This is Part 4 in our series of Daily Golden Nuggets explaining the different types of online product catalogs that retail jewelers could have.
In the previous three Nuggets, we've covered three basic online product catalog concepts. We know that you are extremely busy running your jewelry store and setup of those previous three types could potentially fit into your schedule.
On the other hand, the Nugget today and tomorrow are great ideas, but they do require a commitment of time, or an employee.
In case you've joined us in the middle of our conversation we are reviewing the TYPE 4 CATALOG today. Here're the types of catalogs we've identified:
Type 1: Vendor Controlled Websites and Catalogs ( http://bit.ly/rhnsa3 )
Type 2: POS Uploaded Catalogs ( http://bit.ly/oILWca )
Type 3: Simple Manual Product Showcases ( http://bit.ly/q4MJwW )
Type 4: Manual Uploaded Catalogs ( http://bit.ly/n25HPS )
Type 5: Full Manual Catalogs
Note: This is a review of the "product catalog" area of a website only, not a review of all the possible website features.
TYPE 4: MANUAL UPLOADED CATALOG
Setup Difficulty: Moderate - Hard
Customer's Perception: Large selection of real inventory to buy online or in-store
Customer Realization: Satisfied by jewelry selection immediate availability.
Internet Reach: Local with nationwide potential
SEO Value: Medium - High
There are a few good reasons to maintain a large inventory list online, including mobile product catalogs, long term customer acquisition, and direct competition with local and national level e-commerce websites. You don't always have to sell online, especially if your goal is long term customer acquisition and competing with other local jewelers.
We explained the Type 2 POS inventory upload catalog in a previous Nugget, but if this method is unavailable to you, or if you are interested in more SEO control then you could use the TYPE 4 catalog concept.
If you ask for it, many of your jewelry vendors will give you photos and Excel spread sheets of the items you stock in your store. You have to ask them to provide style numbers and details of the jewelry on the spread sheet. Many times this is just an itemized list that has the style number, a brief description and metal type. Sometimes they will also include the matching image name on the sheet.
Initially, the setup of this catalog will be difficult. We don't want to get into the programming aspects behind TYPE 4 catalog because each of you will have different needs. You need to plan the layout and work with your web programmer to create an upload routine that works for you.
Once setup, you will freely be able to upload inventory lists to your website. The process should work similarly to the POS upload routine explained in Type 2 catalogs. The difference is that you will have more control of the number of photos uploaded, you can write longer descriptions, and you an upload as many different details as you'd like instead of being limited to the features of the POS software.
This catalog will also require more hands-on work directly in your website. Your programmer will have to give you an easy-to-use content management system (CMS). You don't want to attempt this catalog with a clunky or non-intuitive CMS. Here's a hint about your CMS choice: it's not a good CMS if you find yourself getting lost a lot or forgetting where to find features. Many CMS's try to be everything for everyone and become way too complicated for backend management. Since you are manually uploading the items, you would have to manually delete anything you sell, or at least mark it as not in stock. If the process if difficult, you will hate the task. That hate will eventually translate into an out-of-date website.
Assuming you have a great CMS and your web programmer worked their magic, you will find yourself with the same ability as the Type 3 catalog. This means you should embellish all your product descriptions as much as possible. As we've said previously, the descriptions need to have both romantic descriptions and technical details about the jewelry. The romance creates desire and the typical technical specs appeal to people who find beauty in what can be measured.
The SEO value of your long descriptions will help rank your website as a local reputable jewelry store. If you have a very competitive local market this TYPE 4 might be one of your better options. Your individual products might not rank well unless they are well known designer styles, but the size of your website with those longer descriptions will provide a better chance at SERP ranking against your competitors.
Keeping the inventory up-to-date will be a little challenging because you will need to maintain your spreadsheet upload file. The other possibility is that you only upload the large spreadsheet a few times a year and manually maintain it in between each upload.
Your customers will appreciate the larger online inventory and it will help them during the pre-purchase research phase of the buying cycle, as well as aiding their competitive shopping when in another store.
The bottom line of a TYPE 4 catalog is that they involve a moderately difficult level of setup, and you need to work closely with your web programmer to get it working in the beginning. There is both high SEO potential and customer satisfaction with this method, but there's also a level of maintenance that may require a very tech savvy part- to full-time employee.