Have you ever flipped through printed product catalogs and wanted to see more details about a specific product – maybe some images from different angles or further details about a product’s materials? I know I did and was also kind of disappointed that I couldn’t be easily redirected to a website link and buy a product in just a few seconds.
Don’t get me wrong, printed product catalogs are great. But as e-commerce platforms continuously rise and buying behaviors evolve, digital product catalogs have become valuable marketing assets to even most giants in the retail and wholesale industries.
So, in this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to create a product catalog online that will help you reach a wider audience, give customers a better shopping experience, and, lastly, increase your sales. We’ll also look at how you can save time by automating the whole process of creating product catalogs. All this sounds exciting, right?
Let’s begin from scratch!
What is an e-commerce product catalog?
An e-commerce product catalog is the online representation of a physical product catalog that showcases a company’s products. Usually, these companies activate mostly on the digital platform; that’s why it’s also called an “e-commerce” product catalog.
Decades ago, catalogs were only considered to be delivered as printed PDFs. But today, with the help of online catalog maker, B2B sellers can reach their customers more quickly and cost-effectively.
The entire shopping experience has been dramatically improved since the appearance of digital catalogs. Customers can grab their laptops, check their email inbox, and access the digital catalog in just a few seconds. Moreover, they can even immediately purchase products as digital catalogs can have integrated links, buy buttons, price tags, and so much more. I’ll tell you more about this a bit later.
So your clients are just a few clicks away from purchasing your products, and I think you can realize what this means for your business, right? More sales possibilities! But let me give you some more proof of the great benefits digital catalogs can offer your business.
Advantages of having an online product catalog
Truth be told, there are many advantages of having an online product catalog. One of the most important is the cost-saving one. Especially for small businesses that put a lot of effort into creating the product catalogs in programs like Adobe Indesign, paying for hundreds of printed catalogs copies can be quite expensive. But when you create a product catalog online, the cost is mostly free, they’re cheaper to maintain, and not to mention that you’ll save yourself a great deal of time.
But let me make it easier for you.
Here’s a list with 11 advantages of having an online product catalog:
Clicks are cheaper than paper
You get the same price no matter the catalog’s size
You have no space or page limits
Reach a wider audience through various social channels
Typos and errors can be fixed without compromising an entire batch of catalogs
Great customer service experience to your clients
The distribution process is much easier
Instant updates and faster launch times
Being able to add a digital shopping cart
And these are only a few of the digital catalog advantages. Not to forget about how substantially environmentally friendly digital materials are. More and more brands consider this factor when they need to prepare their marketing materials. Being environmentally conscious is the new must for brands that want to win their customer’s trust.
When you create a product catalog online, you can showcase the entire product library and make it easily accessible to your customers by adding shopping features to it. But I forgot to mention the engagement you get with your customers through the interactive elements you can add to your product catalog.
If you wonder what those interactive elements are, below is a catalog design that you can flip through and see exactly what I’m talking about.
Notice the videos, buy buttons, price tags, and social media buttons? Now that’s an impressive product catalog design that can bring you closer to your audience. And the best part? You can see exactly what your audience is intrigued about by checking the statistics.
Since I hooked you up with all these advantages, let me continue by telling you the key elements to consider when you want to create a product catalog online.
The essential components of a digital product catalog are:
Table of contents
Now let’s take them one by one and talk about further details that you should keep in mind when you want to create a product catalog online right now!
1. Front cover
The front cover of any digital product catalog should have an impressive design. It’s the first thing your customers will see when they receive your email with the digital catalog. And if the front cover doesn’t entice them from the beginning, you risk having clients not even flipping through the other pages.
So make sure you choose the right products to display on the front cover and add headlines and text to make your audience curious into wanting to find out more about what your brand could offer them. Is any promotion going on? Add that right at the beginning, and you’ll see how your sales will be boosting up! Also, assure yourself that you use only professional images because these are what attract the eyes the most. Have them made in daylight to achieve luminous and beautiful product photography.
2. Table of contents
Ok, this one is not mandatory, but it’s good practice that even most big brands still follow, so why shouldn’t you? The table of contents informs the clients what the product catalog contains and allows them to quickly skip to the page of products they’re interested in. See, you can insert a redirect button directly to the page where you showcase those specific products in a digital catalog. Take a look at the example below.
However, several elements contribute to achieving a professionally designed product catalog online, but no worries. In the following paragraphs, we’ll see exactly how to create a product catalog online that entices any audience.
Also, this one is not a must-have, but if you like to offer customers a little information about your business, products, or service, then here’s your chance. The introduction is usually just a page where the brand can share a brief description of the overall product catalog purpose.
