Emilia Dunaj
Emilia Dunaj
Head of Technology Insights
January 2024, 12 min. read

Enhancing product experience (PX) can significantly influence your sales. Gone are the days of sifting through hundreds of product pages of print catalogs. Nowadays, website product catalogs take center stage. 

These modern web catalogs offer an interactive and dynamic way for businesses to showcase their products. They provide your team and customers with easy access to the latest product information to save time, help make informed buying decisions, and improve customer satisfaction. 

Keep reading to find out all about these modern digital catalogs, along with some real-life examples of this must-have software. If your company offers complex or extensive product lines, this article is for you. It’ll guide you on how tailored digital catalog solutions can elevate your product presentation.

What is a digital product catalog?

A web catalog is a digital tool that allows businesses to display their products on screen. It’s accessible online 24/7. It often offers interactive features so your customers can easily understand and engage with what you offer. Its main purpose is to automate your sales process. It introduces the range of products to users and provides all the necessary information to help them make a purchase decision.

A typical e-catalog will have all the product information that its printed version would have. It provides details about each product, like specifications, pricing, and availability, all in a user-friendly format. In addition, the advanced filtering and other features make it easy to search, select, and compare products. These functionalities make a huge difference for businesses offering diverse and detailed product lines.

YouTube video
Dynamic Product Catalog

Website product catalogs are versatile and can benefit a wide range of industries. This includes retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, service-oriented businesses, and many more. A product catalog system is highly effective in B2B environments. That’s where detailed product information and easy navigation can significantly enhance business interactions and decision-making.

Another strong feature is that you can update them in real time, ensuring that customers and your staff always have the latest information. This is a significant advantage over traditional paper catalogs or online PDF flipbooks, which are often outdated the moment they’re produced. 

Benefits of digital product catalogs

What are the unique challenges of complex product catalogs?

The structure of your online product catalog has a great impact on the user experience (UX), final purchasing decisions, and search engine optimization (SEO). A well-designed catalog ensures users don’t get lost in confusing product hierarchies. It enables users to find the right product instantly and access all necessary information easily.

Managing the sheer volume and variety of products is a critical challenge. When dealing with hundreds or thousands of items, each with multiple product variations and specifications, the task of catalog management becomes daunting.

Another significant challenge is ensuring the accuracy and consistency of product data. In complex catalogs, even a slight error in product information can lead to confusion and lost sales.

Customers need to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily despite the complexity of the catalog. This requires a well-thought-out structure and intuitive search and filtering capabilities.

When designing your digital product catalog software for a large product base, it’s important to consider the following questions:

  • How do users usually search for your products? Do they search by name, item number, or by the hierarchy?
  • Do customers use filtering by the parameters?
  • Will they need to switch between units, languages, and currencies?
  • Do you offer any market-related product ranges?
  • Are any of your product lines/families mutually exclusive?
  • Do you sell configurable products?
  • How can you guide new users to the right product in a minimal number of steps?

Finally, scalability is a vital factor. As a business grows and its product range expands, the software catalog should be able to scale accordingly without losing performance or usability.

Understanding product hierarchy and taxonomies

Placing the product in the right category is often a time-consuming yet critical task. Product hierarchy organizes and categorizes items in a way that simplifies navigation and item location for customers. This structure helps them easily find what they need.

In a typical website product catalog, such as one for HVAC systems, you’ll find products divided into broad categories at the top level, like ‘Compressors,’ ‘Thermostats,’ and ‘Ductwork.’ Within these categories, you’ll find further subdivisions, like ‘Rotary Compressors’ under the ‘Compressors’ category. This method of organization creates a clear and easy navigation path. It helps customers discover products more easily and enhances their overall experience.

Taxonomies go a step further, defining the naming conventions and classifications that organize these products logically. This involves creating mutually exclusive groups that improve navigation, a task that seems straightforward but can be challenging. 

So, in the ‘Compressors’ category, you can organize products by power rating, size, or application type. This organization lets users quickly find exactly what they need with just a few clicks.

For businesses, this hierarchy is a strategic tool. It influences how customers interact with the catalog, which products they see first, and how they perceive the range of products offered.

Product category example
Product family example

How to build a good catalog system?

Creating a website product catalog that converts involves several key steps. Here’s what you need to get started:

#1 Gather product data

The first step is collecting comprehensive data for every product. This includes basic product content, like product descriptions, specifications, and pricing, but also a range of multimedia and technical elements. 

CAD drawings provide detailed perspectives on products. Charts and graphs serve as effective tools for visualizing data. For products that require technical explanation, you can include mathematical and physical calculations.

