The Future of Product Catalogs

Michelle Lawrence Picture

by Michelle Lawrence | Last Updated: Sep 12, 2023

When it came time to go back to school, there was nothing better than browsing a new product catalog for school supplies. It was all part of an experience. I would put sticky notes on the pieces I wanted to wear in the upcoming school year. 

Now in the year 2023, the way your customers and I shop looks drastically different. I don’t remember the last time I seriously flipped through a printed product catalog with the intention of making a purchase. I doubt your customers remember either. 

So are product catalogs dead? No, it’s anything but. 

Let’s find out what went wrong with the traditional product catalog and what the future holds in store for these marketing resources that still hold importance today. 

The Traditional Product Catalog Is Broken 

Back in the early 2000s and earlier, or printed product catalog’s heyday, it wouldn’t take as much to impress customers as it does now. This isn’t a dig towards consumers back then, it’s just that technology has drastically advanced and has made it so consumers expect a certain level of excellence when shopping.

Just like outdated technology, printed catalogs are no longer exceeding the expectations set by your customers. In fact, they’re adding unnecessary friction to the customer experience. What once served as an important part of the retail process, now is an obsolete relic that reminds customers how much our buying behaviors have changed and so have customers' preferences towards viewing a brand’s product line. 

Where Printed Catalogs Went Wrong

Printed catalogs served their purpose decades ago. Now as technology has caught up, they’re no longer the best-in-class way of showcasing a brand’s products. 

They’re Expensive

Printing and shipping costs are not insignificant to marketing budgets. Printing and shipping your product catalogs can cost you anywhere from $10,000 to potentially millions. There’s a better way to allocate that part of your marketing budget that doesn’t include paying a huge sum of money only to not see the return on your efforts. 

With printed and PDF catalogs, there’s no telling what the ROI is for those resources because you can’t track analytics like page views, number of users, session length, and more. You can’t track the number of customers who even receive those product catalogs, let alone open the resource you’ve worked incredibly hard on. 

Printed catalogs come with a high price tag and the inability to measure ROI. In a world that places an incredible amount of emphasis on marketing attribution, product catalogs aren’t meeting this standard any longer. 

They’re Outdated

Printed and PDF product catalogs do not scale and certainly don’t make it time-efficient for marketing teams. Marketers have to remember all of the places where this product data is used within their marketing materials and manually update each asset. 

But even when spending tons of time updating these resources,  they’re still outdated. Once they’re printed and shipped, customers view the old product catalog they received. If customers can’t trust your brand is putting out accurate product information, this can lead to mistrust and ultimately churn for your business. 

They Create a Bad User Experience 

One thing is universal these days - we’re all impatient. We’ve gotten so used to filtering web pages down to only see the stuff we’re interested in and using Command + F to search directly for what we’re looking for.

Printed product catalogs don’t have a filter or search functionality. These resources leave customers frustrated, unable to find the specific products they’re looking for. 

They also cause friction when trying to complete the next step in the customer journey - purchasing.  Printed catalogs don’t have a button customers can easily click on to request more information from sales. They have to manually type in a company’s website on a device, locate the product they’re interested in, and checkout or contact sales that way. Customers may become frustrated and not purchase from your brand if you add unnecessary steps to the customer journey.

What Caused the Shift?

Did we go from printed catalogs to digital overnight? Yes and no. Digital has always been where the world was headed, we just got there a little sooner than anticipated. 

Immediate Gratification

Consumer preferences change faster than the changes happening to Twitter…err I mean X (🙄). We have been on a non-stop flight towards everything digital for a while, the pandemic just expedited our trip there; digital transformation in advanced economic economies and industries increased six percent in just a few years.  

Once consumers grew accustomed to immediate gratification from online shopping, the pandemic raised the bar for every brand, no matter what industry, demographic, or business sector your company serves. 

Enhanced Customer Experience 

But instant gratification isn’t the only thing consumers started demanding after the pandemic. Not only do we as consumers want things immediately, but we also want to be wowed with both the personalization levels of our experiences with brands and the level of engagement provided. 

More than half of customers revealed they would switch to another brand after a singular bad customer experience. 

It might be a daunting task for some brands that have been slow to transform digitally. But for those brands who continue to resist meeting us where consumers are, they risk falling behind if they’re not delivering on what consumers want - which is a digital product catalog experience. 

Meet the Future of Product Catalogs

Digital product catalogs are the future. When switching over to a digital catalog your business can witness tremendous benefits for both your customers and your internal teams.

Creating Digital Product Catalogs 

So we know the future of product catalogs is digital, but how can marketers make the switch? Creating digital product catalogs is significantly easier when using a Product Experience Management (PXM) Platform. 

A PXM ties all of the necessary solutions like a Product Information Management (PIM) solution, Digital Asset Management (DAM), and Digital Experience Platform (DXP) together in one place so you can centralize your product data, content and digital assets, and create engaging digital experiences like a product catalog without relying on multiple tech solutions.

When using a PXM to centralize your product data and create digital experiences, it saves you a ton of time when compared to the old-school way of creating printed catalogs. Because product data and other related digital assets are already stored within the PXM, there’s no need for you to track down product information in disparate spreadsheets or wait weeks to have your catalog printed and shipped. 

In less than a few hours, you can create a personalized product catalog for your customers and launch it for them to engage with on the same day. 

Start Creating a Digital Product Catalog Today 

Product catalogs are essential to your business. Give them the upgrade they deserve by going digital. 

Lumavate makes it easy for you to centralize your product catalog data in its PIM and then create a digital product catalog in less than a few hours. 

Schedule a demo with Lumavate today to see how easy switching to digital can be. 

See Lumavate in Action

Meet with one of our experts to see how easy it is to centralize your product data, manage digital assets, and create digital product experiences. Trust us…you’re going to be wowed.