With mobile accounting for 30% of all B2B eCommerce sales, it’s imperative that suppliers of all shapes and sizes digitize their catalogs, for use by both customers and sales reps. If you’re using an eCommerce platform, then you likely already have a digital ordering platform of some kind. With this in mind, it’s important to look to optimizing your mobile product catalog along with your desktop one, and to understand the differences between the two.

Different device-specific catalogs fulfill different customer needs. In this post, we’re going to take a look at both customer-facing digital catalogs, exemplified by mobile eCommerce (or M-Commerce), and those mobile catalogs intended for use exclusively by reps for order writing. Mobile platforms present numerous opportunities to improve the quality of the ordering process, along with the number and consistency of purchases made by customers. We’re going to examine four key advantages that mobile product catalogs, tailored for handheld devices, can bring to both customers and reps.

4 Advantages of a Mobile Product Catalog

1. Mobile product catalogs streamline order writing for reps

As has already been mentioned, mobile product catalogs provide benefits for both consumers, as part of a comprehensive eCommerce portal, and also for sales reps. Where reps once had to write orders via manual methods like paper forms and Excel spreadsheets, modern mobile product catalogs equipped with order writing functionality allow them to write orders on their mobile devices and sync those orders automatically with back office systems.

The feature-richness of mobile catalogs also means that reps are able to provide customers with detailed, real-time information about products, promotions and tailored pricing and discount structures. Customer data––about past visits or previous buying patterns, for example––is also readily available to assist reps in the selling process.

2. Flexibility with offers and updates

One of the most useful benefits of mobile product catalogs comes from the ability to quickly update catalog information. When this is combined with the range of new mobile technologies, push notifications in particular, that enable communication with customers, it’s difficult to ignore the power of mobile. One of the key advantages of digital catalogs (both desktop and mobile) over traditional ordering methods is that they can be updated quickly in this way. New products, descriptions, real-time information such as stock levels, special offers, time-sensitive discounts…all can be monitored and updated from a central location, with changes appearing across all (or select) devices instantaneously.

With mobile, this adaptability goes a step further. Not only are suppliers able to make use of push notifications and in-app alerts, mobile eCommerce apps can also integrate with a variety of third-party services and tools like mobile payments and Bluetooth barcode scanners.

3. Data can fuel sales and performance

Along with speedier order writing for reps and increased flexibility in terms of updating catalog details and offers, mobile catalogs at both ends of the customer-salesperson spectrum provide a huge opportunity to use data to increase performance. Customized catalogs, tailored pricing, and access to “top products” and order histories are all features that allow customers to make quicker orders, particularly in environments that are suited to mobile ordering like on the shop floor.

The use of data is also allowing reps to make more informed, performance-driven decisions in relation to mobile order writing. It’s possible, for example, to tailor meetings and sales pitches based on clients’ past behavior and activity, make tailored recommendations based on structured data insights, and have immediate access to client notes and industry updates. From the perspective of the sales department responsible for tracking and monitoring the activity of reps, mobile catalogs can provide immediate sales figures whilst also enabling the consolidation of data with a view to understanding trends, customer behavior, and reaction to new marketing and promotional initiatives.

4. The ordering process is more immersive

Alongside the obvious backend technological benefits such as third-party app integration and automated ordering processes, mobile technology can also provide a deeply immersive buying experience, one that can ultimately lead to a higher amount of repeat sales. Real-time data in regards to stock levels, relevant discounts and logistics networks (such as delivery times) is one obvious area. The fact that high-res images can also be shown to customers is another example of the way that mobile technology is improving the quality of the buying experience.

This immersiveness also has another important dimension. One study puts mobile eCommerce abandonment rates at 97%. Whilst this figure does seem high, it points to a key fact about mobile usage. Most customers tend to use platforms tailored for mobile devices for research purposes, preferring desktop as the main method of ordering. Suppliers should respond to this by making sure to provide a native mobile app experience that makes it easy for customers to not only research products, but ultimately make purchases.

What are your thoughts about mobile digital catalogs? Let us know in the comments section below!