How To Create An Online Product Catalog With Thomas Navigator And Connect

For manufacturers, generating high-quality leads is all about having the right data, at the right place at the right time. Having your product data in one easy-to-access place allows engineers, procurement professionals, and MROs to find exactly what they’re looking for and quickly determine whether your company may be a good fit for their project. Thomas has been helping some of the most successful industrial companies sell complex industrial parts: 

  1. By leveraging a well-organized online product catalog 
  2. Through technology-configured complex products
  3. Providing information in the necessary formats for different users. i.e. BIM and CAD files, product performance specs and whitepapers 

By focusing on these three aspects of online selling, manufacturers can create a simpler buying process for even the most complex industrial components — and with Thomas’ solutions, the implementation doesn’t even require additional workloads for your team. 

Small business owner - online product catalog

Designing Your Online Product Catalog

Whether you're creating your first online product catalog or upgrading your existing one, there are a few basic things you have to nail down like who your personas are and an online system that can support your product catalog. 

Quick refresh! Personas represent your ideal client and decision-maker. By understanding your personas' challenges and behaviors, you can create the right type of content (and the right placement!) to engage with them and nurture them to convert to leads. Engineers are generally concerned with form, fit, and functionality of their products so make sure your product data is readily available.

A System That Can Support Your Online Product Catalog

With a myriad of components, parts, materials, and details that need to be organized, your online product catalog should be secure and strong enough to support the level of quality your customers expect — yet simple enough for all the necessary members of your business to update and navigate through.

The right online product management platform has you in control through backend tools for self-maintenance and allows your customers to be in control too with a self-serve interface to configure and select the exact products that meet their project requirements.

Partnering with industrial marketing experts to help you create your online product catalog will ensure your products are organized based on how engineers and buyers search, and ultimately get you more sales.

Help Buyers Complete Their Projects With Digital Product Configuration

Complex products can have thousands, or even millions, of different configurations. Does spending many expensive engineering hours helping customers fulfill their exact requirements sound familiar? Are you going above and beyond what can be offered in your catalog — finding correct configurations for complex parts and components?

Thomas’ configuration systems integrated with your online product catalog vastly simplifies this traditional process, providing complex configurations at a fraction of the time and expense it would take otherwise. Product configurator technology can track the most commonly configured items for inventory control and planning, generating specific part numbers, prices, and SPEC documents as needed. When the configuring process is automated, the prices for engineered products can be instantly validated and confirmed against the buyer's requirements, saving valuable customer support time. 

You Might Also Be Interested In: The Manufacturer's Playbook For Direct To Consumer Selling

Thomas Navigator And Connect For Online Product Catalogs

Thomas’ Navigator and Connect technologies incorporate all of the above features into a uniform digital customer experience for your customers — while helping to make ongoing catalog maintenance and updates as simple as possible, across all your platforms and channels. Thomas Navigator is an online product catalog platform designed specifically for manufacturers to organize their products online in a way that is easy for engineers and procurement professionals to search. This platform includes product configuration capabilities, part comparison, CAD/BIM viewers, and the ability to include spec sheets for download — which empowers prospects with rich, up-to-date product information, making the buying process quick and simple. 

Thomas Connect enables product data accuracy by syndicating the data between manufacturers and distributors. It also allows OEMs to assess the performance of their product data and content on their distributors’ websites, in terms of views and downloads.

Advantages Of An Online Product Catalog With Thomas

Does your in-house staff submit product information to distributors and sales channels, spending countless hours gathering data, reformatting it for different systems?

Online catalogs with Thomas have many advantages over their printed counterparts, one of the biggest ones being their flexibility. Mistakes can be corrected, products added or removed, designs changed, and features updated without reprinting the catalog. 

It's simple — putting your customers first generally brings you more success. So in today's super-connected world, Thomas is aiming to help OEMs & distributors meet their goals with solutions that organize detailed product information, ease the buying process, and ultimately, generate more sales. Your online product catalog from the backend will be built just for you (the manufacturer or distributor) and on the front end (for your buyers and customers) — making both of your jobs easier. You will also be able to analyze your content’s performance on your distributor partners’ websites. 

Advantages of Thomas Navigator and Connect for manufacturers & distributors:

  • Allows business owners, marketers, and product managers to easily make updates to their catalog as needed
  • Reduce customer service and engineering hours, and increase customer satisfaction
  • Syndicate product data between multiple OEMs and distributors

Advantages of Thomas Navigator and Connect for your buyers:

  • Ability to configure and select the exact products that meet their project requirements with the most up-to-date information for their projects
  • Easily do product searches and comparisons to quickly make purchases or requests for quote
  • Ability to download product data, submit RFQs, and buy directly online

When comparing Navigator to other platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce, where companies need to manage their own build, Thomas Navigator comes with a team of industrial catalog creation specialists to do the heavy lifting for you. Our specialists will create individual SKU pages of your product data, structure each product category, brand your catalog according to your website design, and more. (If your website pages need some updating, our website design team can do that for you too.)

Learn More: 6 B2B eCommerce Website Examples To Help You Sell More In 2021

These benefits allow you to deliver information on the specific products required by each of your various distributors — managed from one platform, with experts at your side to help you avoid common pitfalls. When the product data is updated once, it will be automatically updated in real-time across all of your sales channels. 

Outperforming Competitors With Thomas’ Ecommerce Online Product Catalog Platform

Online sales giants and today’s new business landscape have forever changed the way buyers buy. Whether the buyer is a consumer looking for shoes, or a design engineer looking for an actuator, the expectation is that the product they’re looking for is easy to find, with detailed information that makes it easy to evaluate and compare that product with similar and competing products. 

Many industrial OEMs lack the resources to provide their various distributors with consistent, high-quality, up-to-date data. But Thomas’ solutions are here to solve those biggest challenges of yours and organize your data to build a robust e-commerce presence that delivers the optimal product experience today’s buyers demand — without adding more workload capacity for you. 

With the right technology in place and the most experienced marketing partners in the industry at your side, manufacturers can still outperform competitors and meet the needs of their industrial buyers in today’s increasingly digital marketplace. Thomas’ solutions help you easily shift your initiatives to direct to consumer selling and build a stronger sales model.

Contact our team of engineering experts to get started with a custom solution for your online product catalog. Increase conversion rates and deliver the most optimal online experience to your customers with an online product catalog that keeps them coming back. For more information on how to build an effective online product catalog, download the eBook here.

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