Managing your eCommerce catalog is difficult. You could have thousands of SKUs to publish across many different sales channels.
It’s easy for your product data to become messy and inconsistent. It’s tedious and time-consuming to continuously update and manage your data.
It’s why many merchants end up settling for subpar product information.
In this article, we’ll explain some common challenges that merchants face when managing their eCommerce product catalog. We’ll then show you what you can do to improve it.
7 Common Challenges of eCommerce Catalog Management
Here’s our list of 7 common challenges of product catalog management. As an eCommerce seller, do any of these sound all too familiar?
1. Updating Products Constantly
Depending on the type of products you sell and where you sell them, some merchants have to continuously update their SKUs.
This could be because of constant price changes, listing newly available products, or other various reasons. Without proper management, this can be a real hassle for merchants.
Every day, you could spend a significant amount of time fine-tuning your items so that you can list them. This is time taken away from other important tasks such as marketing, operations, and your customers.
2. Selling Across Multiple Channels
Any merchant who sells in 2 to 3 channels can usually agree that one of their biggest challenges is listing their products simultaneously.
If you sell on your eCommerce site, Amazon, and eBay, listing your product is complicated. It’s even more complicated if you sell on multiple branded sites.
The challenge is that each channel has its own requirements for how your product must be listed. Amazon’s product categories are different from eBay’s. How you list your product on Amazon shouldn’t be how you list your item on your own site.
Merchants shouldn’t list their product the same way on Amazon, eBay, and your site. When you do, you usually end up leaving product listings incomplete or confusing. Your products could not even be listed in the right place.
This isn’t going to meet your customers’ expectations. They won’t be able to find your product. If they do find it, they won’t have enough information to make them feel confident that they’re buying the exact item they want. They’ll buy from your competitor who does.
Most merchants understand how important this is. But, a lot still don’t tailor their product listings to the channels they’re selling on. They don’t because they don’t have an efficient way to create multiple listings for the same product.
For those who do try to tailor their listings, they often end up spending hours within messy data. They’re slow to go to market with their products and usually still make listing mistakes.
Without the right tools, this is a common challenge that eCommerce sellers need help overcoming.
3. Dealing With Supplier Data
Working with product data from 3rd-parties, such as suppliers, also poses a challenge for merchants.
Suppliers often hand over product data over to merchants that has bare minimum information. Several product attributes probably aren’t included.
The little information that they do provide is also probably in the wrong format. You might always spell color green as “GRN”, but the supplier spells it “gn.”
Suppliers don’t sell directly to consumers. They don’t need to standardize their product information the same way that you do.
These are nuisances that you’re going to have to fix before you can thinking about publishing product listings. Having to clean this data up can take weeks for some companies.
It slows down your process and can make managing your eCommerce catalog problematic.
4. Expanding Your Product Catalog
When your product catalog is already a mess, it’s hard to add more SKUs.
You either have to go back and clean up your SKUs, or you have to live with inconsistent product data quality. This makes it a challenge for merchants to expand their product catalog.
They may not have the resources or time to fix these types of problems. It discourages them from growing their business.
5. Keeping Data Quality Consistent
Many of the previous challenges we talked about above affect the quality of your data. It’s hard to maintain data when expanding your catalog, working with suppliers, and publishing on multiple sales channels.
Your products can end up having misspelling, missing information, and just plain wrong descriptions or attributes. When you’re managing large amounts of SKUs in Excel or your eCommerce platform, it can be overwhelming to establish and maintain a consistent standard.
Excel wasn’t built for eCommerce catalog management. You aren’t going to have the robust tools you need to update your product data. You’ll only have your employees to rely on to make mass updates and changes, which can easily lead to human error.
Most merchants end up publishing or listing products with missing and inconsistent information.
This isn’t a good experience for your customers who are demanding rich, accurate, and consistent product listings.
6. Centralizing Where Your Manage Your eCommerce Catalog
Many eCommerce merchants don’t have a centralized place where they can view and manage all of their product data.
They might have multiple spreadsheets floating around different departments of the company. Their eCommerce products might live only in their eCommerce platform, while brick-and-mortar product data lives in Excel or a POS system.
Without a designated place to centralize this data, merchants struggle to have a single-view of their product data. This leads to data quality problems and ease of listing the same products across multiple channels.
It’s a pain to search and update products across different places where it’s stored. It causes a pretty big headache for merchants dealing with product information.
Customers today have high expectations for product information. They demand accurate, high-quality product information that gives them the detail they need about your product.
To meet this need, merchants have to spend a lot of time merchandising, or making their product data customer-ready. They have to enhance their products with multiple attributes, worry about re-pricing, and provide detailed descriptions.
This is challenge for retailers , especially if they are working with data from multiple sources like suppliers. They have to have a rigorous process for updating and enhancing product data to make it customer-ready.
These are 7 major problems that merchants deal with when managing their eCommerce product catalog. To overcome these types of challenges, merchants have to make product information one of their top priorities.
Once you make it a top priority, you’ll see the value in investing in the resources you need to properly manage your product data. (Hint, it’s not Excel or your eCommerce platform.)
Product Information Management (PIM) System
To solve these types of challenges, merchants are investing in Product Information Management, or PIM systems.
PIM systems are designated software that helps merchants centralize, manage, and list their products across many sales channels. They help merchants standardize data through robust tools that clean up product data from different sources.
PIM systems should save merchants from spending hours and weeks just cleaning up product data. Merchants ideally should be able to easily merchandise and list rich, high-quality product data across all of their channels.
To see what other type of functionality that a PIM helps an eCommerce seller with, check out nChannel’s PIM system.
What to Do Next
Product Information Management is an important topic for today’s retailers. To keep learning about it, check out these other posts: