Today’s customers browsing e-commerce marketplaces demand consistent product information with the correct specifications. Incorrect information has far-reaching consequences, which we have highlighted in an earlier blog which you can read here. As a result, if you are conducting business online, you can no longer take a chance without a proper product catalog management system.
In this blog, we’ll cover what a catalog management system needs to have in terms of quality controls and checks to ensure your content is free of errors and consistent across channels.
Why is Catalog Management Important?
A product catalog management system provides a strategic process of managing your e-commerce product catalog. It also ensures the product content is consistent across all sales channels, whether on your website or any marketplace you’re doing business.
If you’re a large enterprise selling on multiple online channels, you will be dealing with many product categories and selling on marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc. Each of these marketplaces has their own specific formats, and if you are updating your catalog frequently, those changes have to reflect in multiple places.
What Should You Look for in a Catalog Management System?
Before investing in product catalog management, make sure it can manage data quality problems and rectify them before publishing. Below we have listed a few pointers you can use to judge any data management system for e-commerce:
1. Flexible and Editable Taxonomy:
Every catalog management system should be functional out of the box. And for e-commerce operations where there are a wide variety of product categories to process. So a product management system should make it easy for adding or removing classes, modifying interlinking of products and hierarchy. The system should make it easy for an operations executive to make these changes, and there shouldn’t be any need for a developer. Ideally, an Edit Taxonomy dashboard should be available for easy accessibility.
2. Open Architecture for Validations:
A rule engine or tool for catalog management should make it easy to add or remove validations or modify reference databases and APIs. It should also be able to customize the application of the above fields across the taxonomy classes of the entire product catalog to streamline the production workflow. All this should be done without destabilizing other validations.
3. Customizing Exceptions and Guidelines:
As the product catalogs for e-commerce operations are subjective and diverse, any standardized validations for product titles, specifications, dimensions, etc. will have exceptions. Your catalog management system should be adept enough to accommodate and manage these exceptions. Furthermore, it should have a dashboard in place for your team to make and manage exceptions without requiring a developer to tweak the backend.
4. Manual Override:
The e-commerce industry is dynamic, and guidelines or formats for product catalogs keep evolving constantly. And when these updates are rolled out by the marketplaces, you should be able to adapt to the changes and ensure minimal downtime. To ensure that while the changes on your backend take place, the auto-correct functions should have provisions for a manual intervention to edit/undo the parameters of the rule engine.
5Version Control and Change Management Log:
The manual override system listed above will require a thorough change management log. It is crucial to track all changes to the format and rules of the system. Moreover, there should be a provision where the product content is stored at every version in case you have to rollback to a previous state.
What to Do Next?
Above, we have listed a few reasons you should look for in a catalog management system. It has been proven that well-maintained catalogs help in improving customer experience and in turn sales.
Most of the data quality systems available today such as Oracle EDQ, SAS Data Quality, and IBM InforSphere were designed before the e-commerce boom. These were created especially for managing sales databases, and they aren’t always the best fit for the requirements for e-commerce.
The use of these systems is limited as they do not offer any customizable capabilities. Moreover, their focus is on processing volumes of data, while relinquishing QA best practices standards such as Six Sigma.To streamline your product catalog and ensure it is free of errors, you will require specialized tools and systems designed specifically for the e-commerce industry. Using a workflow tool in conjunction with a QA rule engine can synergize your entire content creation process. Lastly, you will require an established solutions partner to implement such a system that is tailored to your e-commerce catalog management challenges.