For instance, if it’s a fall edition or a promotional one for the upcoming holidays, then in the introduction, you can specify that. And let your customers know that some items might be on sale but just for a limited time only – as long as the promotion will be ongoing.
Remember that you can also add some calls to action and redirect links to the promotion on your website. By doing this, you provide an easy and accessible shopping experience for your customers. By just clicking on the desired product, they are instantly redirected to the product’s website page, and they can immediately buy it.
4. Content pages
The content pages contain product details and descriptions, images, videos, shopping features like price tags and buy buttons. This is the place where you can showcase all your products and where you can play around and experience design elements like colors, fonts, images, videos, and more.
However, one important thing when you make the content pages is to make sure that you stay true to your branding. I’m sure you already have a branding kit that your business uses, like the logo in a certain size or position, the colors that you choose on your website on social media platforms, and so on. But, like in other digital marketing materials that you make, it’s also important to follow the same pattern in your digital catalog.
And keep in mind to add calls to action buttons throughout the entire product catalog. These will influence and determine your customers’ shopping behavior and get you closer to making more sales.
5. Back cover
The back cover usually has the website link and the brand’s social media platforms. Also, contact details like email, address, phone number, state, and so on. Most brands tend to keep this page more minimalist and let the contact details stand out more so that people know how to reach the brand if they need more information or have questions.
Now that we’ve clarified the key components let’s move on to the next step.
How to create a product catalog online?
Catalogs have a long history, and they still hold a valuable place in people’s collective minds. Product catalogs are often your first interaction with your customers. Without knowing, flipping through the pages of a catalog, each customer unconsciously makes a decision. To look further or to abandon any interest. Sounds radical? That’s how impressions work. That’s why it’s vital to create a product catalog to focus on specific features.
What are the first things you think about when asking yourself, “How to create a product catalog”? Surely there are a number of them. We are bombarded with product catalogs day and night. But there might just be one lurking in your closet just now. Let me go first.
Some of the things that cross my mind when thinking of creating a catalog include:
A short story
So far, there is no grand mystery for us to solve. Those elements alone don’t say much, do they? I wanted to point out that most of us already know the elements behind a product catalog. The difficulty lies in how we combine and structure them.
So, what are the steps for creating your product catalog online?
Decide the size and number of the pages for your product catalog
Start the design process with a template
Add professional photos to showcase your products
Make short and concise product descriptions
Stay true to your branding style
Add a shopping list to reduce friction between buyer and seller
Share, download and print your product catalog
1. Decide the size and number of the pages for your product catalog
Most product catalogs’ standard size ranges from 8.5″ x 11″ up to 9″ x 12″. Translated into pixels, 816 x 1056 up to 864 x 1152. As far as pages go, they can vary between 4 and 64 (maybe even more, depending on the case). But, again, those are just some standard numbers. Feel free to juggle with them if you feel it will benefit your product catalog’s design purpose.
Tip: Our product catalog software measures size in pixels. If your predefined measurements are in inches, then know that the value of 1 inch is 96 pixels for conversion. So simply multiply 8.5 by 96, and you’ll have your result in pixels. 8.5 x 96 = 816. Quick maths!
But if you feel that these details kind of freak you out, no worries. In Flipsnack, you can always start the design process of your catalog design by simply uploading a PDF and transforming it into an impressive experience by adding interactive elements. Or you can choose to start the design with a template from our vast collection. And this brings me to my next point.
2. Start the design process with a template
Product catalog templates are great because they help you save a lot of time while also delivering a professional-looking catalog. Templates are the preferred choice nowadays, and it makes sense. Just think about all the WordPress or Wix pages out there. People with no coding experience got the chance to create their websites without turning to a web developer. I call that freedom!
So if you don’t consider yourself quite a skillful designer, templates are your lifesaver! You can finish the design process in just a few minutes and achieve a stunning result. Still, wonder how? Let me explain more.
Flipsnack’s templates are made by professional designers and they make sure that each element follows the best design practices and rules. For instance, having a balance between images and texts, it’s super important. Readers should be easily able to see images with products but as well some information about the materials. If you do too much text on a page, readers might get bored, and you risk not even having your descriptions read.
Another example would be the choice of colors and design elements you combine, or how important it is to have safe margins in your product catalogs – ok, this kind of applies to all the design materials you would create. However, this step is crucial when you want also to print the product catalog and not worry that some images or elements will be cut out.
