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Distribution Software & Catalog Management
Customers who can't find what they're looking for tend to go elsewhere. In the modern age, where everyone is in a hurry, the time frame that customers are willing to allot to looking for an item is even more compressed. Make it easy for customers to find what they're looking for quickly, and they'll buy now and come back again. E-commerce appears to offer a viable alternative--just throw up a website with some pull-down menus and customers will be happy because they can find what they need quickly. However, his isn't always the case. Putting enormous amounts of products on a site with layers of attributes to select can slow even the fastest servers to a crawl. When the web page takes forever to load, customers become impatient and go to another site.

Therefore, catalogue optimization is critical: striking a balance between offering the widest possible array of products and options without draining the lifeblood from the server system. Effective catalogue management software can integrate itself seamlessly into the supply chain distribution system without overloading the servers. "Commerce-ready" online storefronts utilize attribute-based e-catalogues that differentiate a company from all the rest, setting it apart as the 'go-to' place online. This software allows customers to search by manufacturer, description, part number, catalogue number, UPC, product family, dimensions, or commodity code with just a few keystrokes. An easy to use shopping cart will encourage customers to buy and keep them coming back.

The software should have the ability to allow the customer to zoom in on images, offer multiple views, click on hyplinks, and make quick and easy product comparisons. It is also critical to customer satisfaction that the catalogue software be tied into the warehouse database. There's nothing more frustrating to a customer than to place an online order, then hours later receive an e-mail stating that the item order isn't in stock and has been placed on backorder. In terms of cost-effectiveness, the best solution may be product information software that doubles as on online catalogue. Such systems may contain additional data fields for storing multiple product attributes. However, non-stocked items that must be ordered are best stored in a separate database so as to not bog down the system by making it search through hundreds of thousands of products.

To create an effective online catalogue that will generate sales and keep customers coming back, consider selecting a system that allows easy importation and sharing of data with existing warehouse distribution software. For maximum efficiency and speed of use, the catalogue should be part of an integrated supply chain. The online catalogue should also support multiple taxonomies so that customers may search using any criteria that suits them. The catalogue should be capable of maintaining entire vendor catalogues without noticeably slowing the computer system's performance. It should also automatically update inventory and product files and pricing matrices as well as maintain up-to-date product attributes for every product the company sells or hopes to sell at a later date. Additionally, the catalogue software should have features that make it easy to update, replace, and add products so that a company can grow.

In addition, the catalogue needs to connect the back end systems. In particular, the catalogue needs to work with the companys distribution software and should be able to give customers an idea of where their order is at any given time.

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