Digital Marketing Blog

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25 Nov 2016

How To Get Started With B2B eCommerce Using Online Product Catalogs

If you work in a small or medium-sized B2B company, you're probably familiar with the challenge of going digital.

You see the demand changing but updating or launching your own eCommerce platform is complex and requires a lot of coordination and resources from the IT department. 

B2B buyers are projected to increasingly make their purchases online. Which means now more than ever there's pressure on manufacturers and distributors to make eCommerce a priority. 


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Still, the fact remains that most B2B businesses haven't gotten quite that far yet. Which is why today we'll taking a deeper look into how B2B eCommerce catalogs can help you on the path to digital.

#1 What Is a B2B eCommerce Catalog?

#2 Why Use B2B eCommerce Product Catalogs To Go Digital?

#3 How to Use eCommerce Product Catalogs To Drive A Modern Marketing Strategy

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#1 What Is a B2B eCommerce Catalog?

Put simply, the term can be understood as a PDF converted into an interactive online product catalog which showcases your products or services and lets customers order or buy directly from the catalog itself. 

Your existing and potential customers can browse the catalog to find out more about your organization and the products you currently offer. 

A lot of customers prefer this because they can do research in their own time and the products are presented in a structured way.

For KJV, a leading Danish distributor of tools, transmissions and products for industrial automationthe ability to provide valuable product information quickly is a major benefit: 

The crucial aspect of providing value to a potential customer is, that the sales consultant in the room with them is capable of answering questions - even complicated questions - right here and right now. iPaper makes this possible for us." - Judith Vestmark Hansen, Marketing Coordinator at KJV.

Read the full use case here.

In addition to that, a B2B eCommerce product catalog can be enriched in several ways, which we will look into in this blog post. 

One of the biggest upgrades is checkout integration, which allows for instant shopping without ever leaving the catalog. 

In the example below, variations in size and color show up when the customer clicks the basket icon. Once the customer's chosen what they want, the order's saved in the shopping basket until checkout.

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 #2 Why Use B2B eCommerce Product Catalogs To Go Digital?

Today’s B2B customers expect a high-quality customer experience across all channels, and you should aim to meet their expectations.

With an eCommerce product catalog, you have the unique opportunity to showcase your products with beautiful images and embed videos to make the experience as interactive as possible to ensure a rich user experience.

Some companies have rethought the entire concept of product catalogs as we knew it with new formats.

Here is an example of Dansk Cater who turned their product catalog into a visual striking content magazine which supports their B2B content marketing in their brand positioning.

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REACH YOUR CUSTOMERS ONLINE

Business buyers are increasingly turning away from traditional print catalogs and moving online. Take the Mueller Company for example, who were able to successfully transition their product catalogs to digital using our platform.

You need to find out where your customers are spending time online and find ways to reach out to them.

This approach will help you attract new buyers, as well as build stronger relationships with your existing business customers.

That could mean reaching out with the catalogs to customers on social media and building email lists that you can use to keep in touch, or creating a strong website experience by hosting your catalogs there.

Why Not Just Use PDF?

You may already be using PDFs to showcase your products to your clients.

So what's the big difference between that and an online product catalog?

Whereas PDFs can fulfill the basic role of a catalog - showcasing products to browsing customers - they don’t have the same range of interactive features that flipbooks can offer.

Although it's possible to embed some of these features into a PDF, this usually makes the file much bigger. Meaning that it takes a long time for customers to download and ultimately just frustrates them.

Furthermore, PDFs can quickly become outdated, meaning you have to manage multiple versions of the same catalog when prices change or new promotions get pushed. 

This is especially troublesome when you have a multitude of catalogs to keep track of. 

Which is why we offer a digital binder. Just like a physical binder it allows you to organize your catalogs. Making sure you have a central overview. Also, it helps customers easily navigate all your materials.

With all your online catalogs organized in one place, you know you always have the updated version on hand, and a place you can easily update when new changes are needed.

Using PDF catalogs is basically a carbon copy of using print catalogs. Which means that while it looks the same, you scroll endlessly and miss out on all the benefits of truly going from print catalogs to online catalogs.

 

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#3 How to Use eCommerce Product Catalogs to Drive a Modern Marketing Strategy

B2B eCommerce product catalogs can play a vital role in setting up a modern digital marketing strategy. As stated before they both enable direct ordering and allow you to reach your target audience online.

However, to truly integrate your catalog into a modern multi-channel marketing strategy you can make use of some of the more advanced features iPaper offers such as pop-ups and analytics. 

Pop-ups

Embedding pop-ups into your eCommerce product catalog is a great way to reach out to customers while they're browsing your product range.

You can create pop-ups that include links to your website where customers can get more information about particular products, check certifications or read whitepapers.

Or create pop-ups that let your customers order flyers or other material from you (Here's an example from a BOSCH supplier in Denmark, where the vendors can instantly order campaign brochures via a pop-up):

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This makes the browsing experience much more enjoyable for the buyer and can lead to them spending more time engaging with your marketing materials as well as driving more traffic to your website.

Pop-ups can also encourage customers to jot down their email address in order to join your mailing list.

This gives you an opportunity to reach out to customers with additional information, discounts, special offers or news about your brand as time goes on. Here's how:

 

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Tracking and Analytics

Gathering data about your customers and the ways in which they interact with your brand can help you build a stronger relationship with your customers. That kind of brand loyalty makes repeat purchases more likely down the road.

When you use online catalogs instead of plain PDFs to display your products, you can track how your users interact with your catalogs.

For example, you can find out where your readers come from in the world, how they found your catalog, and whether they are first-time or returning visitors to your site.

This data can help you better understand the demographics of your customer base and how they interact with your marketing materials.

When you can see which catalogs and which features drive customers to go to your eCommerce store and make a purchase or sign up to your mailing list, you can refine your marketing strategy to improve your overall conversion rate.

 

B2B eCommerce Product Catalog

 

For more information on how to increase sales through online catalogs, develop an inspiring shopping experience and harness your user data, click below to read our downloadable eBook.

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About the author

Ninna Lauridsen

Ninna Lauridsen

Ninna was iPaper's Chief Marketing Officer. She's a creative Content Writer. Word Junkie. Statistics Fanatic. Life Lover. Loud Laughter. One of her favorite quotes is by C.S. Lewis: "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream another dream"

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