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An Online Product Catalog is Key

An online product catalog is essential because consumers use the Internet to shop, even if they don't use it to buy. A survey conducted by The NPT Group, Inc. in July 2001 found that 92% of consumers shop online prior to making their purchase.

A Product Catalog is Critical
An online product catalog is essential so that consumers can get information about your products, including prices and specifications. If you sell products but don't have an online product catalog you are losing sales. Smart consumers are using the Internet to compare products and prices. If they don't find your products online, chances are you won't be considered when the purchase is made.

You need a product catalog so that consumers can get product information. Starting with a product catalog is critical. 51% of consumers shop online and purchase offline.

Start Small. Think Big.
Once you have a product catalog in-place you have the basic infrastructure required for an online store. As the online demand for your product increases you can add other features like a request for quote (RFQ) module, shopping cart, or e-commerce.

E-commerce
40% of consumers shop online and purchase online. However, not all products are suited to e-commerce. However, commodity items and replacement parts are great products to sell online. Many clients that sell service-related items or items that require customization find that a request for quote (RFQ) module added to their product catalog is all they need.

If you have an existing sales staff that currently takes orders you may want to consider non real-time e-commerce. Non real-time e-commerce will cost you less money to install and less money for every transaction processed. Real-time e-commerce is the solution if you have a high volume of transactions or want a fully automated system. You will be able to approve or decline credit card transactions in real-time and can also accept payments from checking accounts.

The Bottom Line
An online product catalog is essential. If consumers can't purchase your products online they will use it to get information that will influence their buying decisions. If consumers can't get the information they need about your products online, you will lose their business.

Date: 03.01.2002

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