Sales journey and company success

Product catalogs as part of the sales journey

A PLM Open Hour from Intelliact AG

Secure competitive advantages with product catalogs

As an integral component, product catalogs can have a major impact on the sales journey and therefore on the company's success. As a marketing tool, they serve to inform and convince customers and thus also contribute to improving customer loyalty.

Product catalogs can be embedded in an application as part of a interactive configuration of the product. This allows customers to configure their product with the right components according to their wishes in just a few steps and place it in the shopping cart. Another option in addition to configuration is direct selection and ordering of products. It is important for both applications that the product information for different customer groups is prepared in a catalog in such a way that users can order the desired products with minimal interaction with the system.

The vertical business data model as a solution approach

Depending on the product, the vertical hierarchy comprises different levels, starting with the part or assembly and leading via the components to the overall product, which can then be used in different applications. Further levels are possible depending on the product. In addition to the product itself, the user group looking at this product is always important. For example, an end user is looking for different information than a system integrator or a plant manufacturer - these different needs must be mapped accordingly in the product model.

© Intelliact AG Level-appropriate provision of product information and clear responsibilities for the required hierarchy levels
© Intelliact AG Level-appropriate provision of product information and clear responsibilities for the required hierarchy levels

Focus on users and the customer journey

The more you know about the user group, the more effective and efficient the customer journey can be. The following questions are crucial for optimally aligning a product catalog with user needs:

  • Who is the customer (end customer, internal specialist, etc.), what is their level of knowledge and what are their needs?
  • What is the easiest way for each customer to reach their goal?

Accordingly, the users or user groups must be defined as precisely as possible. It is also extremely important to know exactly how the respective user moves through an application. In other words, which customer journey does he or she take from access to the product overview and selection to the order? On this basis, information can be presented in the product model in a "level-appropriate" way. At the same time, a finely tuned user interface is needed to optimally map this customer journey. After all, an attractively designed user interface is crucial for the acceptance of an application. The aim of all these steps is always to guide the customer to the order in as few steps as possible.

Requirements for the backend and product data preparation

The different requirements of the various users at each hierarchy level place demands on the product data in the background or on the structure of the architecture and the actual backend (e.g. ERP or CMS). The hierarchy must be structured in such a way that all user groups receive the information relevant to them at the right time.

It is also important that the responsibilities for the required hierarchy levels are clearly defined: Who is responsible for the data, who maintains the data? Where the data is maintained is again a question of architecture and ultimately also of the backend. The data is often already available, but the decisive factor is adequate aggregation in the product model so that the data can be used sensibly in the application. A "composable architecture", which is made up of various solution modules, is recommended here.


Product catalogs as part of the sales journey

Product catalogs create a real competitive advantage if they pick up the user's perspective on the product and are embedded accordingly in a data context familiar to the user and a good user journey. The focus here is on important questions as part of "customer centricity": who the user is, what the user knows about the product, and how the user can most intuitively navigate through the product selection process. This PLM Open Hour was based on the vertical business data model presented by Lukas Haas and included practical examples.

In this PLM Open Hour, we used examples to show how product catalogs were integrated into a good user journey. We explained examples.

  • How a good customer journey is developed,
  • how product catalogs are embedded as an integral component and
  • how this can improve customer loyalty

Or click through the presentation here:

Do you have any questions?