6 Ways to Improve Your Product Catalog for Marketplace Success

If you are reading this, you probably work in, or closely with, e-commerce. Often being inside the industry makes it difficult for us to view our work with the detachment of an outsider. However, when you consider what makes a quality catalog, you have to think like someone who doesn’t search for products by UPC, ASIN, SKU, ISBN, MPN, or ISJKNC (don’t worry, you shouldn’t know what that last acronym means because I made it up 🙂 ). In other words, you need to set your insider hat aside and think like the average online shopper to truly improve your product catalog.

How Shoppers Discover Products Online

Finding the right products online typically takes one or more of these four paths. The shopper goes to a search engine like Google or Bing and finds the items they seek. They go directly to merchant websites, marketplaces like eBay or Amazon or stumble upon interesting products on social media platforms like Pinterest and Facebook.




Whatever their first stop may be, you want to make sure that the process of product discovery is as frictionless as possible, offering shoppers options to quickly find, view, compare and decide on their final choice with as little back and forth as possible. Here are some ideas on how to ease the process of product discovery:

  • Polish your search capabilities to offer the right product to the right customer.
  • Create logical product categories and navigational hierarchies on your own website. For marketplaces and product advertising channels, you can utilize DemandStream’s Category Mapping Tool and Category Classification tools to enhance your product categories.
  • Offer as much product information as possible ‘pre-click’, i.e. right on the search results page, without having to open the product detail page
  • Build data-rich product pages – this means the shopper doesn’t need to go anywhere else (e.g. the manufacturer’s site) to learn more about the product
  • Avoid ‘post-click’ searching and scrolling, i.e. don’t make the shopper hunt all over the product detail page for key information. Present it upfront to minimize the effort on their end
  • Create logical product categories and navigational hierarchies on your own website. For marketplaces and product advertising channels, you can utilize DemandStream’s Category Mapping Tool and Category Classification tools to enhance your product categories.


Improve Your Product Catalog

However, all of these steps are secondary.

The first step towards greater product discovery (and eventually, better conversions!) is providing shoppers with clean, complete and consistent product data.

While there are numerous ways to optimize product data for e-commerce, you need to get these six basics right before you start seeing the dollars rolling in. So, here goes.

  1. Product Titles

Titles are what tell the customer, “This is the product you want.” Nobody is going to click on a link to a product unless they know exactly what it is. Take sweatpants as an example. Say Jimmy likes to shop for his Adidas three-quarter length sweats online. You are Soccer Emporium LLC, and you sell exactly what Jimmy is looking for! Hooray! Transaction done, right? Well, the title of your three-quarter length Adidas sweat pants comes up as “¾ Length Sweat Pants” on the search page. That is just not good enough for Jimmy. When he looks for his sweats he wants to know:

  • the size
  • the color
  • the brand
  • the name of the product
  • the style
  • the quantity

Jimmy doesn’t want to have to click into the product detail page to get this information. Online shoppers are fickle; you need to make a good first impression. Here’s what you need to know:

Better click-through rates (CTRs) with ‘browse’ sessions: A clear and complete product title improves click-through rates on your listing even if a shopper is merely browsing through a product category using the website’s original navigational hierarchy.

Better rankings on ‘search’ sessions: Having this information in the title also helps your products rank better on marketplaces. Information in your product title gets picked up by marketplace algorithms when they decide which products to surface in a search and in what order. Thus, having search relevant information in your title is an easy way to boost your search rankings.

Let’s take this title for example:

Original Product Title: American Tourister Brookfield 3 PC Set

If you notice, while this title references the brand name, it does not reference the category name – potentially, an extremely costly omission. It also abbreviates important keywords, making it harder for algorithms and shoppers to spot the item. For your product to be picked up and listed in a search, this is potentially the type of title you’d be shooting for:

Revised Product Title: American Tourister Brookfield 3 Piece Luggage Set


  1. Product Images

Your main image is the customer’s first taste of the product. Make sure that it is a high resolution picture of the product. A nice image brings legitimacy to you as a seller. Images are also important post-click as you can show your product in use, or from several angles. The more images the better. This is especially true on higher ticket items. If the customer is going to shell out big money, they want to be certain they’re getting exactly what they want.

Recommended Image Formats

You may use TIFF (.tif/.tiff), JPEG (.jpeg/.jpg), GIF (.gif) or PNG (.png) formats for your images. As mentioned earlier, the better the image resolution, the happier your customers will be. Having the ability to zoom deeply into a product image replaces the touch and feel aspect of shopping that e-commerce typically lacks.

