There’s no denying that more and more businesses are jumping into the B2B e-commerce space now more than ever before. According to Forrester, the online B2B market is forecasted to grow from $899 billion at the end of 2017 to $1.2 trillion by 2021.
As B2B e-commerce continues to grow and develop, online product catalogs are rapidly gaining popularity. Online catalogs allow sellers to quickly adjust active products’ pricing, availability, and other details, in real time rather than the stagnant reality of print catalogs. Buyers can browse digital catalogs online anytime and from any location in which they have internet access. Even more, sales representatives can easily maneuver through digital pages via their laptop or iPad, rather than shuffling through copious amounts of paper.
If your business hasn’t created an online B2B e-commerce catalog, now is a good time to get started. Because digital catalogs aren’t a one-size-fits-all product, the first step in creating an online product catalog is drafting a solid blueprint to help map out your overall plan.
So, what exactly does that entail? Continue reading as we map out the key steps in creating a blueprint for your company’s online catalog. Be sure to come back for parts two and three of this series as we’ll be discussing both content and personalization in the near future.
Creating a successful online product catalog will be much more effective with input from the proper stakeholders. Take time to assemble the right team from the beginning to ensure your project runs efficiently and on time.
As the front-line person, sales representatives are aware of buyer pain points and they know what’s important to their clients. Don’t underestimate the value of your sales people, they can provide valuable insight. Having a dependable web design and development team will ensure that ideas can be supported on an online platform. Of course, your project will also need buy-in from the management team.
Your company’s B2B digital catalog should be designed based off your customer’s buying patterns, so knowing your target audience and their buying behavior is key to creating a successful B2B online catalog. What works for some industries will not work for others. Below are three ways in which you may choose to organize your catalog:
The organization of any B2B digital catalog should be driven primarily by your customers' buying patterns. If you're selling products seasonally, for instance, and you’ve categorized your catalog by product type, you will face problems showcasing seasonal collections to customers.
If you sell multiple licensed brands or product lines then this organizational method will likely be best suited for your company. Buyers will access your online catalog and immediately view the brands or product lines they are most interested in purchasing.
Alternately, seasonality might be a key part of your business. If that’s the case, organizing products by season will help ensure that buyers are viewing seasonally appropriate products and it will also help your business conduct any pre-season selling or off-season sales initiatives.
There’s nothing wrong with incorporating a hybrid approach. However, be careful that you don’t start adapting too many ways of organization because your goal should be to keep it simple.
Creating a productive team and determining your consumers buying patterns are the first step in the B2B catalog process. Once you had a plan in place you are ready to move to the design stage, which includes quality photography, writing concise product descriptions, branding, and more. You will have the opportunity to read about that in our next blog post, which will be released on Thursday, March 5th.
WebRevelation is a full-service website development company specializing in the B2B E-commerce industry. We have over a decade of experience helping small and medium size businesses take their business to the next level with carefully designed modern websites and applications. Contact WebRevelation for a complimentary consultation.