Catalogs have been a crucial component for B2B industries for decades.
As a place to display products and services up for sale, however, they're highly dependent on static prices and information as well as a somewhat outdated buying process.
In many traditional industries, printed catalogs played a large part in the process of gathering information before purchase. Accordingly, orders were placed directly through sales representatives or via fax, phone, or email.
The fact is:
Today, 94% of B2B buyers search for information online at some point in the buying process. When it comes to ordering online, in 2014, more than two-thirds (68%) of B2B buyers purchased goods online, and the number is rising.
Now, more and more B2B purchasers expect to be able to order online at any time they like, without any human contact.
RESPONDING TO DEMAND
To keep up with industry changes, more and more B2B companies have met the needs of a more flexible online eCommerce model.
But, how are they doing it?
Firstly, they are moving from print to digital so that they can keep all information easily accessible to exactly where the customers are.
Secondly, some take it a step further and integrate their online catalogs with their eCommerce solution, making a smoother online purchase experience.
B2B catalogs are still the cornerstone of modern B2B sales. And, they even impact the buying behavior of B2B customers and increase sales just in a digital format as interactive e-catalogs.
Want to know the best part?
E-catalog software is now more powerful than ever, and more straightforward than ever to use.
Let's look at some of the benefits:
1. Customers find your products and promotions anywhere
If you're not where your customers are, you are losing out!
With the transformation to digital, people can quickly discover your deals, promotions, products, services, and other relevant information from any location and device. They no longer have to carry several bulky 800-paged printed product catalogs to compare prices.
A B2B eCommerce catalog has a much broader reach than printed catalogs and, thus, opens a world of opportunities for potential new customers to view your presentations.
2. Instant update
As you can instantly update online catalogs with product descriptions, images, and prices, your audience will always see current offerings and information. Displaying your updated product range and deals reduces misinformation and saves time.
The best part?
As a distributor, you no longer have to send out updated price lists and product updates, as your customers and potential clients will always have the updated information at hand. Whenever they watch your publication, they will see the newest version.
3. Extends your reach proportionally
E-catalogs help to increase your B2B sales, as you are no longer limited to distribution via postal services, salespeople, or trade fairs.
With the digitalized versions, you have endless possibilities to reach your target audience. Market your e-catalogs through:
- Email campaigns
- Your website
- Social media
One of the most significant advantages of the digital version is that it can be shared through social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or industrial sites.
As we are bombarded with daily information, the information that we receive must be relevant to our specific needs and wishes. By posting in groups pertinent to your industry or targeting your audience's interest, you have a much broader reach and consistent approach.
When found relevant, we are much more likely to respond and share the content. Having your e-catalog shared by customers or potential customers to peers can increase sales dramatically.
In addition to promoting your e-catalogs for free, you can also invest some money in online advertising to extend the reach even further. Also, here, it's essential to target your ads to get the best conversions.
4. Saves time in order process
With a digital e-commerce catalog, sales can be generated faster on any device; desktop, tablet, or mobile. The increase in speed to market saves time for both purchaser and supplier.
Establishing an efficient sales process includes the right digital channels. Implementing a shop integration with your online catalogs will ease the sales process considerably. This way, customers can order from the flipbooks anytime they like and from any device they want.
This is crazy:
For some companies, this type of integration saves them 50% of the time it takes to process other types of orders.
David Rees, the e-commerce commercial manager at United Drug, states:
We know that iPaper is fully compatible with our future needs in this area. That is great. Now, the shop integration saves us considerable time per order as it's processed twice as fast as a phone order.
Depending on the solution and needs, orders can be placed using an integrated shopping cart directly from the catalog, from the catalog to website or via an email shopping function, where the added items are finally mailed.
Merging your online catalog with your B2B e-commerce web storefront allows customers to seamlessly move from browsing to purchasing goods.
5. Better search
Modern online catalogs come complete with interactive search capabilities. Even though you are stocking thousands of products, certificates, documents, price list, etc., the right information is easy to find within seconds.
Example where search result shows page number instantly
With updated product information right at hand, sales reps can answer or investigate all questions from the customer immediately. They do this in such areas as:
- Suggesting the correct solutions for a particular assignment
- Finding the best price for the task
- Giving valuable information regarding delivery times
Related certifications, product specifications, warranties, price lists, care and assembly instructions, consumer reports, and marketing material, can be found within seconds.
This crucial aspect of providing value to a potential customer, where the consultant is capable of answering questions - even complicated questions - right here and right now, is of great importance to B2B consultants.
The product-heavy B2B company, KJV, uses online catalogs as a sales accelerator due to the search functionality.
6. BETTER OVERVIEW
With the above comes a better overview, which online records can provide.
With an extensive product portfolio, B2B companies often have a large number of catalogs. Keeping information easily accessible can, thus, seem complicated.
