Have you ever been in a situation where a customer asked for specific product details and you couldn’t find them immediately? It’s quite common when you run a business and don’t use a product catalog.
If you own or run an eCommerce business, you need to maintain a product catalog online, so that your potential customers can view all the details of a product especially when you’re into an IT hardware and software business.
Creating, maintaining, and updating a product catalog is not easy. It has its own set of challenges but has its benefits too. In this blog, you will learn all about them.
What is a product catalog?
But first, let’s recap the basics. A product catalog is a list of products and their details sold by a business. The details include name, type, features, dimensions, price, color, weight, images, videos, animation, reviews, ratings, discounts, offers, etc. A printed catalog may not include all of these but we are talking about online catalogs. Because if you sell stuff online, the details should be online too.
Now, let’s talk about catalogs for IT hardware and software products. Your IT hardware catalog would be just like any other product catalog. It will contain extra details like power consumption, batteries (if needed), connecting cables, warranty, manufacturing date, charging time, input and output voltage, certifications, etc.
For an IT software catalog, the details will be a little different. It may contain features, version, installation requirements like the operating system, platform and hardware specification of the device, warranty, applications and tools included, certifications, etc.
A product catalog is not just useful for your customers and clients (for B2B), it will be very helpful for your sales representatives, warehouse managers, marketing team, partners, resellers, and other stakeholders.
10 Benefits and challenges of IT hardware and software catalog
In this section, we will tell you about the 10 benefits and challenges of IT hardware and software catalog. Let’s see one by one.
1. More product details
One of the biggest challenges of IT hardware catalog is including all details in the print form. Hardware products need additional details like power consumption, hardware components technology version, certifications etc. Further, videos, animations, or recent reviews cannot be included in the print form.
An online catalog allows you to add more details like videos, photos from various angles, several screenshots of the software, certifications, and a lot more. You don’t have to worry about the space limit here. Another benefit of using a digital catalog is that you can have interactive tools where the customers can choose certain specifications or check out the different variations of the same product.
2. Easily accessible and convenient
Customers always prefer to research and check out all the features of hardware and software products before buying. They would prefer that they can read up on the product details and its reviews in real-time and without going to a store. They like it when all the information is available at their fingertips.
One of the benefits of IT catalog available online is the ease of accessibility and convenience with which your customers can check out your products from any part of the world. This not only attracts new customers but encourages the existing customers to buy from you again.
3. Search products faster
Not everyone searches for a product by typing the exact product name along with its model number online. Customers look for a product with its type, brand name, features, price, and other criteria. They want to open multiple tabs with different products to compare before choosing one.
Online product catalogs don’t just store random numbers and words that constitute the product data. This information is something that appears on the search engine when customers enter the related keywords. Your potential customers will have all the details of your products in a fraction of a second. When they have enough details, they are more likely to buy your product.
4. Share quickly and easily
Another challenge with IT hardware and software catalog is sharing it. You will have to print as many copies as the number of potential customers you want to share it with. Also, if one of your customers wants to recommend your product to a friend, they will need another copy too.
A digital catalog simplifies the above problem. All you have to do is design a website and send the link to as many as people you want to. Your existing customers can easily share the link with their friends. Links can be shared through text, messages, email, or social media in a matter of seconds.
5. Easy to update and maintain
As your business grows, you will add more products and more varieties of existing ones. Each time there is a new product, the catalog must be updated. And each time a product is out of stock or discontinued, the catalog must be updated. Products becoming obsolete is very common in the business of hardware and software.
An online product catalog can be updated in minutes. You can add more details, remove details, add new products, change the prices, introduce discounts and offers, remove products, etc – all within minutes. These changes will be quickly updated and reflected in real-time for your customers.
6. Reduced costs
Printing and distributing catalogs take a lot of time, energy, and money. And every time there are some changes, you need to do it all over again to include new products and features or remove discontinued ones. Such changes are quite common with IT hardware and software.
Digital product catalogs solve the above problem. Of course, there will be an initial cost while you set up. But once you have designed and organized the catalog structure, costs for maintaining, scaling, and distribution are greatly reduced.
7. Customer data collection
One of the key aspects of running a business is marketing. When it comes to online marketing, your strategies and campaigns heavily rely on targeted marketing to your target audience. Collecting data for this poses a huge challenge.
Catalogs help you with that too. All you have to do is set up analytics tools with your online catalog. Some product catalog management software will have built-in analytics and AI (Artificial Intelligence). Once you have customer data, like their interest and buying behavior, your marketing campaigns can be more targeted and accurate.
8. Easy to scale the catalogs
You might have started your business with a few hardware products or basic software. But as your business grows and expands, you will have more products and more software versions. You will have different tiers and premium prices too. Can you even imagine selling all these without a catalog?
Online product catalogs are easy to scale. Because once the categories are set, you can easily add new products. Also introducing a new category or subcategory can be done in a few minutes. This won’t even increase your maintenance cost. It might increase your online (cloud storage) space and some cost though.
9. Integration with other eCommerce software
When you run an eCommerce business, listing the product details and prices is not enough. You need to be able to sell them online too. To do that, you will have to integrate your product details with payment platforms.
You can not only integrate your product catalog with payment gateways but with other business tools and applications too. It will help you to link your product details with your distributors, resellers, and other stakeholders. This plays an important role in running your business smoothly.
10. Improves your business
Thanks to all the products and their details at your fingertips, your sales, and marketing team come up with better marketing campaigns. As all the data is updated in real-time, you can automate sales and payments. With customer data, you can personalize and customize your software. You can even recommend hardware products based on their interests.
When you put up the right details, update regularly and maintain a product catalog, there is some trust built between you and your customers. They are more likely to buy your products. This increases your sales and helps to grow your business.
It doesn’t matter if your eCommerce business is a small one or a big one. Also, it doesn’t matter if you have a few products in the market. Maintain a product catalog. This goes for software as well, because they are products too. It might consume some time, money, and energy for the initial setup. But once it is in place, you can easily scale it as your business grows.