Four Practical Aspects of a Successful Online Store Catalog [Worksheet Included]

Four Practical Aspects of a Successful Online Store Catalog [Worksheet Included]

Four Practical Aspects of a Successful Online Store Catalog [Worksheet Included]

One of my main goals as a web developer is to help customers and organizations reach their goals using the most efficient methods available. As a customer-oriented business, there is no higher achievement for us than providing you with a way to sell your products and services 24 hours a day, every single day. An online store with an up-to-date catalog provides these services to your customers day and night by acting as a personal concierge that never sleeps.

The first step of creating a successful online store is to design and import your current inventory into a system. In this blog post, I will share practical tips and specific steps that will simplify the process of creating a functional, compatible, and easy-to-operate catalog.

Many businesses have been successful in their market for years before they started selling online. Business owners that manage shops and maintain stock are already aware that their inventory lists change on a regular basis as the market value of their goods is influenced by dynamic factors. Moreover, the physical attributes of products, such as size, weight, or packaging, can change over time. It is very important to maintain an up-to-date catalog of the products you offer at all times.

Attractive images for ecommerce

Providing an attractive image of your product is the fastest way for your customer to build a first impression. Therefore, cloudy, unattractive, and low-resolution images are not going to promote your reputation or lead to an increase in sales. Imagine an online clothing store with low-quality images. In the worst case scenario, a single bad image can cause a potential customer to simply close your product page. As a result, the site has not only failed to establish a relationship with a customer, this browsing behavior typically results in a bounce rate increase; resulting in an unfavorable rating by SEO measuring standards. The higher the bounce rate, the less likely your site will be shown in Google search results. A reoccurring cycle of similar events has strong potential to harm your brand both in the short and long term. Tracking these statistics is especially critical in business-to-consumer (B2C) sales where the audience usually expects and demands the best quality from the onset.

We recommend two solutions in order to prepare the best images for your inventory:

  • Hire a professional photographer-editor
  • Take photos of your products yourself and hire a professional designer to edit and polish your images

In the first scenario, you will get high-quality images at a hefty price; which will rise in correlation to the number of items in your inventory. Alternatively, if you are confident in your ability to capture decent photos on your own, you can email them to a digital editor like a Photoshop specialist. The second scenario is a more flexible, and generally more affordable, solution to achieve web-publishable results. Overall, your final results should be high-resolution images with descriptive names.

Original image

Banana flavored popcorn. Property of B&G Popcorn, Inc

Edited image

Banana flavored popcorn. Property of B&G Popcorn, Inc

Pro-tip: Prepare 3 images for each product that will showcase the product from different angles.

Easy and functional structure

A functional and easy-to-use catalog is a well-structured catalog. We have prepared a few tips for organizing your current list of products by dividing them into categories with prices and taxes. Since there is a point in the developmental process where a business administrator needs to deliver a current catalog to web developers, it is especially critical for ecommerce websites. Arriving to this stage underprepared will result in unnecessary delays in website set up. It may even lead to additional costs if the developers need to do it for you. In general, a business owner would benefit from designing their own catalog based on previous sales experiences and a structural understanding of their current and future stock.

One of the simpler ways to start developing your catalog is to create a preliminary list of your available products. Then group the items into logical categories. Research the industry standard and have customer in mind. Afterwards, save this list with categories as an Excel file under a discoverable path like: catalog_MMDDYYYY.xls(x) Make it a habit to update this file when you change any of the following: product title, category, price, weight, and/or tax. Using the template that we provide you can start working on your catalog right away!

Pro-tip 1: If your product has options (for example: size or color) try to create a parent-child relationship between the two entries in your list. For example, consider creating a unique identifier column such as “sku”.  Each identifier is a child, and should have its own row in the table because it might have different weights, skus, images, and other properties. In this way, you can structure the items in your catalog by referring to the “parent sku” of each item.

Poorly structured products result in confused customers.

Well arranged categories and similar items will create a convenient experience for clients.

Pro-tip 2: Think about a preferred display order for items. Which items would you like your customer to see first? What categories would you like to prioritize in your online sales?

Cross-selling setting create custom experience

Customers prefer options and enjoy the ability to browse similar products in terms of category and sometimes price range. An intuitive combination of three “like” items per product gives online visitors a tailored browsing experience. Your walk-in store often benefits from their experience as well. Recall the best ecommerce sites that you regularly visit. All of them invest time in developing custom recommendations. Additionally, a website catalog can complement your visitors’ shopping trends by providing them with suggestions for three corresponding items that are frequently bought together. Overall, these two exercises – selecting three similar items and three complementary items – will create a personalized experience and add value to your online catalog.

Content builds trust

A catalog with comprehensive item description cultivates realistic consumer expectations and trust. If you recalled any popular online store, like Amazon, every product there has a description. For your store to be found by search engines, you need to provide descriptions, too. In search engines, people are looking for specific content, keywords, or anchors available on your website. Therefore, just listing the titles or names of your products is not enough; unless you are already the number one selling brand in the nation.

A web store without any content will be uninteresting to both potential customers and the search engine indexing it. Search engine algorithms act in the place of human visitors that are trying to build a relationship with your website. Just like in real life, it is impossible to build a relationship without providing some information in return. Moreover, the content you provide should be unique and, preferably, specific to you. Consider creating short descriptions for your products as well as longer descriptions (about 300 words) that people will find useful.

Pro-tip: Consider researching keywords to include in your content to optimize its effects. 

Download an Excel catalog template now!

e-commerce screen

I really hope you found this information helpful! Whether your online shopping is based on Shopify, Amazon, WooCommerce or Magento, please consider setting aside time in your busy schedule to organize all of your wonderful items into one amazing catalog by following the steps outlined above.

Let me know how it goes!

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About the Author

I am Texites CEO and Founder. Being a teacher, business owner and a web developer I am able to express my love towards both of my favorite worlds, teaching and technology.

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5 Comments on "Four Practical Aspects of a Successful Online Store Catalog [Worksheet Included]"

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Awesome post!

Tanya Ince

Thanks, Anastasia! Your detailed guidelines on how to structure a catalog will be very helpful as I create my aromatherapy product line.


Great post, really useful stuff! Thanks for sharing your tips with us 🙂