High-quality product images and 3D renderings enhance visual appeal, while videos can offer dynamic product showcases. Integrating modern technology such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) allows customers to interact with products in a virtual space. 

#2 Structure products

Organize your data in a clear, consistent format for easy integration into your catalog. Once you have your product data, the next step is to categorize and structure it into a hierarchy. 

This hierarchy and taxonomy should be intuitive and logical, reflecting the way your customers think about and search for products.

#3 Design a product card 

In website product catalog design, the product card is a crucial element where customers make many purchasing decisions. It should effectively turn visitors into active buyers. Key elements include the product name, description, image, and a call to action (CTA). 

For B2B e-commerce, it’s essential to go beyond the basics. Include information such as extended technical specifications, availability, alternative and related products, and accessories. Advanced products might need tools for configuration or behavior calculations. A great product information example in your card could be a dynamic price display based on various conditions. 

Your product card should strike the right balance between fulfilling user needs and presenting the product appealingly. Do it right, and you’ll see the results in organic search traffic and sales figures.

#4 Find the right digital catalog software (ready vs. custom solution)

Finally, you need to choose the software to build your website product catalog. There are ready-made solutions available, but for complex product ranges, custom-developed software might be more suitable. 

A skilled software development team will tailor your app to your specific needs, allowing for greater flexibility and scalability. Key considerations include ease of use, integration capabilities, and ongoing support. 

Moreover, custom software can include advanced features like powerful product calculations and advanced searches based on selected parameters. These powerful features enhance the functionality and UX of your catalog. 

Key features to include in your website product catalog

Your e-catalog software can be more effective and user-friendly with these features:

Search and filtering capability

A robust search engine is vital. It should allow users to find products quickly using keywords, filters, categories, or unique attributes. This feature is particularly important for e-catalogs with a wide range of products.

Device responsiveness

With the increasing use of mobile devices, ensure that your catalog is mobile-friendly. It needs to look great and function well on all device types, from desktops to smartphones.

Rich media content integration

Add high-quality images, videos, and demos to your catalog alongside advanced features like AR/VR. These elements engage customers and showcase your products in an effective and interactive way.

Product endurance calculations

The system performs calculations based on various static and dynamic parameters, letting users see how even the smallest change in one variable affects others.

Interactive sizing tools

Easily find the right size for specialized products based on industry standards and project needs, ensuring they fit your requirements perfectly.

Dynamic dimensioning tools

For technical projects, quickly calculate the exact space or configuration needed for products, guaranteeing a precise fit and simplifying the selection process.

Guided selling feature

Make the selection process easier for customers with step-by-step assistance, helping them navigate complex purchasing decisions.

Recommendations and suggestions

The tool smartly suggests items that complement or match the customer’s current choice. This feature helps customers to pick everything they need for their project, ensuring compatibility. 

Product comparison

Allow customers to compare different products side-by-side, helping them make informed decisions based on features, prices, and other criteria.

Customization options

For complex products, providing a product configurator option can be beneficial. Allow customers to view different variations or build their own product configurations.

Multilingual support

Offering support for multiple languages and metric systems helps break down geographical barriers and reach a global audience.

Brand alignment

Your digital catalog should match your company’s branding and web design. This way, it strengthens brand identity while offering a seamless visual experience for your customers, reinforcing your professional image across all platforms.

Integration capabilities

Ensure that your catalog integrates smoothly with other business systems, such as inventory management, CRM, B2B portals, online stores and quoting platforms.

Analytics and insights

Equip your e-catalog with tools for analyzing customer behavior and preferences, helping in product and marketing optimization.

The more this tool automates sales processes, the less time your sales team spends on routine tasks. This efficiency frees them up to focus on higher-value activities, such as customer engagement and strategic sales planning.

How to manage complex product catalogs?

Effective management of complex product catalogs starts with data management. Creating a centralized source to store and manage all your product data is key. This centralization ensures that everyone in your organization accesses the same, up-to-date information, leading to consistency across all channels.

To achieve this, implementing a Product Information Management system (PIM) is crucial. It helps manage and distribute product information efficiently. 

A good PIM system streamlines updating product details. All you have to do is make the product content update in one place. The system updates it across all linked platforms, listing your products.

The quality of your product data is vital. It should be accurate, detailed, and consistently presented. With high-quality data, your customers will navigate your online tool catalog with ease to find exactly what they are looking for with just a few clicks.

The right software and management practices will establish you as a reliable and trustworthy expert in your field. This trust builds a loyal customer base who is more likely to return. Your customers will know that they can depend on your catalog for accurate information and a stellar PX.

