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Do you have an eCommerce business? Great. That means you’re up and running online, and have a reasonably good knowledge of all things on the internet. It’s important that every aspect of your business is brought up to date, however. Yes, you can advertise your online business through posters, newspaper ads, and word of mouth. You can distribute paper catalogs to anyone who is interested. You can give out business cards. These marketing methods will never die and they most certainly have their uses. This article will hopefully convince you that your eCommerce business needs to have an online catalog harnessed to it.

You may think the same way that I did, that only certain industries put their product information online. As part of our research, we only had to visit to see that a host of different businesses had created online catalogs. They ranged from cars and supermarkets to fashion and garden products.

What’s wrong with having a paper catalog? Nothing. We’ve just said they have their uses – but they do have their limitations as well. Let’s suppose someone rings you up and asks for a catalog and you agree to post one to them. What’s the risk? While they are waiting for the postman, they may find a rival company that has an online catalog. The sale then goes to them instead of you.

Accessible Anywhere

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People may walk into your workplace and ask for a paper catalog. Great. What if they can’t get to you or if they live in another state or even another country? Online catalogs can be accessed from anywhere – and they can be read immediately. The other key factor here is that a product can be purchased immediately too! Think about someone sitting at home with a paper catalog, filling in a paper order form and posting it to you. Wouldn’t you prefer to have an instant purchase before they can consider shopping somewhere else?

In recent years people might have seen your website advertised on Facebook or Instagram. They might then have requested the paper catalog. The opportunity now is that people can see the catalog link advertised on a social media page – or a link to one specific product – and they can then visit and potentially buy it immediately.

People still read product information in written form, but consider how many people also use computers, tablets, and phones. It’s important that you can get sales through every channel that people are using.

Global Audience

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SEO (or search engine optimization) is a massive factor affecting sales. If you place your catalog online and include the right keywords that people will be searching for, you increase your chance of being spotted. People who aren’t even looking for your company may discover it when they enter those words. They may be anywhere in the world. Imagine expanding your reach to a global audience!

If you love paper catalogs, it will be comforting to learn that digital catalogs can have the same ‘feel’ where you can swipe online to turn the pages. There can be a compelling picture on the front page to attract your audience, just as if it was delivered through your letterbox. Do you love searching the index at the back of a paper one? Online catalogs have search boxes, including ones that allow you to refine that search. That means it is even easier to find what you are looking for.

Fast Increase in Sales

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If you create the catalog and connect related products, you can increase your sales too. That means that someone looking for garden spades might see the photo of a garden fork too. They didn’t come on to your website to buy the fork, but now they’ve seen it, they might!

Do you ever fold the corner of a page in a paper catalog if you’re interested in something specific? You can do the same thing online, saving specific pages for future reference, to save time. Rather than tearing out the page of a catalog, you can print all or some of the pages from an online version.

Your paper version won’t have space for extensive customer reviews for every product, but you will have that capacity online. You don’t have to display everything all at one online, however – you can use drop-down menus. Someone might want to change the currency or look at the detailed product description, and they can do so at the press of a button. If your online version is cumbersome and not user friendly, you will lose sales. If you set up a quality catalog using the best means available, however, you’ll have nothing to fear.

Lots of Options

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A paper order form can be one-dimensional but an online version can be full of helpful drop-down menus and options that you only access when you need them.

You might be worried as to how you can create catalog pages online. Fortunately, there are free online catalog makers you can use. It is possible to locate free professional templates that you can adjust to suit your products. It is surprisingly easy too, so don’t panic if you are not a computer programmer! You might need to hire a copywriter for the product descriptions but it will be worth the investment. The same goes for using a quality camera or photographer for the product photos. If you’ve already created a paper catalog however, the chances are you have most of what you need already.

How often do your paper catalogs get out of date? How often do the prices change, your stock gets diminished or replaced? Imagine having an online catalog that you can update on a daily basis. People won’t be frustrated or disappointed that you are providing obsolete data. Speaking of data, it will all be stored online for you, so it won’t be lost like paperwork can be.

It is possible for you to continue your business just using paper catalogs. If you have an eCommerce business already though, it’s very ironic that you are not going that little step further. The fact is, it’s the customers who are paying your bills – and they will expect to find all they want on your website. They will want to instantly buy from there too. If you lag behind, your business will not grow and could seriously lose ground to your rivals. Continue with your paper information by all means, but go online if you want an almost limitless audience and plenty of space for expansion.