Fortunately, like in the offline world, binders come in handy. Digital binders, or so-called e-binders, make searching seamless and much more efficient than in the offline environment.
The different catalogs can be placed in several folders so that they are easy to find from wherever it makes sense.
7. E-catalogs drive traffic to your site
Digital flipbooks, e-catalogs, can be search-engine optimized so that they are easy to find online. This, again, broadens your reach compared to printed material.
By using long-tail keywords and optimizing against that specific phrase, your e-catalogs can help you gain higher SEO rankings.
- Include subject in URL
- Include subject in title tag
- Write introductory text which includes long-tail keyword
Download these and much more SEO tips in this free e-book:
8. Customized experience
With B2B e-catalogs, you have the option of making personalized proposals for your different potential clients.
Instead of a one-size fits all approach, where you send out the same catalog to all prospects, you can target your audience with their language, currencies, logo, brand, pictures, etc.
Customizing the content has proven successful for Decoflame, who uses e-catalogs to create interactive product catalogs to potential new partners.
These customized proposals and brochures are targeted the exact potential partner with their logo, preferences, and price list. As they can make it as personal looking as possible, it helps to catch clients' interest and leads to a dialog and, eventually, a collaboration.
9. Better customer engagement
E-catalogs can increase B2B sales, as well as B2C sales, with better customer engagement leading to sales.
With digital catalogs, you can encourage visitors to take the next step and, eventually, buy from you. Create a memorable and helpful customer experience. This can happen in the form of:
- Order buttons
According to Forbes, video is the new future of media on the web. When we consume video, we’re immersed in an experience. Video, allow us to experience the world (or a fantasy world) as if we were there.
Learning how to deliver video and use it to maximize impact will be the next battleground for attention with marketers and media companies competing on social networks, in mobile apps, and on the traditional web.
Videos can be incorporated in your e-catalogs to showcase your product's features and benefits.You can use a video service such as Wistia. Use it to show the manufacturing of the product, how to use the product, or what other customers are saying about it. Or, use video as a tool for storytelling that connects with your audience.
Animations are engaging elements to keep your audiences' attention and steer them in the right direction. Use animation to encourage people to click on specific sections, links, etc., or to entice them to read more.
With links in your e-catalog, you can ensure that your readers can quickly get from one point to another. Internally link to topics and pages in the digital flipbook or to connect your catalog with your website, if you have additional information there or want to guide them to your webshop.
CTAs (call to actions) are links or buttons which have the sole purpose to get people to click on to the next step.
With actionable CTAs, you can get people to download something, read more, see images or a video, fill out a form or a pop-up, make a call, book a meeting/webinar, or to simply let them order.
Simply to let them order. With order buttons in your B2B e-catalogs, you can smoothen the whole buying process for both you as a supplier and the purchaser at the other end.
With order buttons that are directly integrated with your e-commerce solution, you can let people buy directly from your catalog. The fewer the steps, the higher the conversions. Integrated catalog e-commerce shortens the buying process considerably, saving time at both ends.
10. You can cross-sell WITH A FEW CLICKS
With e-catalogs, you can also increase your B2B sales by cross-selling. Matching or complimentary products are presented in smarter ways than in printed catalogs. For instance, you can include animations or pop-up boxes with matching products to show a coordinated set of products.
If you use a digital binder, you can place products in multiple categories to increase the chance of your potential client finding them.
11. You can track behavior and optimize accordingly
Use tracking, statistics, and heatmap in your e-catalogs to increase your B2B sales.
- Do people click where they're supposed to?
- Or, do they click somewhere where you haven't got any links (images, logo, in the corner, etc.)?
- Are people doing searches that you haven't thought of?
Learn and optimize from catalog to catalog. This way, you can increase your sales.
Related read: Track Click Rate in Your Interactive Online Publications
12. Generate new leads with forms and pop-ups
Online e-catalogs can also boost your B2B sales, as it can work as a useful lead generator.
You have the option of inserting forms and pop-ups to collect valuable information from potential new clients.
Example of a form in iPaper
Use this information to keep communicating with your readers long after they have left your catalog. You could, for instance, send an engaging email series to those who signed up for news from you.
Example of use of a pop-up in iPaper
What have we learned?
Online e-catalogs can increase your B2B sales in multiple ways. By responding to the demand of online buying behavior, you can win the attention of potential clients. By going digital with your B2B catalogs, you succeed in many areas:
- Customers can find your products, services, and promotions anywhere
- Instant updates
- Extends your reach proportionally
- Saves time in the order process
- Better search
- Better overview
- Drives traffic to your site
- Customized experience
- Better customer engagement
- You can cross-sell with a few clicks
- Track behavior and optimize accordingly
- Generate new leads via forms and pop-ups
If you're not already going digital and using the simple elements to catch your reader's attention, you're likely to lose potential customers.