Catalog Data: What is it?

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What is catalog data? Simply put, catalog data is a collection of elements (descriptions, dimensions, photos, shipping information, SKUs etc… ) that describe or are connected to a collection of furniture.

Product data is information about a single item that describes the physical aspects of that product, its origins, and how that product is identified by your sales system.

Product metadata is the data about a product which is not necessarily a physical aspect of the item, but rather some intellectual information about it. It should also be considered product data.

Product metadata may include:

  • Its location

  • Its availability

  • Its review score

  • What other products it is related to

  • Other products people also buy or view

  • Where it appears in keyword searches

  • How many sellers there are for the product

  • Is it one of a number of variations

Elements of product data include:

  • Item number

  • Item name

  • Item cost

  • Item Category

  • Long Description

  • Short Description

  • Country of Origin

  • Style

  • Primary Color

  • Primary Material

  • Features

  • Dimensions

  • Shipping Info

  • Photos

  • MAP

  • MSRP

Product data and product metadata are important for two reasons -

1. Customers are more likely to buy a product with a good story and

2. Search engines scan product information for use in search results.

Incomplete and inaccurate product data and metadata make it less likely that your item will appear on the first page of search results.

"When a vendor compiles all of the information it has about the products it sells, we call this "vendor catalog data." Vendors usually share their catalog data via Excel spreadsheets.

Retailers who try to work with these spreadsheets quickly realize that the data is often incomplete, inaccurate or outright missing. This leads to their staff spending hours scraping information from vendor websites in the hopes of getting it right.

Why is it important for your staff to collect this information?

Poor catalog data impacts sales most in three areas: returns, customer loyalty, and shopping cart abandonment. Improving your catalog data will reduce returns, and cart abandonment, while increasing loyalty, so approach these improvements with a little flair.

Consider the differences between these descriptions of a table.

  1. Add a touch of Paris to your dining room with this French bistro-style table. The table base is constructed of long-lasting durable cast iron and crested with a dark russet wood top.  Finished in hand-brushed antique bronze, this table is an amazing addition to any dining space.

  2. French bistro-style table made of antique bronze cast iron and dark wood.

Which would you be more interested in buying? Which description offers you a better sense of the product you’re thinking about purchasing?

Compelling product data is a part of digital merchandising. If you’re in the home furnishings industry, you’re probably familiar with the concept of “retail merchandising” or “staging”.

Retail merchandising helps shoppers make decisions about what to buy, makes people feel good about shopping in your physical store, and most importantly, converts browsers into buyers.

Digital merchandising is similar to staging or retail merchandising - except it’s done on your website, with words, curated collections, good photography or videos, and plenty of descriptive details. Think of digital merchandising as a way to tell each product’s “story”. A good story means more customer engagement and more sales.

Why does merchandising, digital or otherwise, matter? It narrows the options a customer is considering, and helps them relax.

It’s easy for consumers to feel overwhelmed by all the good choices available to them. An overwhelmed shopper isn’t a happy shopper. An overwhelmed shopper is likely to give up and leave your website or physical store without purchasing anything.

Interestingly, Amazon employs an “endless aisle” to draw customers in, but hasn’t (so far) been much help to them when it comes to narrowing choices. They’re even implementing software solutions like Spark, the e-commerce giant's new shopping-oriented social network, and Instant Recommendations, to help ease decision making fatigue.

If you’re a furniture dealer with a website and a brick and mortar location, you’re already a step ahead of Amazon -  you don’t need to come up with sophisticated technology to help customers decide which item to purchase. All you need to do is share the item’s “story” to help shoppers make a choice that feels good and comfortable.