Product catalog software is essential for optimizing your sales processes and making the management of many products easier. Here’a an example of a custom solution made by us, along with useful tips on how to create such software to achieve the best results – from the experience of the CEO of Pretius.
Product catalog software is an essential tool for most businesses. No matter what industry you operate in – media, finances, telco – a good solution of this kind can help you manage your offer, and optimize your sales processes. It can also make things considerably easier for your employees, especially people in charge of customer care.
Many companies use off-the-shelf solutions, but it’s not always the best choice for big businesses. Custom software is the best answer, but how to make a good solution? Here are some tips and ideas you can implement to make the most out of your product catalog software. In this article, I’ll also provide an example of a project Pretius has worked on in the past – to show you how it all works in the real world.
Product catalog software – advantages
Before we move on to practical tips, I’d first like to focus on the benefits of using a well-designed product catalog in your company. There are several things worth considering.
1.Centralized database for products and digital assets
Having information regarding all products and services in one place can help your employees access important information. It lessens the likelihood of errors and duplicated entries. It makes creating attractive offers to clients easier because sales representatives don’t have to look for details in various documents and Excel sheets, or different systems. For this reason, it could also be an invaluable boon during live presentations.
Digital asset management is also significantly easier. If centralize digital asset inventory, sales reps will be able to easily find and access the information and assets they need in their work – product features, price lists, product availability across channels.
2. Managing several sales channels in one place
Many companies use several sales channels at the same time – for example, their store, sales representatives, e-commerce through a website (an online store), and partners. If you use one system to manage these channels, you can make things considerably easier for your business and avoid some irritating issues. You can also use eligibility rules to control accessibility at the individual intersections (sales channel, user characteristics, etc.).
3. Automated transfer of data between environments
Many companies also face the issue of transferring offer configurations between various environments (dev, test, uat, prod). For example, when you start a new promotion, it usually requires you to create many entries, and moving them all between environments, one after the other takes a lot of time. A well-planned product catalog allows you to automate this process, which makes everything quicker and smoother. It often causes problems and it’s worth thinking about automation, and export/import tools during the design phase.
4. Online integration of systems makes promotion easier
Having one central product catalog allows you to quickly run promotions on multiple sales channels at the same time. There is no need to configure it in many different systems – they simply access information they require at one central point, where product data is stored. Such online integration of all systems can be very helpful.
Best catalog management software – how to build a good system?
There are several things you should remember when you set out to create a catalog management solution.
Centralize your product catalog
To be effective and truly useful, a product catalog needs to be centralized – in other words, you need to have one such solution, instead of several. Thanks to this you don’t have to map and translate data between various systems, which would make the entire catalog slower, less efficient, and reliable. Sure, technically you can do this and connect several platforms, but nine times out of ten it’s a road to disaster.
Separate the business and technical aspects
Product catalogs are usually built in the SID model and consist of two types of services: Client Facing Services (CFS) and Resource Facing Services (RFS).
- CFS – these are the commercial parts of your system, i.e. services you expose to your customers, products you offer for sale, etc. They’re essentially a realization of products and services your clients can purchase, and they change along with your offer and customer base
- RFS – Resource Facing Services are aspects of your product catalog customers don’t usually see. RFSs define technical attributes required for the management of products and services. In this context, resources are the software, technology, and hardware the system needs to operate
This division allows you to separate the business and technical aspects of your system. You can avoid unnecessary technical parametrization and provide the customer with a simple, easy to “digest” offer.
Use open standards and APIs
Thankfully, you don’t have to plan and do everything from scratch. The easiest way to create a good product catalog is to use open standards and APIs such as the TM Forum Framework. They provide you with a base you can customize to fit the specific industry, requirements, and needs of your client.
Use universal and re-usable RFS blocks
When you create RFSs for a new offer in your Product Catalogue, make sure they’re universal and re-usable, so that you can use them in multiple offers.
It’s also a good idea to expand their scope for future configurations. Such Ready-made RFSs will allow you to implement new offers in hours, instead of days, which is a huge advantage. It’s one of the best ways to optimize time-to-market.
Simplify your offers whenever you can
When you design your offers, always try to simplify them, if it’s possible. Creating complicated offers customized for various clients is tempting, but it takes a lot of time, and in many cases, you’ll be able to achieve the same result with a simplified entry.
Making another marketing offer for a client might sound a simple task for the marketing team, configuring its technical aspects can be hard. Creating RFSs is quite complicated, requires help from IT specialists, and can take many hours. Because if this, it’s easier and quicker to consider this at an early stage than to think about how to get everything into the product catalog swiftly later on.
If your offers are simple enough and you have re-usable, ready-made RFS blocks, your marketing specialists can make changes to the offers by themselves, which is a huge help.
Product catalog management software – examples from Pretius Projects
Here’s an example of a great product catalog we’ve created for our client in the media industry.
Product catalog for a well-known media company
This was a project for a very well-known, global media company that operates a VOD service in Poland. It was an interesting case because we didn’t have a lot of time to finish the project, and the client didn’t come to us with a precise list of requirements.
Instead, they used an example of an agreement between two companies to show us the business effect they wanted to achieve. They detailed how they cooperate, and asked us to design, create and implement a system that would fit their needs. We’ve analyzed this documentation and designed a system based on that analysis.
We’ve created a product catalog based on a normal structure with separated CFS and RFS services, but we’ve also added an element: eligibiliy rules that automated some of the processes. They were responsible for turning entries on and off, freezing and unfreezing them, etc. We had to create an engine that would manage these rules, and we’ve done this in a very “clean” way – all important scenarios were covered with just three rules.
Product catalog software – manage your digital assets with ease
Product catalog software is a necessity for businesses that rely on eCommerce. A centralized system makes managing offers and assets much easier, which is a huge help for sales representatives. It helps you keep inventory up to date, and use different sales channels more effectively. All of this translates into additional revenue, in one way or another. Automating the transfer of data between environments is yet another boon, resulting in even more saved time and money.
What’s more, product catalog management software isn’t all that hard to make, as long as you remember a few simple rules and tips. And if you need help, you can always ask someone who knows a thing or two about such systems. As you can see, we have experience with them. If you’re interested in cooperating, drop us a line at email@example.com or use the contact form below. We’ll see what we can do and get back to you in 48 hours.
Product catalogs FAQ
Here are answers to some of the most prevalent questions regarding product catalogs you can find on the Internet.
What is product catalog management?
Product catalog management is the process of creating a catalog of your products – a list with all the important details and information – and then ensuring it’s up to date. You have to regularly update all crucial data, and organize the catalog in a transparent, logical way so that sales representatives can easily use it on different sales channels.
Why is product catalog important?
A well-structured, intuitive product catalog helps the business sell its goods and services. It can boost conversion rates (and therefore revenue) because sales representatives have more time to spend on conversations with customers, instead of digging through data and calculating prices manually.