex products.
- Dynamic (and accurate) pricing eliminates pricing errors and ensures consistency across quotes. This is especially important when dealing with multiple product variants and pricing rules.
- Real-time inventory updates ensure availability and delivery options are always up to date, reducing the risk of overpromising and underdelivering.
- Centralized management keeps all your product data in one place, making it easier to maintain accuracy and consistency across sales channels.
- Streamlined quote generation means you can quickly and accurately create quotes for customers and automate repetitive components of your quote-to-cash process.
- Data integration across your organization means your product catalog will always reflect the most up-to-date information, as will every other piece of your tech stack.
- Upselling and cross-selling opportunities are presented in CPQ based on customer preferences and past buying patterns.
- Fewer sales errors result when your predetermined rules and constantly updated product data drive product configuration and quoting.
Types of product catalogs include printed catalogs, digital or online catalogs, and virtual reality (VR) catalogs. Printed catalogs are traditional paper-based versions that customers can browse through physically. Digital catalogs are electronic versions accessible through websites or apps. VR catalogs use immersive technology to enable customers to interact with virtual product representations.
In CPQ, a product catalog is the central repository for all your product data. It’s where you store descriptions, pricing information, and any other relevant details about your products. When your sales reps use the platform, this catalog is the basis for guided selling and product rules. This is what guides your reps through the sales process and ensures accurate quoting.