Product Catalog Management

What Is the Purpose of a Product Catalog?

product catalog — also known as a product guide, product catalogue, or product list — is essentially a summary of all of a company’s products. The catalog is far more than a list of products. It contains product images, descriptions, dimensions, and prices.

But what is the role of a product catalog in marketing? And what is meant by catalog management? The idea is to present to consumers a full picture of the brand, partially so they are aware of the brand’s offerings, and partially to immerse the consumer in the brand and make them more ingrained in the brand’s culture. The catalog is carefully crafted to present the company in its desired image, with its best products at the forefront. At the same time, the catalog must be kept up to date, with current product offerings and product information displayed in a clear and accurate manner.

There are many companies that would benefit from producing a product catalog. The most notable examples are those businesses that sell a wide variety of products that require in-depth explanations. One such product catalog management example is a home improvement business that sells similar products, such as light fixtures, faucets, and other similar products that need explanations to be differentiated. Similarly, clothing companies use catalogs to highlight the best features of their products.

Types of Product Catalogs

What is an example of a catalog? Product catalogs can come in the traditional magazine format, or they can be digital. There are advantages to both formats. A physical catalog is a tangible reminder of what the company is selling, enabling customers to refer to the catalog at their leisure when it’s time to shop. A digital catalog is stored on a computer or in the cloud, but it can be easier for consumers to find items via search functionality. Additionally, though digital catalogs may be static PDFs, a more integrated catalog can link directly to the company’s Product Information Management system, allowing for real-time information and the ability to purchase directly from a link within the catalog.

In either case, the purpose of the product catalog is to promote the company and its products by giving consumers the full picture of what the company has to offer. Some organizations even use both physical and digital catalogs to meet customers where they are on the path to purchase.

Benefits of a Digital Catalog

Given that the world is moving in the direction of digital communication and digital communication, it makes sense that an electronic version of a product catalog is a smart move. However, producing a digital catalog isn’t as simple as it might seem.

Many companies see the benefits of generating and distributing a digital catalog, and use a program like Adobe InDesign to create a PDF catalog. The logic behind the move is sound, but this approach has one major limitation. Product information changes regularly, and the information printed today might not be accurate next month. Because the digital catalog in question is a PDF, the product information on that PDF won’t update — it’ll remain as it was when the catalog was sent out. In this way, it’s the worst of both worlds. It’s got the static, update-free nature of a print catalog, but unlike a print catalog, the PDF won’t be lying around on a counter or desk to remind the consumer of its existence. Therefore, while the PDF is a good idea on the surface, it’s not as beneficial as businesses may think.

So, then, how do you make an effective catalog? Imagine the other concept available in digital catalog creation — a digital catalog that resides on your company’s website and pulls directly from the information in your Product Information Management software. This ensures an evergreen catalog that always provides up-to-date information whenever the consumer accesses it. What’s more, hosting the catalog on your website means that your catalog also benefits from your on-site SEO strategies, drawing even more traffic to the catalog. When compared to the PDF that’s instantly outdated and easily forgotten about, this web-based product catalog is a no-brainer.

Challenges When Creating Product Catalogs

Make no mistake, creating a product catalog is a challenge, especially if it’s the first time a business is undertaking such a project. The hardest part is getting all of the company’s product information organized. To make a good catalog, you need everything in one place, and you need to publish the information from a variety of product types in a universal format. These tasks are made incredibly difficult without a high level of organization behind the scenes.

The reality is, many organizations lack a Product Information Management solution. As a result, their product information is scattered across a variety of spreadsheets, personal folders, and email accounts. There’s no centralized location where everything resides, and that leads to confusion when it’s time to collaborate and condense all of the information into a catalog. If nobody even knows what information exists, let alone where to find it, creating a catalog becomes a virtually impossible task. And then, even if you can get everything together, how do you structure a product catalog?

The smart organization is the one that consolidates information and organizes it, so that it’s easy to create a catalog. This initiative is made much easier using product information management software.

What Is a PIM Catalog?

Product Information Management software, also known as PIM software, aims to eliminate these issues and remove the barriers that prevent organizations from creating catalogs. A PIM software solution allows companies to store all of their product information — product images, fact sheets, dimensions, descriptions, virtual demos, and much more — in one location in either the cloud or on a local server. From there, anyone can access any product information that’s needed, any time they need it.

In addition, PIM solutions are typically bundled with additional software. A common add-on is Digital Asset Management, which enables files to be shared easily throughout the company. Furthermore, files can be opened by multiple people and edited simultaneously, allowing for full collaboration across the entire team. Now, the sales and marketing teams know exactly where they need to go to access information, and the breadth of knowledge is shared among the entire organization — no more emailing around multiple iterations of the same spreadsheet and nobody knowing which is the correct version.

Perhaps the best feature of a PIM is its role in creating a product catalog. With all of the product information neatly organized within the PIM, it’s easy for the company to approach the production of its catalog. Even better, some PIM companies include a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) in their software bundles. Lumavate, a leading PIM solution provider, includes DXP software alongside its PIM program. This means that any company that uses a Lumavate PIM can also utilize the DXP software to easily create a digital catalog, making Lumavate one of the best product catalog management tools on the market. This is just one of the benefits that can be realized by using a Lumavate DXP and PIM.

The PIM Competitive Landscape

There are many companies that offer product catalog management tools. The top PIM providers include Plytix, Pimcore, Salsify, InRIver, Catsy, and Lumavate, among others. These companies offer a wide variety of functionality and price points. Businesses can get locally sourced or cloud-based PIM software, depending on their needs. In all cases, the goal of PIM is to help businesses organize their product information, which then allows the company to utilize that information more efficiently.

Where the programs really differ is what else is offered in the package. In an attempt to lure customers, PIM software developers typically include added perks, such as Digital Asset Management software and digital experience platforms. Generally speaking, the more add-ons, the higher the cost. Though some companies, such as Lumavate, keep the cost down, the industry’s trend towards adding additional functionality often results in a price point that may be prohibitive for some businesses.

Furthermore, too much extra content becomes overwhelming, distracting companies from what really matters to them. That’s why it’s important to make the right choice the first time when purchasing a PIM. Choosing the right PIM is essential in finding the product catalog management software solution for your business.

How to Choose a PIM

There is no universal one-size-fits-all solution available in the PIM marketplace. Every company has different needs and different budgetary concerns. Here are five things to consider as you assess what PIM solution might work best for your business.

  • What functionality do you need? Although many leading PIM companies offer a suite of programs with their PIM software, you might not necessarily need all of those add-ons. Most PIM companies offer a three-tiered pricing model that lets you access the things you need, while ignoring the features that aren’t relevant. However, it’s a good idea to consider your company’s future needs as well. You might not need certain capabilities now, but you might need them in the future — and if you do, you’ll want to be partnered up with a company that’s capable of meeting those needs.

  • What other systems do you need to integrate with? The best PIM companies, such as Lumavate, produce PIMs that integrate seamlessly with your company’s existing tech stack. Lumavate integrates with 40 programs right out of the box. The idea with incorporating new technology is for it to adapt to what you already have, without forcing you to overhaul your entire operation. Look for a software solution that works with your business, not against it.

  • How will the product information be used? The goal of product information management software is to organize your product information files for easy access. But that’s only half of the equation. How will you use that information once it’s organized? So, while it’s important not to purchase an overly bloated software package, it’s wise to buy a PIM with a defined goal in mind. If you want to make a product catalog, for instance, look for a PIM that also includes a Digital Experience Platform that makes catalog production as easy as possible.

  • What type of budget is defined for this initiative? Like software bundling, budget is another area where you’ll have to make some tough choices. Every company wants to get a good deal on anything they buy, but nobody wants to be stuck with a poorly performing PIM program that they come to regret purchasing. At the same time, too many unnecessary add-ins can make some PIM providers too expensive. Look at what you need first and foremost, and then consider the price after you know what you want and which PIM company works best for your business. In short, get the best catalog management software you can at a price your company can afford. But if you’re trying to decide between getting added functionality or saving a buck, err on the side of the better program. The peace of mind that comes with making the right choice is well worth a few extra dollars.

  • What is your timeline for implementing a solution? One of the best aspects of PIM software is its cloud-based SaaS functionality. In many cases, this means you’ll be able to use your new software almost immediately after purchase. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to set things up right away, but a quick implementation is always preferable to a lengthy installation process. Consider the impact of this transition when making your PIM purchase.

Though many companies excel in some of these areas, one company, Lumavate, scores high marks in every area. Lumavate aims to provide an all-encompassing experience at an affordable price point. Combining the best features available on the market in one program suite, Lumavate comes fully equipped with Product Information Management software, digital asset rights management, a digital experience platform, an online form builder, text messaging capabilities, and much more. Best of all, the Lumavate Product Information Management tools and Digital Experience Platform make it easy for any company to make its own digital catalog. And thanks to the cloud-based nature of Lumavate’s software, you can be up and running in virtually no time.

