What is Product Catalog Ingestion?

March 27, 2024
Robert Ross

In the world of online commerce, product catalogs are the starting block to get your products in front of the digital world. Having your product catalog listings accurate and up-to-date is challenging across the modern supply chain. In today’s world, retailers are focused on satisfying customer expectations, latest product trends, pricing, and other competitors. To achieve this goal, retailers aim to provide their product catalogs through omnichannel strategies such as Business-to-Business (B2B) and Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) marketplaces. While the stated goal sounds simple, ingesting your product data from different suppliers, distributors, vendors, and marketplaces each with their own unique specifications for variants, categories, and attributes becomes a hinderance.

What is a product catalog?

While the concept of a product catalog could be self-explanatory, I would like to spend a few moments to explain it. A useful analogy is to think of a product catalog as a restaurant menu. The menu contains several dishes. In order to easily find items to satisfy your hunger, the menu puts the dishes into categories such as appetizers, entrees, and desserts. In addition, each dish within the categories have a description and the ingredients. Product catalogs function very similarly. A product catalog contains categories such as electronics, home goods, etc. Within the category, products have corresponding attributes such as descriptions, pricing, imagery, and more. A product catalog enables your customers to find what they are interested in easily.

Why is Ingesting a Product Catalog Difficult

In the fast-paced e-commerce environment, B2B and D2C marketplaces face unique challenges when attempting to manage product data from multiple sellers and platforms. To better understand these obstacles, let’s delve into three main problem areas that B2B and D2C marketplaces.

  1. Diversity in Product Catalog: Sellers and Retailers may have unique ways in which they maintain their product data catalogs. The differences can be as simple as varying column names to entirely different data structures. The lack of standardization complicates the process of aggregating and converting product catalogs for use across marketplaces, which yields a substantial barrier to operational efficiency.
  1. Complexity of Data Integration: Integrating product catalogs from various e-commerce platforms into a single marketplace is a time-consuming and intricate task. Each platform may have its unique requirements for listings, encompassing a wide array of attributes, categories, and values. While this process is laborious and time-consuming, it also increases the likelihood of human data entry errors. Such inaccuracies can lead to delays in listing products, further impeding the time-to-market for sellers and retailers.
  1. Operational Inefficiencies and Market Responsiveness: Without an automated solution to streamline the process, marketplaces incur higher operational costs and face resource allocation challenges. These inefficiencies delay the onboarding of new sellers and retailers and the listing of new products, which slows the marketplace’s ability to respond quickly to customer demand and market changes. The sluggish responsiveness undermines a marketplaces’s competitive edge in the dynamic e-commerce landscape.

Addressing these challenges is crucial for B2B and D2C Marketplaces to enhance their operation efficiency, reduce time-to-market, and maintain a competitive stance in the e-commerce industry.

Solution & Future Proofing

When people discus automation, there are two diverging paths. One is a path where a user defines a set of rules that gets executed automatically for subsequent runs. The other path is having an intelligent system determine the rules automatically and execute them. At Lume, we prefer the latter. Stay tuned for my next blog on how B2B and D2C marketplaces can Automate Product Catalog Ingestion.

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