Image Background

A white background works for most sites (it’s a pre-requisite on Amazon). If you have images of your product in use or a video that demonstrates the product, make sure you include them in your listing.

Image Dimensions

Obviously the bigger the better. However, aim for at least 1,000-pixel length or width for images.

Lead Product Image

Make sure you play it safe with your lead image. Go with just the product against a white background to get the most bang for your buck on marketplaces.  Save your “lifestyle” and “use” pictures for the secondary images.


  1. Pricing

Your product price plays a huge role in how much action your listing gets. In a marketplace environment, you’re competing with potentially hundreds of sellers offering exactly the same item as you. Price becomes an important differentiator in such a scenario. If you offer the lowest price for a particular SKU, there’s a good chance that your listing will see increased traffic, better conversions and ultimately more sales. One caveat, though. Never lose sight of product margins in your hurry to offer low prices and win a sale.

Whether you sell on your own website or syndicate your catalog to marketplaces, dynamic pricing is an important pricing consideration that can make your offerings more competitive. Dynamic pricing refers to the ability to modify the price of your product in real-time (or near real time). If you are a DemandStream user, you can leverage our Amazon Repricing tool to win the ‘buy box’ and the sale more often. With it you can set pricing floors, beat your competitors’ prices based on percentage or dollar amounts, only offer free shipping when the competition is doing so, and so much more. This topic warrants a blog post in and of itself.

Another aspect to consider when deciding product prices, is when to offer free shipping. There’s reams of research to support the fact that most of us already implicitly know – online shoppers want free shipping. Seriously, give it to them. Use the ideas listed here to reduce how much you pay for shipping, thus enabling you to offer your customers free or at the very least, low cost shipping.


  1. Keywords

Having relevant keywords makes the product searchable. This should not be a stagnant value. Play with the keyword values and test which ones are driving the most search traffic to your products.

If you’re a DemandStream user, you can utilize content rules to dynamically generate keywords based on other product data in your catalog.

Keywords need to stay under a 50-character limit. On Amazon, the number of keywords you can submit per product is dependent on category. So, certain categories allow for more keywords than others. Remember to check the upper limit for your specific product categories so you don’t under-utilize this resource.

Don’t use brand or title information as keywords, as this will already be picked up by the marketplace’s search algorithms. Since, most marketplaces limit the number of keywords you can include, be extremely prudent about which words to use as keywords in your listing and avoid duplicates.

Another important, but oft-overlooked factor, is to steer clear of any punctuation inside the keyword fields. All those commas and semi colons separating your keywords? Yeah, get rid of them to avoid confusing the search app. A good old space between your keywords does just fine.


  1. Product Descriptions (Bite the Bullet-points!)

A clear, yet engaging product description helps shoppers decide on whether to hit ‘Buy’ or not. A good way to highlight the unique selling propositions (USP) of your products would be to put the most important features about the product in bullet points. They show just to the right or below the product image on most sites so there is no scrolling required. Don’t make the customer work to find this information.


  1. Accurate, Logical Category Mapping

Depending on the types of products that you sell, your product categorization could make or break your online presence. Like any retail store—electronic or not—there are often two types of shoppers. There are those who know what they want when they walk through the virtual door and then there are those who have no idea at all. If you are an apparel retailer, for example, you will have a lot of shoppers who are truly browsing. Having accurate, high-quality categories on your website and on marketplaces helps customers compare apples to apples (or dresses to dresses). Product filters allow customers to narrow down their options and these are informed by what category is mapped for each individual product.

One way to guarantee your apples are going in the right baskets when selling online is to utilize DemandStream’s Category Classification and Category Mapping tools. These tools help you map your products to the correct categories across all of the channels that DemandStream supports (which is quite a laundry list). The best part is, once you have mapped your categories to the DemandStream taxonomy, you won’t have to worry about doing it ever again. It is very much a one and done scenario. That is, of course, unless you change your category structure


Wrapping Up

A clean, consistent and commerce-ready product catalog is your most important tool to win more customers and grow revenues consistently. From syndicating your products on marketplaces to listing them on online product advertising channels like Google Shopping, to surfacing your products on organic searches on search engines, it all begins with high quality product data. Need help crafting better product content? Contact us and let us show you how we can work our magic on your product data.