10 Reasons Why Traditional Catalog Design Software No Longer Works for B2B
B2B requirements will overwhelm traditional catalog design software. B2B requirements will overwhelm traditional catalog design software.

In past years, many B2B marketers made a substantial investment in catalog design software. They did this in order to help give their product catalogs a stylized look, similar to that offered by retailers. While they may have had good reasons back then, that approach does not make sense today. Instead, the only feasible strategy for making B2B product catalogs is to achieve 100% automation. Here are 10 important reasons for doing so.

  1. Changing product mix — Most distributors are constantly changing their mix of products. There might be dozens of new products in a single week. And just as many products will have been obsoleted. Using traditional catalog design software, it is impossible for a graphic designer to keep up with such changes. Full automation is the only reasonable approach.
  2. Content updates — Because of competitive pressures, content syndication, and other reasons, product descriptions and attributes will often change from one month to the next. Similarly, images are being upgraded or enhanced at an ever-increasing rate. Without full catalog automation, such frequent updates become unmanageable.
  3. Production costs — The high cost of labor, even outsourced, for using catalog design software will sink today's B2B marketing budgets. Some businesses have responded by cutting out print catalogs altogether, which in turn has hurt sales and customer relationships. The advantage of 100% catalog automation is that costs are no longer a function of the number of publications. Instead, the incremental costs of additional publications is negligible.
  4. Multiple images — There is a growing need in B2B catalogs to present two or more images of each product. This is particularly true in niche markets, because images are so useful for illustrating how products can be used in various applications. While any catalog design software tool will handle multiple images, the problems of image management and usage are dramatically compounded. Full automation is required to minimize the risk of error.
  5. Content quantity — As markets become more segmented and products evolve to match those segments, product content is becoming more comprehensive than ever before. Descriptions are longer and contain more detail, more formatting, and more special notation. There are also more attributes, both at the product family and product sku level. Without full automation, there is almost no chance of avoiding costly errors and/or missing the latest updates.
  6. Embedded HTML — The source of much content for printed catalogs originates with e-commerce systems, or content that was syndicated for that purpose. Such content, which is usually available only as HTML, presents a nearly insurmountable barrier for old-style catalog design software. Catalog software with automated HTML processing is required.
  7. Turnaround time — Providing a quick response is one of the most important ingredients for success in marketing and sales. The faster that marketers can turnaround a catalog request, the greater the value of that catalog. Full automation is essential for this objective.
  8. Complex pricing — In the world of B2B, pricing models have always been complex. Now they are becoming even more so with growing market segmentation. There are many factors, such as dimensions, options, special contracts, tax considerations, and volume, just to name a few. The prices that will appear in catalogs must come from a data feed, and only an automated catalog software solution can reliably use that feed to correctly publish those prices.
  9. e-Commerce synchronization — A multi-channel strategy is a given in today's B2B marketing programs. Any print publications will be used in conjunction with the e-commerce system. It is essential that the customer see the same content in both places. Such an objective is only achievable with 100% automation. Depending on traditional catalog design software to create and maintain the publications will inevitably result in customer confusion, delays, and lost sales.
  10. Custom and specialty catalogs — Every business today has adopted a niche strategy to some degree. Specialty catalogs are a powerful tool for this purpose. They can be used to promote new products, fly under the radar of competitors, test new business opportunities, or match the needs of attendees at special events. With full catalog automation, there is no limit to the number or types of such catalogs that can be easily created. Traditional catalog design software is not cost-effective for this requirement.

Tips for Successful Print Catalog Automation