The Benefits of a B2B e-commerce Catalog
For as long as companies have had large amounts of inventory to sell, catalogs have been a valuable tool for them. From the Sears, Roebuck and Co catalogs of the late 19th century to the mountain-strewn vistas in the background of the Cabelas Sporting Goods catalogs of today, they serve as an important part of the customer shopping experience. But while it’s true retail catalogs have been a part of our commerce ecosystem for some time, that doesn’t mean retail is the only industry that can use them. Companies focusing primarily on business-to-business services can see a large sales lift from utilizing catalogs as well.
As retail catalogs continue to make the jump online to add e-commerce functionality, B2B organizations should also consider the benefits of going digital and creating online catalogs. Whether you have a print catalog you’ve been meaning to put online, or this is your first foray into B2B catalogs, we at Dirxion are here to walk you through the perks that a digital e-commerce catalog can bring to your business operations.
How Are B2B Catalogs Different From Retail Catalogs?
Before we jump into the pros and cons of B2B catalogs, it’s important to understand how they differ from retail catalogs.
B2B catalogs diverge from retail catalogs in four main ways:
• They’re evergreen
• They have much larger product offerings
• Often they are used as an internal sales tool
• They capture user intent
B2B Catalogs Are Evergreen
Retail catalogs usually exist for one purpose: to draw awareness to limited seasonal inventory and build interest. Think of a fall fashion catalog or a spring catalog from a furniture store.
Most companies providing services for businesses don’t have such a time-sensitive inventory. Their listings typically contain their entire available inventory for potential clients. While new lines of products may be added, and older models retired, it happens at a much slower pace.
B2B Catalogs Have Larger Product Offerings
Retail catalogs exist to point out specific sales, deals and pieces of inventory that need to shift fast. B2B catalogs contain the entirety of a company’s product listings. This lets B2B customers determine whether or not you have the specific product or service they’re looking for. As a result, B2B catalogs tend to be much larger and can carry thousands or even millions of listings.
B2B Catalogs Are Used Internally
With the immense volume of product listings your company may have, it’s no surprise that a given employee may not remember the exact specifications of every product or service you offer. B2B sales forces often use the product descriptions as a source of information as well as a sales tool. Because of this, good B2B catalog management is necessary to ensure that multiple parts of your business can continue to run smoothly.
B2B Catalogs Capture User Intent
Retail catalogs are used as marketing tools to build awareness of products. Users open them without knowing what they want. In essence, retail catalogs are a form of “window shopping.”
B2B buyers make purchasing decisions differently. They know what they’re after and they’re determining if you have it, if it’s high quality and what the cost is going to look like. User experience is more important to a B2B customer in a B2B catalog.
What Should a B2B e-commerce Catalog Include?
There are several things that absolutely must be included in a B2B e-commerce product catalog to make it exceptional. As discussed previously, user experience is one of the most important things in a catalog to a B2B buyer. They know what they’re looking for and are more interested in finding it fast.
To create a true B2B e-commerce solution, your catalog needs to be easy to navigate. Including a table of contents is a great place to start. Divide your catalog up into sections based on product usage, then divide them further into brands and product lines. Cross-referencing links should be present on product description pages to allow users to quickly find similar or other needed products.
Additionally, a robust and fast search function is necessary. B2B catalogs are big and contain a lot of product listings. Users should be able to search for a specific product or brand and be taken directly to that page.
A B2B catalog should be shareable. Users should be able to take a URL for a given product listing, send it to team members within their company and have everyone arrive at the same product page. These catalogs should have PDF download capabilities where a user can collect and print a page of products and SKUs that they can show to decision makers. For added functionality, SKUs should link directly to the website to integrate the catalog with the rest of your web ecosystem.
Finally, B2B e-commerce catalogs should be actionable. Users should be able to order a product right from the SKU number or should be able to create a wish list of products they can come back to and act on at a future date, turning the catalog itself into an e-commerce platform. This, above all else, sets e-commerce product catalogs apart from print catalogs.
What Are the Benefits of Going Digital?
Making your catalog digital opens a whole new world of user experience. The ability to find, share and buy products faster and with more accuracy makes e-commerce catalogs far more flexible than print catalogs. Increased sales and more exposure are just a couple of benefits to going digital.
Not only are B2B sales much easier with a digital catalog, but they also offer a higher degree of insight you can’t get with print catalogs. Dirxion gives you insight into an unparalleled level of analytics from your digital catalog. See what most users are looking at, what they’re searching for and where in the conversion funnel things may be breaking down. With digital catalogs integrated into the rest of your e-commerce web ecosystem, you get the data you need to produce a seamless customer experience and beat back the competition.
Dirxion Makes Digital B2B e-commerce Catalogs Easy
So what kind of effort does it take to incorporate such an integral part of your e-commerce business? With Dirxion, almost none. All you need to do is give us a PDF of your current catalog and linking materials such as a list of current SKUs, and we’ll do all the heavy lifting. We can even create custom URLs and host your catalog.
We have over 27 years of experience offering full-service, completely branded digital catalog services to B2B companies in a variety of industries. We employ a full team of developers to make sure your catalog is constantly maintained and updated with the latest in digital e-commerce solutions.
Have unique requirements? Chances are we’ve seen it. And if we haven’t, our team of expert developers has no problem helping you create a unique digital experience your customers will love.
Contact Dirxion today and let’s create a product buying experience your clients won’t forget!