Cost for Creating a Product Catalog

By now, you know the undeniable benefits of creating a product catalog. But you’re probably also wondering something just as important — how much is this going to cost me?

The truth is, it all depends. If you use an old-school approach and rely on Excel to organize your product information, a catalog can take an extremely long time to produce. It will take hundreds of hours to create the catalog from scratch, then another 30 or so hours to update the catalog each year. It’s a massive investment of time and resources, and the output is a PDF catalog that’s bound to be obsolete in short order.

Using product information management software that’s linked with a digital experience catalog makes the catalog building and updating process exponentially quicker, not to mention far more simple. Take Lumavate, for instance. All of their plans feature both PIM and DXP functionality, meaning that any Lumavate customer can make their own product catalog. Once your product information and digital assets are loaded into the PIM, you can produce a catalog in virtually no time. In less than 30 minutes, you can build a comprehensive product catalog using Lumavate’s catalog management tools. That’s markedly faster than you could build a catalog using Excel or the tools of yesteryear.

In reality, the product catalog is practically free given how much the average business benefits from Lumavate’s tools. The Product Information Management, Digital Experience Platform, and Digital Asset Management are highly valuable properties whose applications go far beyond the creation of a digital catalog. Consider the benefits your company will derive from these programs, and then realize that you’ll get all of this and cutting-edge product catalog management functionality, all for a price far lower than the competition.

Steps for Creating a Catalog

Thanks to PIM and DXP tools like Lumavate, creating a product catalog from scratch has never been easier. Below is one catalog management example of how tools like Lumavate can help you create something special. Use these steps to help you get started with the creation of your very own catalog.

  • Determine the structure of your catalog. While there’s still room in the marketplace for a traditional print catalog, a digital catalog is easy to produce and can be quickly distributed. Best of all, people can shop directly from the catalog. If you’re going to make a digital catalog, there are a wealth of options at your fingertips. Go back to basics — what does a product catalog do? And how do you want your product catalog to stand out from the competition? Consider the catalogs that resonate with you and your team, and visualize the best features of those catalogs in your own production. Your new DXP and PIM technology can help to turn almost any vision into a reality.

  • Gather your product information. The hardest part of the catalog production process is obtaining all of your product information that you’d like to store in your PIM. That’s because people might have various files across your organization, and it takes time and effort to determine which version is the correct one to use. As you identify your product materials and the correct versions of data sheets, set them aside for safekeeping. Also, develop a process for new products and new product information, so that you don’t have to scramble around for information in the future.

  • Add your information to your PIM. Once you’ve gotten everything together, upload your product data to the PIM you’ve chosen. Be sure to keep your PIM organized and tidy — the cleaner your PIM, the easier it will be to create great content based on your product information. What should be included in a product catalog? Everything you’ve got. Think of your PIM as your product catalog management tools list. Fill that list with all of the information you have. And because it’s all stored in the PIM, the creation of your catalog is infinitely easier.

  • Create a digital experience. With your information stored in the PIM, it’s time to make your vision come true. Use your DXP software to create a digital masterpiece that comes to life when an interested customer browses your catalog. Link your PIM to the catalog so that up-to-date product information and facts are always available every time the catalog is accessed. Give shoppers every reason to trust what’s included in your catalog, and encourage them to learn more by clicking the links within the catalog.

  • Update your product data. As product offerings and specifications change, your catalog won’t need to change. That’s because your PIM and DXP solution will automatically update the information in your catalog. The beauty of working with a software company like Lumavate is that you don’t need to do anything additional when your product information is modified. It’s all tied directly to the PIM. When you update the PIM, the product changes as well. After all, what is catalog management? It’s not just presenting a list of products — it’s a living, breathing document that constantly shows the best features of the company. Thanks to modern technology, this is done automatically. It’s an incredible benefit, and one you’ll only receive when you partner with a company that offers both a PIM and DXP, like Lumavate.

The idea of creating a product catalog can be intimidating, and it can lead to a variety of questions. How do you manage a product catalog? Why is product catalog management important? And, most importantly, what tool do I use to make catalogs? The answers to these questions lie in product information management systems and Digital Experience Platform software solutions. 

Companies like Lumavate have been helping businesses around the world create stunning catalogs that link directly to their internal PIMs, and they can do the same for your business as well. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. With a product experience platform (PXM) solution, it’s never been easier to create a catalog that exceeds your wildest expectations.

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.