10 tips and tricks on creating good product catalogs and price lists

How do catalogues and price lists become a tool that your customers and potential customers like to use again and again to search for products and order them from you? And how can you create catalogs / price lists much easier and even implement the trend of excerpt catalogs for different customer groups with little additional effort? Based on the many catalog projects we have carried out, we would like to offer you a few tips:

1. Provide clear content structure for a better overview

Good tables of contents as an overview and per chapter make it easier for users to find the information they are looking for

The more products you have, the more important it is to have a clear content structure in chapters and subchapters. The structure should be tailored to your customers so that they can find products in the document as quickly as possible. The structure can be divided into product groups (e.g. in the fittings catalogs in chapters such as shut-off fittings and globe ball valves) or by application areas (e.g. fittings for waste water and fittings for seawater).
This structure is often different to the merchandise categories in merchandise management - often more deeply structured and aligned to the customer's view. However, it can have advantages to apply the same structure to the catalog, price list and web shop or product tree within the web pages, since many customers now switch between media, e.g. searching for a product in the catalog first and then ordering it from the web shop. When the structure in printed media and online is the same, the customer can quickly find their way around. This shows great usability and can help you gain positive results with your customers.
To make the structure in the catalog and price list easy to understand, a table of contents should be prominently positioned at the beginning and a chapter subdirectory is recommended for more elaborate documents. In addition, registers on the outer edge of the pages make it easier to find chapters quickly from the outside. In the case of multi-colored documents, it can be helpful to select a different color for each chapter in order to make the chapter readily accessible from the outside through position and color. You can see the structure even better if you have the registers punched out as a grip bar - but this can be costly.

2. An index makes it easier to find new products

Finding products quickly in technical catalogs and price lists is absolutely essential, so you should include an index as well as a table of contents. This should not only contain all product names, but also synonyms common used by customers. For example, a "hex key" can be referred to by many other names, such as an "allen wrench", or "allen key", meaning that if you only reference one of these names those who refer to the same tool by one of its other names will not be able to find and purchase hat they are looking for. Of course, the page number must be given for each term in the index. Due to this being rather tedious when manually creating catalogs and price lists via InDesign, many choose to not offer a directory, thereby forfeiting a search element used by many customers. To avoid the hassle of manually inputting each page, catalog software such as ANTEROS can be used (see 9. and 10.).

3. An index for article numbers makes it easier to find familiar products

An article index/ directory can be used to ensure that your customers can quickly find replacements for parts that are defective or just need to be exchanged. Here, a customer can just look up the article number of a product that they already know and find the corresponding page number of the exact part they are looking for. These article directories can be difficult to keep up to date when catalogs and price lists are made manually, leading to many updates towards the end of the correction phase. As a result, many decide to forgo the directory, making it more difficult for existing customers to find and reorder products. Catalog software such as ANTEROS can be utilized to implement fully automated directories (more on that in point 9 and 10).

 

 

4. Provide detailed product information

When it comes to technical products in particular, a number of technical criteria often have to be fulfilled before a purchase can be made, e.g. that the dimensions fit exactly, that the temperature range is suitable for the application, etc.  Therefore, provide your customers with sufficient information about your products, such as sizes, materials, dimensions, standards, etc.

 

 

5. Pay attention to product pictures: in addition to photos, illustrations are often helpful

Sufficient product information and images are important in technical industries

Since you can't physically pick up and look at a product in a catalog or price list - unlike in a store - good pictures are particularly valuable. If the product images are also displayed on the web pages or in the web shop, then you should make sure that the images for both the website and printed media are always up to date and that new product images are not used, for example, in a new edition of the catalogue, while the old images are still appearing online. Image or media databases, such as ANTEROS.mam, only require images to be uploaded in good quality once, and images in other formats are automatically generated, e.g. guaranteed in print quality with CMYK color space and web large, medium and small.

6. Boost sales with cross-selling

In the specialized trade business, products are grouped in the same way as they will later be used in practice. Thus the customer finds suitable additional products or supplements without having to wander through the entire shop, and even accesses additional products that he did not initially plan to purchase when entering the shop. This so-called cross-selling should also be used for the catalogs and price lists. For example, you can specify suitable standard or special accessories or expendable items. In some cases, your existing customers, who rarely place orders, are not even aware of your complete assortment. This can be done in a space-saving way, so that the printing costs either do not increase at all or only insignificantly, e.g. by adding a column for accessories - possibly with a reference to the relevant product page.

7. Easily comprehensible article numbers for straightforward orders

Once customers have found a product they want to order within the product catalog it would be easiest for them to input the corresponding article number in the search bar within your webshop. For this to be done easily it is means that the article numbers printed in your catalogs and price lists be comprehensible, clear and distinct.

8. Save printing costs on many product variants thanks to cross tables or data compression

Space and thus printing costs can be achieved and saved with cross-tables or data-vedication.

Printing your catalogs and pricelists can have more data mean higher printing costs. For this reason, you should carefully consider how to place all the information important to your customers in such a way that it remains concise and clear while taking up little space. For example, it can make sense to display the data in a compact cross table if you have many product variants and few parameters. The values of a parameter are placed at the top, e.g. in the example on the right the different widths of the panels and in one line products of different widths but the same thickness are displayed. In the automotive industry, data compression of TecDoc data in print is necessary, for example to display products for several vehicles or models only once, even though they are contained in the data several times. These ways of reducing printing costs can even be implemented in 100% automated catalog production with ANTEROS.print.

9. Efficiently maintain product data and automatically generate printouts with catalog software / PIM

If you don't just have a small catalog with few pages, but rather one or multiple catalogs with many pages, possibly in multiple languages, catalog software can help reduce the effort of creating and maintaining data while increasing data quality at te same time. Technologically advanced software such as ANTEROS can generate complex technical catalogs including tables of contents, article and keyword directories, as well as product tables and cross tables 100% automatically at the push of a button. Additionally, this catalog software can be linked with a PIM system in which product data needed for print and online exports, translations etc. can be maintained centrally. Combining these to systems (catalog and PIM software) can save you both time and effort.

10. Excerpt catalogues for individualised customer approaches in sales and marketing

Companies that can automatically generate catalogs have recently started a new trend of generating excerpt catalogs for specific target audiences.

A business e.g.. Schaeffler can use ANTEROS.print to generate a catalog for exclusively new products in a pleasant catalog layout each month with a simple click of a button and distribute it via email. While TMD Friction can easily generate a catalog for each of their target groups. Many companies such as Simona, Tietjen and VAG  have integrated this function in their webppage and offer website visitors the ability to generate their own excerpt catalog with the exact information they want fully up to date.