Bringing Catalogs into the Digital Age with PIM

In recent years, product catalogs have been rumored to be a dying breed. Yet as the digital age rolls on, one thing remains clear: Catalogs are far from dead. In fact, considering the importance of an omnichannel marketing strategy, their role may be more relevant than ever.

New research just released from Multichannel Merchant (MCM) confirms this trend. Nearly all marketing respondents to the 2018 MCM Outlook survey (84.2 percent) said they continue to use catalogs as a channel for reaching their customers.

Still, an ineffective catalog campaign can be a costly mistake without the right product information management (PIM) strategy to back it up. This article discusses three key ways to bring your catalogs into the digital age.

#1: Curate a Brand Experience

Catalogs have long been a fixture of the consumer and buyer experience—from their most practical purpose of placing an order to the emotional connection that certain catalogs conjure up.

Retail leaders agree that successful catalog strategies focus on inspiring customers with ideas, creative visuals, and curated brand experiences. Examples include the beloved Sears Wish Book or the Harry & David holiday catalog. Bed Bath & Beyond designs catalogs with inspirational room settings, including many items that aren’t found in their physical stores. This creates a sense of exclusivity and excitement for customers who receive the catalog.

Effective catalogs must tell a cohesive brand story and inspire customers. Utilizing a PIM solution helps retailers deliver compelling content that goes beyond basic product specs and pricing by offering images, reviews, videos, descriptions, and even virtual 3D and augmented reality experiences like EnterWorks’ Storeytelling concept.

#2: Connect Channels

Catalogs have taken on a crucial new role in multichannel marketing. In addition to their traditional job in direct sales, they now serve as “valets” that guide customers to digital sales channels. The goal is to immerse your customers in an environment of seamless purchasing opportunities.

Catalogs can be a great resource for driving shoppers online when e-commerce or social sites are intertwined throughout the publication.

Once online, customers often find additional merchandise to purchase. Upselling and cross-selling opportunities are more easily presented.

The key to this strategy lies in the ability to provide consistent product content across channels, with capabilities to connect and track relationships between products, customers, locations, and more. A PIM solution enables organizations to compete with content that is centralized, synchronized, and easily syndicated.

#1: Focus on Analyzing Results and Understanding Your Customer

Determining the ROI of your catalog campaigns can be a difficult task. Just a little over half (57 percent) of MCM survey respondents say they use a formal program to track a catalog’s effectiveness. Many track performance in terms of response analysis and “matchbacks,” though that provides a limited view of effectiveness.

To get a complete picture and make adjustments, retailers must really understand their customers and how they interact across touchpoints. Knowing your customer helps you push the right content to the right channel at the right time. Utilizing PIM and Master Data Management (MDM) can help connect the dots between data domains—including product, customer, and more—enabling organizations to analyze results, nurture customer relationships, and ultimately boost your ROI.

Incidentally, you can also leverage PIM to impact your ROI by reducing the inefficiencies of catalog creation. For example, one EnterWorks PIM B2B customer shortened production for a 2,200-page catalog by 70 percent, reducing resource requirements by half, and cutting inaccuracies from 25 percent to less than 5 percent.

The New Catalog Approach

The key to extracting the most value from catalog content today is to use PIM/MDM technology to:

  • Centrally manage content to ensure consistency and accuracy
  • Repurpose it across all print and digital channels
  • Streamline and automate tasks involved in catalog design and production

What are the benefits of PIM-powered publishing?

A PIM solution helps retailers achieve cross-channel integration, as well as collect and manage the data necessary to better understand customers and how they prefer to shop. Retailers are able to reach customers with the complete product assets and details they desire to make informed purchases.

Immediate benefits and efficiencies arise from having a single repository available to all business users including marketers, store personnel, logistics, trading partners, and customers. A shared view reduces errors and inconsistencies, as well as the labor involved in creating quality content and publishing catalogs. This also leads to faster product launches and promotions. Ultimately, improved customer satisfaction reduces return rates and generates brand awareness and loyalty.

For catalog publishing, since all content lives in a single repository, the publication process becomes faster, more collaborative, highly automated, and less error-prone. Retailers can leverage compelling content to drive traffic across channels, with the ability to monitor and track customer data and performance for a better ROI.

Want to learn more? Check out this EnterWorks Case Study to explore how our customer Orgill utilizes a PIM/MDM solution to transform its catalog process.

Kerry Young

Kerry Young

Kerry Young joined EnterWorks in 2006 when Ennovative, Inc., the multi-channel publishing software company he co-founded, was acquired by EnterWorks. He directs EnterWorks’ operations and leads EnterWorks’ professional services and consulting organization, ensuring effective customer implementations and ongoing success. Mr. Young brings more than 25 years of technology and business management experience to EnterWorks, having served as CTO for a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, and earlier as VP, Information Technology for Marshall Industries, a $1.7 billion industrial electronics distributor. He previously managed information systems for a subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas Corporation. Mr. Young holds a B.S. degree in Computer Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and an M.B.A. from California State University Fullerton.