Let’s say one of the following two scenarios is true:
- You’re currently running your business the old school way with a print product catalog and a traditional sales process (if that's true, you may be wondering what is B2B eCommerce in the first place and how to make the O2O transition?).
- You have an outdated B2B eCommerce platform that does not have digital catalog software functionality.
If so, you’ve likely decided that you’re tired of spending money that you don’t need to. Mostly on printing (and re-printing) and distributing (and re-distributing) physical catalogs. But also on troubleshooting all the negatives that come with a dilapidated, hard-to-use website.
Enter digital catalogs.
To get one you gotta make one, and that means digitizing your current product list. There are two ways to do that. One involves using a standalone online catalog maker. The other, using a B2B eCommerce platform with digital catalog capabilities.
But maybe you want to dip your toes into the world of digital catalogs before you fully dive into the benefits of B2B eCommerce. If so, make a digital catalog with an online catalog maker. That’ll familiarize you with their qualities and their benefits.
Just beware, you’ll turn into a digital catalog disciple. It’s hard not to. They drive excellent positive engagement with your brand, and they drive a ton of sales. Welcome to the other side.
What Is an Online Catalog Maker?
An online catalog maker is a website, mobile app, or software that lets you easily create and publish product catalogs. With an online catalog maker, you can add products, descriptions, images, and other information to create a professional-looking catalog that you can share with customers or use for eCommerce marketing purposes.
You might want to use an online catalog maker for many reasons. For example, if you sell products online, a well-designed catalog can help showcase your items and make it easier for customers to find what they're looking for. Or, if you manage an inventory sheet for a brick and mortar store, an online catalog can be a convenient way to keep track of your stock.
Additionally, an online catalog is a helpful tool for marketing and sales, as you can use it to promote new products or special deals. There are several different online catalog makers available, so choosing one that meets your specific needs is important. Some catalog makers are better suited for creating simple, text-based catalogs, while others offer more features and flexibility for creating more complex designs.
Some catalog makers are free to use, while others require a subscription payment or one-time fee. Once you've selected an online catalog maker, you can start adding products and building your catalog. You can create a professional-looking catalog with most online catalog makers in just a few minutes.
What Is a Product Catalog?
A product catalog is a document that contains information about the products offered by a company. It typically includes product names, descriptions, photos, and pricing information. A product catalog can be either printed or digital.
Online Catalog Maker vs. Manual Publishing
There are a lot of advantages to using product catalog builder software over manually creating and publishing product catalogs. Let’s dig into four of the most important:
- Time and talent. Manually creating, managing, and maintaining a product catalog is a remarkably time-consuming process. And it requires in-house creative talent for design, layout, and publishing. A catalog maker relieves you of that burden. Most product catalog builder software comes with built-in design and layout options or templates. Or it uses a singular highly-optimized template across the board.
- Compatibility and accessibility. Manually creating and publishing your product catalog makes you responsible for how well it integrates with different devices, operating systems, and web browsers. And prospects use a dizzying variety of those. But a catalog builder eliminates that risk and ensures your hard work is viewable and shareable by all.
- Low or no software fees. Most manual catalog creation work is done in the Adobe suite of software. Depending on the size of your business and type of license you use, that can cost hundreds—even thousands—of dollars per year. On the flip side, a digital catalog creator can spin up a catalog for you of the same quality for a fraction of the price. In some cases, it’s even free.
- More exposure and sales. Think of a traditional PDF catalog which must be downloaded before it can be viewed. Now think of an online product catalog made with a digital catalog maker. It can be embedded on your website and easily shared with a link through email and social media. The takeaway here is accessibility. Your buyers don’t have to download big files to access and purchase your products. Now that’s how to create a catalog.
How to Create a Catalog
The answer to how to create a product catalog is different depending on what your starting point is. Maybe you already have an existing product catalog and you’d like to digitize it. Maybe you’re starting from nothing and want to know how to make a product catalog from scratch. Either way, read on.
How to Make a Product Catalog from Scratch
- First, gather all the information you want to include in your catalog. Which product categories, each product SKU number, brands, and product lines, along with how they’ll be grouped and featured. Ensure you compile information on your company, online marketplace, sales reps, customer support, and website. You can use a free SKU generator template to help with this process. If you don't have a website yet, consider using an eCommerce website builder to get started. Additionally, provide instructions on how to request a quote or place an order.
- Next, make sure you have high resolution images and great sales copy for every product in your catalog. Use eCommerce analytics or business analytics tools to help you track your historical sales data and customer feedback. This way, you can make informed decisions about what to highlight and what to say about it. For specialty products, consider including information about their source or origin (e.g., country, region, or farm).
- Once you have all the core information down, the last thing you’ll want to focus on is the nice-to-haves. This is where you’ll invest some time in the front and back cover. And maybe even include a letter from the founder or CEO of the company and testimonials from your customers.
- Finally, it’s time for design and layout. Have a vision for what you want your catalog to look like. It helps to be up-to-date on the best practices for creating a product catalog that sells. As well as research what your competitors are doing.
- Once you’re happy with your design, print and review some samples of your catalog with your team. After the review process is completed, and if you’ve incorporated your team’s feedback, your catalog is ready for mass production and distribution.
