The top 5 product attributes for a hosted catalogue

Catsource work with a variety of suppliers and buyers.  Increasingly we hear from them that their purchasing decision is made in the procurement catalogue itself.

This means it is more important than ever to have good content to maximise your selling opportunities.

Think of your own experience buying products in a B2C marketplace such as Amazon or eBay.  Where there are multiple choices of supplier, you will expect to see rich product data enabling you to make an informed purchasing choice.

You are extremely unlikely to buy from a seller whose content is poor, or where it is not clear what you will actually get for your money.

We’re kicking off our series on e-Catalogue content with a high level overview of our top 5 eCatalogue product attributes.  We’ll be diving into further detail in due course!

PRODUCT NAME

Your product name is undoubtedly the single most important attribute to populate in a hosted or electronic Catalogue.  Whilst a 40 character name direct from your ERP system may be perfectly intelligible to your team, it isn’t necessarily understandable to a potential buyer.

In many procurement eCatalogues, the Product Name will be the main attribute initially visible when results are displayed from a user search.  As it will be alongside your competitors’ product names, it needs to stand out. 

The allowed product name length can vary significantly by procurement platform.  SAP Ariba accepts 50 characters for their short name field, for Amazon it is 150 characters.  Some will accept longer, although 255 is usually the maximum.

A concise but clear name should be used, outlining what the product contains. Include pack size if possible, especially where there exist multiple pack size variants of a single product. The use of identical names for similar products must be avoided.

IMAGE

One thing we constantly hear buyers requesting is for product images to be included in eCatalogues.   

Be honest – how comfortable are you buying a product you have never seen?  Even for a product where an image might not be terribly exciting, it’s still important that buyers can make a visual connection with the item.

Although some hosted catalogue platforms support multiple images, the requirement is typically for a single image. Often a thumbnail of this will be visible in search results, alongside competitor images.

If you lack a product image, or just use a placeholder such as your company logo, you immediately reduce your selling opportunities.  Some procurement platforms even allow users to filter out products with no image from their search results, meaning such items are not even seen at all!

PRICING

When a customer makes the decision to buy in the eCatalog it is important they see the correct price.  As the hosted catalogue is a static format this can be a challenge, and indeed is why many suppliers prefer to offer a Punchout catalogue instead.

A supplier can improve price compliance with a robust process to manage price approvals, co-ordinated with the appropriate Pricing, Contracts and Sales teams.  Prices should be validated prior to publication and an update process triggered when they are changed.

Scheduled updates for both list price changes and contract renewals are vital to ensure eCatalogue price compliance.

CLASSIFICATION

Buyers adopting a procurement application are looking to streamline and quantify spend.  An important aspect of this is to classify products into groups for spend reporting.

The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is the go-to product code in many procurement applications.  Now in it’s 22nd version, this well established coding allows for up to four levels of classification granularity. 

Some buyers may use different versions of UNSPSC, have created their own schema, or use an alternative such as eCl@ss.

As UNSPSC usage is widespread it makes for a good baseline classification for your products.  You can then map out your products from UNSPSC to other product classification systems.

SHIPPING

As your buyers drive towards increasing automation through the P2P process, they will expect to know how to handle products incoming to the warehouse. Are there hazards to be considered? Does the product ship on ice and need to be stored in a correct and timely manner?

For an increasing number of customers, it is important to have this information upfront.

Buyers will also expect an accurate lead time for delivery. 

Finally, your customers will want to know about any applicable delivery charges at the time of order placement.

There are of course many more components required for a great eCatalogue. Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Simon Towerzey
Lead eCatalogue Consultant and Director of Catsource Ltd.

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