Similar to the challenge of updating prices is the challenge of updating stock.
For some companies, especially those in the B2B space, this particular point may not apply to you. If you provide a service or software license, for instance, you theoretically have an unlimited stock (so long as you have the capacity to keep up with all those orders).
But for those reliant on wholesale distributors, third party vendors, and other businesses for critical parts and products, sudden stock shortages can be a severe drain on your organization. And if you’re still leaning on a catalog for your e-Commerce, this poses real problems with ordering and compromises your ability to please the customer.
The solution, once again, is to be able to make changes to available stock levels on the fly and see those changes filter outward to all other systems and solutions that track stock.
This has traditionally been accomplished by custom integrations, a time-consuming and rather arduous process, but it’s now possible to conduct the same operations much more quickly via APIs that facilitate the sharing of data.
When stock is updated in one platform, APIs ensure the information is sent to all requisite platforms and updated at once. In this way, you’ll never have to worry that what your customers see in your online marketplace isn’t indicative of what you’re actually able to sell them. You’ll also gain confidence that your noted shipping times are precisely what is listed, reducing customer complaints and keeping your sales cycle intact.
We’ve hinted at this in the above two points, but a catalog doesn’t do one critical thing? Integrate with all other aspects of your business.
It’s not uncommon, even within small businesses, for a catalog or e-commerce platform to exist on an island. It’s a separate software within the organization. And it may hardly be alone in its status. Accounting may use one type of software to track profit and loss. Your sales team may work within a different silo. Your marketing and advertising teams may work with something else entirely for customer outreach. And shipping may operate on a totally different system too.
This poses challenges for the business that’s trying to be nimble enough to compete with the world’s leading providers of goods and services. You need to be able to integrate these disparate solutions with one another, keeping your team nimble by minimizing manual work.
Again, one of the best ways to do this is through APIs that seamlessly exchange the data you need for your business operations. If you can create one source of truth for your various teams and platforms, you free your team up for other essential tasks and strategy formulation. Plus, you’re once again improving the customer experience by mitigating any potential errors that arise from inaccurate data.
Interface and Experience
Finally, it should go without saying that the user interface and, in turn, the user experience of a catalog, even an e-Commerce catalog, leaves a lot to be desired.
Think about it from the perspective of the buyer. They can’t search the catalog to immediately find what they need. They can’t select their product to save it to a cart. They can’t click to learn more. If they are committed to ordering something, they’re likely forced to send an email or pick up the phone.
If they see something they’d like to purchase, it’s far more likely that they’ll just go to different vendors to see if they can get a similar item for a better price or an improved experience.
Even if this functionality does exist in some capacity, it lives in a sort of liminal space between physical catalogs and true e-Commerce marketplaces. There may be some search functionality or the ability to select items, but it will always pale in comparison to a fully searchable online database that can be adjusted by the user depending on their needs.
To solve the user experience problem, you must look for solutions that can enable you to pivot your catalogs to a fully baked online marketplace. Software like Aleran’s B2C e-Commerce and B2B e-Commerce platforms, when combined with Catalog Catalyst, can help you fully transition to the needs of the modern buyer and seller.
When you have a powerful platform that offers all the functionality your users expect from an e-Commerce tool, your ability to gain and retain customers is increased dramatically. And with APIs that seamlessly integrate data between vendors, the experience for your team and your customers will be the best it can possibly be.
To learn more about the solutions discussed here, browse our website or reach out to us for a demo.