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Printed catalogs were once a significant part of many companies’ marketing efforts. Businesses and individuals alike often received several catalogs in one day’s mail. Customers could browse through the catalog at their convenience, and if they wanted to place an order, they could return the order form or call the company.

The Internet has changed the buying process

In today’s digital world, printed catalogs are becoming outdated. Customers want to make purchases when it is convenient for them. They do not want to wait to place an order during a company’s business hours, and they do not want to mail their orders. They are used to having instant gratification of their desires, so when they decide they want to purchase an item, they want the ability to do so immediately.

How a digital product catalog can help your business.

Sell what’s in-stock by showing current product inventory

Customers do not want to discover that the item they want to purchase is no longer in stock. This scenario happens frequently with paper catalogs. It takes a long time to take a paper catalog from design to printing, and the actual mailing process merely adds to the delay. By the time that customers are physically holding the catalog, it may already be outdated. New arrivals cannot be added after printing, corrections cannot be made and special promotions cannot be added to give customers additional incentives to make a purchase.

Cross-sell related products with ease

Cross-selling can be facilitated. For example, if a buyer selects a product that requires additional components, the installation kit can be automatically suggested.

Highlight new products and company news in real-time

With an electronic catalog, customers have access to all of the latest news about your products. If desired, you could add new arrivals every day, offer discounts with extremely short duration or update items to show colors or sizes that are no longer available. New products can be added or obsolete products deleted whenever needed. Prices can be easily changed or temporary specials can be offered.

Reach consumers on mobile devices

One mistake that many businesses make, however, is to make their electronic catalogs available only in a format for desktop computers. Recent studies suggest that over 50 percent of many companies’ sales are placed via a mobile device. A custom mobile catalog app can help you boost your sales by engaging customers who need or prefer to place orders using a smartphone or tablet.

Increase customer engagement with your brand

Digital catalogs provide a platform for enhancements to increase impact. Audio or sound effects can increase interest. Videos, such as a demonstration of a product in use, can not only increase impact, but they can also make buyers feel more confident in their decisions.

Provide a valuable internal resource to sales and support teams

Sales and marketing teams have access to the complete product line to assemble deals, such as packages consisting of multiple products. Marketing campaigns can be planned and deployed faster, making it easier to offer campaigns that are limited in time or scope.

Links to the company’s email, online chat or telephone number can make it easy for the shopper to find contact information. Communications both ways can be much more efficient.

Printed catalogs can be easily converted to a digital format. The digital version can then be offered in a variety of formats, such as accessible online only through the website or as a downloadable file that the user can save to their computer.

How to know it’s time to update your existing digital product catalog solution.

When it comes to their product catalog software, many businesses adopt a, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. For some situations the old phrase rings true, but in the case of this critical piece of software, keeping the status quo can cost your businesses dearly. That’s why you should ask yourself “Is it time for your business to update its e-commerce product catalog software?”

Here are a few questions to help you figure out whether or not it’s time for an upgrade:

Are you still using an off-the-shelf or plug-and-play product catalog solution?

It isn’t uncommon for a business to start off with off-the-shelf e-commerce software, but to then outgrow it as the business expands. It may be time to update your product catalog software if your business has developed but your catalog software has not.

Does it take longer than it should to update or manage product or catalog information?

This may be a good sign that your product catalog software is no longer meeting the needs of your business. A customized solution can both save you time and improve accuracy with every update or change.

Does your software workflow match your business workflow?

The problem with many software solutions is that they are intended to work for a wide audience, but at the expense of forcing users into a workflow that may or may not fit their business workflow. It may be time to update your product catalog software if it doesn’t match your business workflow.

Is your product catalog causing your business to lose money because of missing features or because it is complicated to use?

Product catalog software that does not work the way you need it to can cost you money on every transaction; this is because customers may go elsewhere if they can’t find what they are looking for very quickly and easily. Your software should fit your business needs and more importantly, your customer’s needs. If your product catalog is costing your business money, it may be time to consider updating.

Learn more about digital product catalogs

Product catalogs have been an important selling tool for more than 100 years. From “wish books” distributed to consumers to parts catalogs for B2B sales, catalogs give both retailers and wholesalers a platform to present all of their products in a consolidated, attractive format. However, considering the high price of printing, the increasing costs of postage and the explosive growth of online sales, a digital catalog is often a cost-effective marketing tool.

Having the right tools will give you a clear advantage in the marketplace. PhaseAlpha specializes in the custom development of business solutions like product catalog software. Contact us by calling 913-648-9200 or e-mailing info@phasealpha.com to learn how we can transform your vision into reality.