Nowadays certain things are assumed to exist with any business. That would include a website and a presence on social media platforms. To survive in this highly competitive and ever-changing world it is essential to keep up with the pack, and if possible to exceed it. This article is going to help you gather the key elements needed for producing an online catalog for your business.
Consider The Benefits
First of all, you need to be convinced that you need to do this. So what are the benefits? If all you have are paper catalogs to give people, the circulation is limited to whoever your company gives them to. Imagine having the same information online, where people can either deliberately find you or stumble upon you when they are looking to buy something.
Paper catalogs are expensive, particularly when you need colored photographs – and let’s face it, most products need color! You may have 1,000 products but only the capacity for 250 pages. There’s nothing worse than seeing tiny pictures of products squashed together, with descriptive details written in a tiny font.
If you have an online catalog you are not limited by space and you can update the information (price, products, availability, etc.) on an online basis if needed. That’s cheaper than constantly reprinting your paper catalog. When it’s only on paper, all you can access is what you see on the page. Online catalogs can offer drop-down menus with additional reviews or product details etc.
Look At The Competitors
Rather than spending time reinventing the wheel, why not look at online catalogs for similar products to yours? How do those companies display the information? Have they thought of data and drop-down menus that you haven’t? When researching several websites with online catalogs, I found that the experts covered such markets as home and garden, cars, supermarkets, and fashion. The time you spend trawling your competitors’ sites will pay huge dividends.
Prepare Professional Photographs
If you want your online store to be a top-notch display case of your products, don’t let yourself down by using a cheap camera or phone. If the picture is low-grade, people will assume your products are too. It will be worth the investment to use professional equipment or get someone to do this for you.
Select An Online Platform
It’s important to research the best computer systems and software to enable you to go online. When you use Content Management System tools and Product Information Management, you can ensure the products are presented well, in a way that reflects your branding (more of that later). This will mean you can update everything whenever you need it.
Free catalog templates can be located online and they are often designed by professionals so they won’t look homemade and cheap. All you have to do is adapt them to your product details. You’ll also need to decide if you want a portrait or landscape format – research what will serve you most.
When you have an online product catalog it’s important to have a centralized hub that processes all the information. There are lots of ways to statistically analyze the traffic to your online store. This will help you know who your buyers are, what they are searching for, and what they do and do not want. When a computer program does this for you, it saves you paying employees who spend hours finding, logging, and analyzing data from their paper records.
Consider The Customer
From the customer’s angle, your store will need to allow them to refine their searches and online orders. Create catalogs that can be shared by them, and converted to other formats. This is essential as Windows and Mac computers can vary. If you use Adobe InDesign you are best placed for this purpose. Many customers will want to be able to download and print paper versions from home too, so give them this option.
You need to ask yourself a set of questions: Who are your customers? What questions will they be asking? Will they be paying using different currencies? What information and online services will they be looking for? Are you displaying online reviews for every product? Your catalog needs to be worked around this. This brings us to the need to…
Advertise Your Catalogue
After all your hard work making the catalog, you need to publicize it using every channel you can. You need to think about this before you create one online. If your website and social media platforms all use product branding eg for your logos, make sure your catalog matches this. If blue or green is your primary color, be sure to include a heavy presence of that color in your publication.
It won’t look good if you have adopted a certain style and format for your online pages and social media platforms but the catalog looks like a different company that has created it for you.
We’ve now got you thinking about why you should put this into action, and give you a list of things to do. Get some good photos and research the technology that will help you create the catalog. Look at the competitors and then advertise, advertise, advertise! Good luck as you step out into new territory – hopefully, it will reach a new audience.