Advanced product catalog examples

Right Information specializes in making tailored digital sales software solutions for businesses with extensive, complex product assortments. We’re experts in efficiently managing website product catalogs with thousands of items. We equip our software with advanced design features like size and selection tools, dynamic product capabilities calculations, and more to handle every detail with precision.

Now, let’s look at some specific case studies that highlight our successful projects.

Extensive online catalog software for construction solutions

This example illustrates the transformation from printed catalogs to a digital platform, simplifying product selection in industrial automation. Right Information developed a customized online catalog for a company with an extensive range of over 27,000 standard products in the construction industry. 

The solution features a product selection tool that performs advanced searches based on specific parameters, allowing for efficient navigation and product selection. 

A website product catalog example featuring a product selection tool
A website product catalog featuring a product selection tool allows users to simulate product behavior under various conditions

Users can simulate product behavior under various conditions, ensuring they find the best match for their needs. 

To learn more about this product catalog example, check out the article on the Online Catalog and Product Selection Software.

Electronic catalog software for safety devices

For this global manufacturer specializing in explosion prevention and protection, Right Information created a sophisticated e-catalog with an intuitive product selection feature. 

The tool, accessible via the client’s website, allows users to find products based on input specifications and perform dynamic calculations. 

An online catalog software example with dynamic calculation functionalities
A bespoke online catalog software can perform dynamic calculations and offers interactive graphs for better understanding

It supports multiple languages and diverse measurement units, offering interactive graphs for better understanding. This solution significantly streamlined our client’s sales processes and expanded its reach to new markets.

To read the full case study, go to the Product Selection Tool for Flame Arresters article.

Online and desktop product catalog for HVAC systems 

Right Information developed a comprehensive solution for a leading European ventilation equipment company. This robust platform includes a PIM system connected with global laboratories and advanced tools for selecting and configuring products like fans, air handling units, and heat recovery units. 

An online and desktop product catalog example for complex product bases
A tailor-designed product catalog platform is accessible both online and offline, improving the client’s data management and product selection process

Equipped with CFD calculation modules, the platform is accessible both online and offline, improving the client’s data management and product selection efficiency. For more complex project creation, users need to log in, ensuring a secure, personalized experience.

You can find more information about this digital catalog example in the Online HVAC Product Selection Program case study.

Summary

Technology-powered digital catalogs bring a new level of engagement and efficiency to showcasing products. They provide an intuitive and interactive platform that enhances user experience but also streamlines the management of extensive product ranges. It’s this innovative approach that marks the difference between a good catalog and a great one, a platform that customers continually enjoy and return to.

Ready to apply these insights to your business? Contact us for expert guidance and tailor-made digital catalog solutions that meet your unique needs. 

Let’s transform how you showcase your products today!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Are online catalogs and electronic catalogs the same?
    You’ll find using online catalogs and electronic catalogs terms interchangeably, but they have subtle differences. You specifically design online catalogs for internet use and access them via a web browser. They are hosted on servers and you can update the content in real time.

    E-catalogs, on the other hand, can include any digital catalog format. This includes a downloadable PDF or an interactive software application that might not require internet access. While both serve the purpose of digitizing product information, online catalogs are more dynamic and typically offer real-time data and interactivity.
  2. What is an example of a product catalog?
    A product catalog example could be an interactive brochure for a business manufacturing and selling jet engines. This catalog would feature detailed product information about various jet engine models, including their technical specifications, performance data, pricing, and high-quality images. Each product in the catalog has a clear, easy-to-navigate layout, designed for aerospace industry professionals and clients. This layout is specifically tailored to help them find specific jet engine types and configurations efficiently.
  3. Why is digital catalog important?
    A digital catalog is key for modern business. If your products aren’t online, your sales team could miss out on an enormous market. Interactive digital catalogs, especially B2B catalog software, make it easy for more people to browse and select your products anytime and anywhere. This online presence is essential for expanding your reach and staying competitive.
  4. Why an online catalog is better than a paper catalog?
    The right catalog management software brings your products closer to your customers. It’s more accessible and environmentally friendly. You can update product information instantly, and it allows for interactive features like instant purchasing or product comparisons. Additionally, it can provide technical calculations, responsive graphs, videos, and 3D views, offering a rich, immersive experience that paper catalogs simply cannot match.
  5. What is product information card?
    A product information card is a crucial element in catalog software design. It typically includes the product’s name, a clear image, a concise description, price, and any special features, specifications, and visualizations. It gives customers a clear and full view of the product. This helps them easily compare and decide on products in the catalog.