Now you can notice how much thought is put into creating a template, so when you want to create a product catalog online, you should definitely consider starting with a template. Also, using Flipsnack as a content creation tool means you don’t have to hire a designer to create a product catalog for you.
3. Add professional photos to showcase your products
You wouldn’t believe just how many people take poor pictures of their products. And the thing is, if you would like to sell your villa, you wouldn’t want your photos presenting it as a cottage, right? So the same mindset must be applied here.
Professional photos can set you apart from your competitors and give you that desired edge. Why? Because humans are visual creatures that rely heavily on eyes and impressions. Hiring a professional photographer may just be the right thing to do here. He will know how to emphasize the qualities of your products and what are the best angles to photograph them. Because remember: the best products must also be the best looking ones!
Notice in the image above how the stunning flower watering photograph is put next to more plants examples? By offering your customers photos with the realistic version of how the products will look in their own homes, you get them more closely into buying the product.
Tip: An image with a realistic version of using or having a product will always intrigue your customers more that just a simple image with the product itself.
There’s no surprise brands invest millions of dollars in commercials because they understand this principle: profits require investing. One of the best investments for your product catalog is to equip it with otherworldly product photography.
4. Make short and concise product descriptions
Since you have your professional photos in place, it’s time to take care of your content. Everyone opening a product catalog will like to see relevant information about the products they’ve set their sights on.
Add a description rich enough to entice your customers, but try not to make it too long. After all, you don’t want your text to compete with your pictures. There are several online resources packed with tips for writing copy for your catalog, so learn how to make awesome product descriptions and be sure you give your customers the necessary information.
Lastly, one of the great things about having an online version of your product catalog is boosting your sales by adding a product tag. A product tag allows you to add a description, a price, a discount, and the product’s URL. This ensures you have more space to highlight those fantastic products you just photographed.
5. Stay true to your branding style
As I said earlier, your catalog is an expression of your brand. So when people reach out for a catalog, they must recognize that it’s your brand they’re touching before even having time to think or gather thoughts.
Don’t stop at the logo. Adding brand identity to a catalog means transforming it into a mirror. Custom fonts and colors and fullscreen URLs must be thought of as personal characteristics intended to set you apart. Recognize that IKEA catalogs from a million? Then you know what I mean.
Respect the brand book guidelines you already have established for your business and let your audience recognize your style among your competition easily. Also, make sure you have brand consistency throughout the entire product catalog design.
Tip: Only stick to your representative colors. You don’t want your product catalog’s design to be flooded with some rainbow magic. Pick your brand’s colors, play with their hue and saturation, and blen them into your digital product catalog design.
6. Add a shopping list to reduce friction between buyer and seller
One of the biggest benefits of having an online product catalog is being able to incorporate a shopping list. Having such a feature makes everything easier for both the buyer and seller.
In Flipsnack, you can add a shopping area over the item, or a shopping button that allows clients to click and instantly add the item to their list. Once the shopping spree is over, the client can download the list as a PDF, and send it off to the seller. Now, both the buyer and seller have a digital receipt. No more miscommunication. No more back and forth. No more sending super-long emails filled with lots of product information.
Additionally, using the shopping list feature gives you the opportunity to add extra details to your product in an overlay. This is completely optional, but when the customers click on the item they want more details on, the overlay will pop up. Here, you can add a product description, the price, the currency, and more.
You can add all of this information without having to clog up your product catalog. This is an easy way to keep the design aesthetically pleasing, while also giving the customer everything they need to make a purchasing decision.
Tip: Be as descriptive as possible when using the product overlay. Add a clear title and product ID to the item to keep things nice and organized. This will maximize the catalog’s selling power by arming your customers with all the details they need.
7. Share, download and print your digital product catalog
So far you’ve found out the basics of creating a product catalog; the final step is to make sure as many people as possible get the chance to see it.
You can distribute your catalog in many ways, via direct email, social media, or even embed it on your website. The thing with catalogs is that you want a wide reach. So take advantage of all the different methods available under the marketing sun and reveal your stunning product catalog to everyone.
Product catalogs look excellent standing on a coffee table. This is because so many people browse them when they’re on a break. So make sure you also download and print your product catalogs on high-quality paper.
Tip: You can share a GIF version of your product catalog online. This works great for social media sharing, so make sure to give it a try.
Also, keep in mind that you can generate a QR code for your product catalog and if you print it you can display it in your stores so clients can get easy access to it. Just make sure to place it in a visible area so anyone can scan the QR code with their phone.
Examples of product catalog templates
Since we’ve discussed the theoretical part, so to speak, let’s take a look at some of our product catalog templates and see how the rules mentioned above translate into practice by taking a look at some product catalog template examples.
