AI in Retail

Top 4 Catalog Management Challenges Faced By 80% SMB Fashion Retailers6 min read

September 17, 2018   |   4 min read

Top 4 Catalog Management Challenges Faced By 80% SMB Fashion Retailers6 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Small and Medium Businesses or Enterprises (SMBs or SMEs) are mid-sized businesses that generally employ 100 or fewer employees (the number of employees may vary globally). According to the US Small Business Administration, there are nearly 30 million small and medium businesses in the United States alone, providing employment to over 47.8% of the total workforce. Europe’s small and medium business market stands at a whopping £60 million. And catalog management stands out as one of the prominent challenges faces by small and medium businesses.

Globally, small and medium businesses are an extremely competitive segment with a staggering $1 billion market opportunity. With a size like that, these microbusinesses are increasingly shifting their focus to online selling for reaping multichannel benefits. In this retail jungle, if you do not have a competitive advantage, chances are that your competition will, and have a first-mover advantage over your business. To nail the retail formula is to understand what your shoppers want. Improving user experience is the only way to stand out. Today’s millennial shopper needs an efficient, intelligent and automated user experience – they want it all in a quick click. According to a study by Digital Trends, 73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that personalize shopping experiences.

The Current State Of Catalog Management For Mid-Sized Enterprises

Unlike large brands, most mid-sized businesses work with smaller teams or a handful of people juggling multiple roles in a day – that of a Social Media Manager, Business Development, Product Manager, Merchandiser or even a Retail Buyer. Fashion retailers are pressed for time, resources and unavailability of a single source of truth for their overall product management. In the process, they end up spending a lot of money on manpower to manage their business. For them, even today, catalog management remains a manual process with little or no help from the good old excel sheets, or even traditional pen-to-paper method – resulting in a ‘copy-paste’ approach that leads to inconsistent data quality across selling platforms. Manual product labeling is time-consuming, error-prone and expensive. Depending on the number of products in any catalog, a typical manual tagging process can range anywhere between 30-40 hours a week, tagging just 200-300 products a day. Issues like bad quality catalog images, incorrect, missing or misspelled product description, are common concerns for the business. Poor quality data and lack of catalog management are costing businesses millions of dollars every year.

Here Are The Top Four Challenges Retailers Commonly Face While Managing Their Product Catalogs

1. Inconsistent Product Information

The fatigue of manually tagging each product can lead to poorly labeled products with incorrect, irrelevant, or even missing information. What one understands as ‘Orange’ color may be perceived as “Tangerine” by the other. Similarly, a person may label a pink floral A-line maxi dress as a “pink dress”. Perception (or absence of knowledge) of the same product can be subjective between two people. This ambiguity often leads to miscategorized products in catalogs. And this misclassification of product information gets easily replicated across selling platforms with the ‘wash-rinse-repeat’ tendency of any manual process. As a result, shoppers may find it difficult to find what they are looking for because the products are described differently on your website vis-a-vis other platforms. Moreover, inconsistent data hampers shoppers’ search results leading to an unpleasant shopping experience for the customer.

2. Inaccurate Catalog Listing

Alex is preparing for his interview next week and is looking for a collared, long-sleeved solid blue shirt. He lands on your website and starts looking around. Consistently, the search results show up half-sleeved shirts, brown flower-patterned Bahamas shirt, and even a pair of shorts! Alex gets frustrated, discards your website and moves on to another fashion retailer. A half-sleeved shirt in the ‘formal shirts’ search result is a misclassified category and so is the ‘shorts’ showing up in the ‘formal shirt’ category. Similarly, a brown flower-patterned Bahamas shirt titled as ‘blue’ shirt is a ‘title’ inaccuracy. Product indexing or arranging products using correct labeling to help customers navigate through the products smoothly is most often an overlooked process. Haphazardly listed products under irrelevant categories can confuse customers and leave them frustrated, and make them possibly drop the purchase. Not making product readily available to the customer is a lost sales opportunity for the business.

3. Poor Product Discovery

The more organized a catalog’s data is, the more it helps businesses in marketing their products across platforms and expands product discovery, which is an avenue for sales conversion. Poor quality data is the reason for lack of product discovery because it impacts category and product listing, at every stage. It also leads to poor search results. For instance, if a shopper searches for a red polka dot skirt on your website, and your search shows a random white frill frock, or jeans, in a worst-case scenario, the chances of your shopper returning to your website are low. Whereas, if your site personalized search is empowered to show the exact match as well as similar results, the possibility of this search converting to purchase is much higher, leading to better brand recall.

4. Insufficient Inventory Insights

One of the biggest challenges for businesses is planning and managing their inventory. The basic principle of inventory management works on demand and supply. And lack of insight on shoppers’ buying behaviour and on “what’s trending” may impact your decision to stock trending items or get rid of excess inventory. Inaccurately labelled items limit your view to assortment planning and subsequent retailing decisions and marketing strategies.

Automated Fashion Tagging Is The Answer For All Your Catalog Management Challenges

Businesses are now leaning towards an automated approach to managing their product catalogs for customer-friendly user experience.  

Catalog management is a dynamic process of organizing products in a structured way to ensure consistent and quality data across multiple channels. An e-catalog provides information about product name, description, hierarchy, price, supplier and other related details. The more organized the data and synchronized inventory, the better it helps the businesses to market their products faster across platforms. Faster go-to-market with optimized product description means increased product discovery experience which in turn leads to more sales opportunities.

Introducing VueTag

As a small-medium business owner, we understand you juggle many different things during the day. VueTag is here to make your life easy. VueTag’s image recognition technology helps you generate product tags in a fraction of time, allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your business. With rich, consistent, accurate product data, you increase the likelihood of your products and your brand being discovered by shoppers across the globe. Faster Tagging. Cleaner Catalogs.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR engineers bespoke AI transformation roadmaps for enterprises across industries. Retailers to resellers, auto-extracting data from files to extrapolating fashion styles, 150+ conglomerates in five continents recruit How can we help yours?