How to Create an Online Catalog
There’s a reason we discuss creating a catalog from scratch first. Because it’s a necessary step when learning how to create an online catalog.
If you’ve completed steps 1 through 3 above, you already have a product list, information about your products, high resolution imagery, and other nice-to-haves.
Well, there’s something different about using an online catalog maker to make a digital catalog. You don’t have to worry about the design, layout, or printing. Whether you’re using a standalone digital catalog software or a catalog builder built into your B2B eCommerce platform, the software takes care of it. It does so by giving you design templates or automatically generating a catalog based on your product list and information.
And, thankfully, distributing a digital catalog online is as simple as hitting the publish button. Then you either embed the digital catalog on your website or share a link to the catalog via email or social media. No dead trees required.
What Are the Benefits of an Online Catalog?
An online catalog can offer several advantages and benefits over a traditional paper-based catalog, such as:
- Increased Reach and Visibility
Anyone with an internet connection can see an online catalog anywhere in the world. This gives businesses a broader audience to promote their products and services.
- 24/7 Availability
An online catalog can be accessed at any time of day or night. Meaning, potential customers can browse and purchase items whenever it suits them.
- Increased Convenience
Customers can view an online catalog at their own pace, from the comfort of their homes or office. They can also easily compare prices and products from different businesses without physically visiting each store.
An online catalog is typically much cheaper to produce and distribute than a traditional paper-based catalog. This can be a significant saving for businesses, especially those that produce large or complex catalogs.
- Environmentally Friendly
Going paperless is one way to help the environment, and online catalogs are a great way to do that. By switching to an online catalog, you can eliminate the need for physical resources, like paper and ink to create and distribute your catalog. This not only saves resources but also reduces your carbon footprint.
- Engaging and Interactive
An online catalog is more engaging and interactive than a traditional paper-based catalog, using features such as video, audio, animation, and hyperlinks. This helps capture the attention of potential customers and encourages them to purchase. However, if a customer abandons their cart and does not place an order, you can use abandoned cart email or abandoned cart recovery strategies to win them back.
- Easy to Update
It's easy to make changes and updates to an online catalog without reprinting and distributing a new version. Businesses can keep their customers up-to-date with the latest products and offers quickly and easily.
- Increased Sales
An online catalog helps increase sales by making it easier for customers to find and purchase items. Businesses can also track customer behavior and preferences, which can be used to target them with more relevant and effective eCommerce marketing strategy in the future.
- Improved Customer Service
An online catalog provides customers with a more efficient and convenient way to find the information or products they're looking for. This improves customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Greater Flexibility
An online catalog gives businesses greater flexibility in design, layout, and functionality than a traditional paper-based catalog. This means businesses create a unique and bespoke experience for their customers that reflects their brand identity.
Best Online Catalog Creator
To sum it all up, there are two types of online catalog creators. The first, standalone catalog builders, give you a digital version of your print catalog. The second, or digital catalog software, is integrated into B2B eCommerce ordering.
But they’re not all created equal. The best online catalog creator is integrated into your B2B eCommerce platform and sometimes the warehousing software you use. And the best B2B eCommerce solutions offer robust digital catalog builders.
That’s because it turns into a one-stop shop for your customers to browse and research your products to their heart's content. And when they’re ready to make a purchase, they can do it with just one click. No navigating to a different site. No calling a sales rep to place an order.
So look for all-in-one systems that feature both a web storefront, as well as mobile or online ordering apps. Then sync your digital catalog to both. Then you can manage a consistent, omni-channel experience for your buyers. And you’ll only have to manage one centralized product catalog. No need to worry about an old-fashioned UPC code for your products.
Frequently Asked Questions About Online Catalog Maker
What Is Product Catalog Builder Software?
Product catalog builder software is a tool that helps businesses create and manage product catalogs. This is done through product data, customization, and publishing. It is also used to create digital or print catalogs, and helps with managing inventory and pricing.
What Is the Best Product Catalog Builder Software In 2022?
The best product catalog builder software in 2022 includes:
- Adobe InDesign
- Catalog Machine
- Flip PDF
What Is Catalog Management Software?
Catalog management software is used to manage eCommerce product catalogs. This type of software helps online businesses keep track of their inventory, as well as organize and consolidate product data into convenient points of reference for buyers and merchants.
How to Make a Catalog for My Business?
To make a catalog for your business:
- Collect your product data such as dimensions, composition, testimonials, pricing, and more.
- Determine your catalog layout and structure.
- Create a design for your product catalog.
- Publish your catalog.
What Is Online Catalog Design Software?
Online catalog design software is a computer program that is used to create, design,and publish digital catalogs. This includes brochures, price lists, and other commercial documents. This software makes it simple to customize online product catalogs for businesses.
If you're looking for an eCommerce solution that can help you efficiently manage your catalog and product data, BlueCart is the way to go. With its industry-leading catalog management capabilities, BlueCart makes it easy to keep track of your inventory, pricing, and product information. And because it's designed specifically for wholesalers and distributors, you can be sure that it has the features and functionality you need to run your business effectively.