Product data management (PDM) is the category of software used to organize, track, and disseminate product data. In manufacturing and distribution, product data management is used to make sure specs that detail how a product was made, like part descriptions and schematics, are readily available. While product data management is usually an internal process, this information can also be applied externally when selling products through a B2B digital catalog.

Manufacturers and distributors also need a clear system for presenting relevant product data to their customers. Displaying information in mobile order writing software and digital commerce solutions is a delicate balance: too much information leaves customers overwhelmed with more information that they need, and too little leaves them with unanswered questions. While product data management usually refers to the role of specs in manufacturing processes, it’s also a useful way to sell products and services when presented in a digital catalog.

Manufacturers and distributors know that in a competitive environment, every possible opportunity to meet and exceed customer expectations provides an advantage. Giving customers product information that’s easy to understand and use is an excellent way to win them over. B2B businesses building eCommerce portals can give retailers the detailed product data they want through an information-rich digital catalog.

Including Essential Product Data

Digital catalogs are a key part of a sales effort that includes both online and in-person channels. To stay competitive, content included in a digital catalog should:

  • Be chosen and presented in a way that’s easy for buyers to understand and use with minimum time and effort.
  • Provide everything a buyer needs to make their purchasing decision.

When creating or revising a digital catalog, first determine which data to include. Consider the following list of essential information as a starting point:

  • SKU
  • Title
  • Category or Group
  • Description
  • Dimensions
  • Images
  • Brand Name
  • UPC
  • Manufacturer Part Number
  • Quantity Available
  • Cost and Price Information (for Customer’s Pricing Tier):
    • Minimum Advertised Price
    • MSRP
    • Handling Cost or Fees

Grouping Product Data for Usability

Digital catalogs, and the product data they contain, need to be user-friendly. While one aspect of usability is through visual design—that is, no 6-point text or tiny images crammed on the screen—it’s also equally important to group product information for easy reading.

Grouping products that share characteristics or similar functions makes the purchasing process easier for buyers. The challenge for manufacturers and distributors is to organize products in ways that make the information easy to find and relevant to your industry or customer base.

And within each product listing, group similar data. Are all images located in the same place? Dimensions? What about pricing information? Create a logical information flow that makes it easy for the buyer to find the details they want to know.

Including Product Availability Data

Access to product availability data is a critical part of the digital catalog, particularly for B2B businesses who rely on regular shipments. Providing inventory data and “available-to-ship” dates prevents costly backorders, and letting buyers know when items will be back in stock help them plan their orders.

Keeping Your Product Data Accurate

Just as detailed and easy-to-read product listings provide the best sales results, continuous maintenance of those listings keeps your sales process successful.

Every time you introduce new products or change details on an existing product, you must edit the product listings as soon as possible. Doing so increases accuracy throughout your ordering process and prevents errors.

What product data do you consider essential for creating a great digital catalog? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.