The simple product catalog template
Don’t mistake simplicity for lack of professionalism. Sometimes a simple design works best, allowing you to pass your message sharply, and fast. Our simple product catalog template is great for getting you started!
As you can see, products take the center of the stage, with accompanying information following them. What is this information?
A minimalistic product catalog design removes all clutter and leaves space for the essentials. And if this is the style you’re going for, then you’ve found the perfect choice for your online product catalog.
Multiple layers dictate precision in design, which, in turn, show your customers your professionalism. It’s worth repeating that a professional design is essential for the success of any product catalog.
As you can see, here we are not merely showing products. Instead, we’re offering a setup.
When creating a product catalog, try to think of ideas you can pass on to your clients. You know your products best, so try to offer them some context. Build your products in a miniature world and let them tell a story.
And speaking of stories…
The last example is an elegant health product catalog template.
Elegant Health Products Catalog Template
The pinnacle of any product catalog design! It’s a shameless exaggeration, of course, but that’s me! I like adjectives, and I believe this elegant health products catalog template is deserving of many.
In our previous example, we ended on a note about creating a product catalog while telling a story. But what does this really mean? Taking a look at the above example, the puzzle starts to solve itself.
A story has a narrative and a central theme, and as you can see in the example above, this catalog tries to convey a message. Products take up a whole page, reinforcing their importance.
Also, the products are in the center of attention, with no other elements distracting our eyes. What’s the meaning of this? That good health is the most critical asset, and as such, it should be a priority for everyone. Have that in mind when creating your product catalog’s design.
Save time by automating the process of creating product catalogs
I mentioned something at the beginning relating to speed, efficiency, and something peculiar called Automation. Time to see what that’s all about.
You saw the above examples, and I won’t lie. Although it’s easy to create stunning catalogs like that, it does take some time. Staying on top of your competition means, in no small part, being amongst the fastest on the market. With Automation, you can achieve that level of speed and effectiveness.
Generally, we speak of Automation in terms of production. And it makes sense, as creating a product catalog means producing something. So automation is using a software to control and monitor the production of a product.
How to use Automation in Flipsnack:
Click the Automation button and import your e-commerce files or CSV files to your workspace.
Structure your product feed. Identify which information from the feed is a product title, price, description, and so on.
Create your product catalog template. This is the one that will further be used as the starting point for all your projects.
Create dynamic fields. This step will ensure that our system knows what info to display in relation to the elements you just added.
Duplicate your elements and pages. If you want your catalog to follow the same design pattern, simply select Duplicate for a smooth look.
Add your products with a Drag & Drop technique. You already imported your files, so simply select them from your Smart Field Groups.
I tried to simplify the info as much as possible, but words tend to overcomplicate things. We have a Youtube video that will walk you through every step above in a more detailed manner. Make sure to check it out!
And I can’t finish until I show you an example of a great automated product template.
Automated Home Decor Catalog Template
This beautiful automated home decor catalog template can help you finish the design process in just a few minutes. The first step you should have in mind when you choose to go for an automated template is to prepare your CSV file with all the products you’re going to add to your product catalog. Make sure to have headers for each product category like product name, color, price.
Once you’ve finished that, upload your CSV document in the automated template. Now you only need to drag and drop your own products in each box. And if you want to add more products, simply duplicate the boxes.
Automation is only one of the benefits of creating a product catalog online. Let’s look at another great feature that can take your digital product catalog to new heights!
Connect your Shopify store into your online catalog
This may come as a surprise, but yes! If you have a Shopify store, you can connect it directly into your online product catalog. In Flipsnack, this whole process is super fast, and your customers will be able to add products to the cart directly from the catalog! Just imagine what a great shopping experience you’ll offer to your customers!
Take a look below to see how your digital product catalog can look if you integrate your Shopify store.
And one last thing that I want to tell you is about the statistics. In Flipsnack, you can see and analyze how your product catalogs perform, and also you can integrate your Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics. So check out insights like views, clicks, impressions, average time spent, and many more.
I think any retailer knows the importance of analyzing the shopping behavior of your customers. To see exactly what they like or don’t can help you to understand their needs better and eventually improve the performance of your product catalogs design. Therefore, making appealing content for your customers is the ultimate goal.
Well, it’s been a wonderful ride! You found out all the details on how to create a product catalog online, which, as you already know, it’s no rocket science. But the benefits of having one are quite a lot, and they can boost your sales game to new heights. So what are you waiting for? Start designing your product catalog and offer your customers an impressive shopping experience they’ll never forget.