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Virtual Product Catalog vs. Catalogs with In-Store Inventory

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Virtual Product Catalog vs. Catalogs with In-Store Inventory imageIt's getting down to the wire. There's very little time left to get your website launched or products uploaded before the holiday season rolls around.

Every year--for the past five years--the consumer shopping pre-planning trends have grown. People aren't waiting for the Sunday newspaper circulars any more; they are going online.

More and more people are browsing products online, and decide then which stores to visit. Computers are faster, smartphones are faster, and consumers are demanding that they see online product catalogs.

As a jewelry store, you need to show products on your website. Loading your website with products takes a lot of time. The manual labor is comparable to the time it took to enter your products into your inventory management program. There's a huge time saver if you can upload your products from the inventory program, but that requires that your website programmer and your software company work together.

There are several jewelry vendors that will sell you template websites that are pre-populated with their inventory. This is a good alternative if you don't have the time or money to manage a real website. Usually the vendor will populate the website with inventory that's readily available and can be shipped out the same day you request it.

Although pre-populated product websites are easy, during the holiday season those types of website really can backfire on you. As the holiday season progresses most shoppers start to feel the pressure of time, or perhaps they are simply poor planners. At the last minute they may be happy to find your website with plenty of inventory, but in reality very little of it is actually in your store.

If you have one of these pre-populated website you should figure out how to set up a special section that shows your in-store inventory. This is the section of the website you want to lead people to in all your holiday advertising. Here's a few ideas to lead them:

1. Put a large message or holiday image on your home page that says "View our in-store inventory"

2. Create a special website address and include it in all your print ads, for example: www.jewelrystore.com/holiday

My own research has always shown that actual inventory always attracts customers better than inventory that's "only available online." Even though the internet allows all of us to shop any vendor around the world, we would all prefer to buy locally. And it also means the ring is available in reality instead of a potentially fictitious internet warehouse.

Buying locally gives us the ability to talk to a sales person, get in-person support, return unwanted items, and have the person-to-person connection before the purchase is made. The internet allows people to shop price, but you are in the luxury jewelry industry where emotions and personal contact play an important role.

Google understands the importance of local results and continues to improve local search results. Based on all these factors, it's always better to show your actual in-store inventory instead of a large virtual product catalog that a vendor offers.

On the other hand, if you have no choice, then those virtual product catalogs are better than no catalog at all.
AT: 09/28/2012 05:04:08 AM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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