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The Wholesaler's Guide to the Ultimate Online Catalog to Increase Sales

A wholesaler’s products catalog is an essential sales tool, but a paper catalog brings high printing costs and is often out of date within a few months. An online catalog is easy to update, easy to share with customers and can be accessed directly from your website

When your customers go to order your products, what does their journey look like? Traditionally, wholesalers have used specifically tailored paper or emailed catalogs for each category of customer. This creates a long flow of waiting for a customer to receive the new catalog, take the time to browse through it, contact your sales representative for further questions, and finally send an order through email, phone, or even fax.

Recently, customer preferences have begun to change. B2B trends tend to lag behind trends in the consumer world, and the ubiquity of online ordering in our day-to-day lives has led much of your customer base to have a preference for digital orders. The convenience of accessing product information and ordering at a click is now no longer just a differentiator, it’s soon to become the baseline to compete.

Updating your product lists every season or quarter isn’t enough anymore. Creating a dynamic catalog that is tailored to each of your customers and completely available online through your website is the best way to generate interest in your new products, convert more revenue from your existing customers, and simplify your own internal order management process.

Still unsure about digital catalogs? Consider the following questions about your customers’ ordering journey.

  1. How many barriers do they need to overcome before accessing your most up to date catalog?
  2. Do your customers tend to take a long time to place orders with your company?
  3. Do you feel like your available products are always properly represented to your audience?
  4. Does your sales team have to take a long time helping each of your customers process their orders?

If your response to any of these questions is negative, a consistently updated online catalog can alleviate the issues presented by these questions and help your business realize their revenue more quickly, while presenting a more pleasant customer experience.

Read why your business needs to commit to online ordering 

There are benefits to online ordering that most companies see immediately.

  1. It’s easy to update and share information with your customer base far more consistently than it would be to spin up a whole new catalog. This means you can do micro deals, special promotions, or even “low on inventory” sales.
  2. Pricing for regions or company size is no longer a nightmare for your sales team. If your customers log in to look at your product, they can be automatically shown the correct price for their company. You can avoid awkward questions about pricing, and push specific deals on subsets of your customer base.
  3. It simplifies the ordering process for both your customers and sales team, a catalog that allows customers to order directly through it can reduce the strain on your sales team, and let them focus more on finding new revenue opportunities. 
  4. You can tie your inventory directly to your catalogs, ensuring that you no longer have those awkward orders where you don’t have enough product to fill your customer’s demand.
  5. Orders through your catalog can be immediately sent through directly to your ERP or accounting system, without having to manually change information over from system to system. Your sales team can review orders, and send them through your order management process without having to spend large amounts of time typing in new information. This means fewer order errors from clerical mistakes, and a faster time to shipment for each of your orders.
  6. Online catalogs are simple, easy to understand and what people are used to. Simply put, your company provides a clean experience for your customers that makes browsing your products more enjoyable and putting an order together easier to do.

To provide your customers with a truly exceptional ordering experience, your existing catalog information has to be optimized for online ordering. Everything your customer needs to place an order with your company should to available and easy to understand. Reviewing and optimizing the following areas of your catalog will increase sales and improve your customers experience ordering from your company.

Optimizing your online wholesale catalog

If you’ve decided to give online catalogs a try, or want to make sure that your existing online catalog is as good as it can be, there are a few ways that you can optimize yours to be as effective as possible. In short, everything your customer needs to place an order with your company should be readily available and easy to understand. To help, we’ve put together a few categories to focus on that will help you create an ideal online ordering experience for your customers.

Product Information

No matter what’s being sold, people want to see images of your products. To use a cliche, a picture tells a thousand words and images are the best way to represent both your product and your brand. Visual elements are also a great way to grab customers’ attention, especially when they’re scanning through your catalog to find products they want.

At the same time, presenting each of your items with images can help your customers notice products they might not have originally been searching for. This encourages them to discover and pull more products from your catalog that they might not have been originally looking for. In a sense, think of it like browsing Amazon for something to buy. Sometimes you end up searching for one thing, and before you know it your shopping cart is full with stuff you didn’t expect to buy, but suddenly really need. 

Product Inventory

Full product descriptions are often overlooked by wholesale suppliers, but are very very important to your customers. The information for each of your products should communicate everything they need to know in the language they care about (not how you internally describe it). Everything about the product should be described,  like color, size, case quantities, zoning, and even additional information on its specific uses. 

If you truly want bonus points, give your customers information about your product they can use to sell it on to their end consumers. For example, you could have “Soft brie cheese, 12 inch rounds, case quantity of one per order, $29.99” as the entirety of your description, but it doesn’t give your customer a reason for why they should buy, or much to go on if they want to sell it onwards. 

By adding information like “This creamy brie was made from the milk of cows who graze entirely on wildflowers in the French Alps under the watchful gaze of Trappist monks. Renowned for its smooth texture, complex taste, and rind bound in birch bark, this cheese is sure to delight connoisseurs to no end.” you can make your customers as excited about the product as their end audience will be.

Pricing and Deals

You can use your online catalog to display different pricing to different customers. Since each one of your customers needs to log in to see your options, you can group them by specific buckets and push specific prices into each bucket. This reduces pricing confusion by your sales team, makes sure that everyone is paying what they’re supposed to, and simplifies price book management for your team.

Perhaps more importantly, you can use online ordering to target specific buckets with deals that are interesting to them. Do you have a product that you want to sell more of to mid-market customers? With a bucketed online catalog, you can push deals specifically to that group of customers without having to create a special offer. This isn’t gated by creating a new flier, just pressing a few buttons — expanding your range of sales tactics by giving you the ability to put up limited time sales at any time.


There’s nothing worse to a customer than building up an order only to find out you don’t have the products available. Online catalogs can be synced directly with your inventory system, meaning that products that are sold out can be either hidden or displayed as such. You can also present your inventory on certain products in live-time to give your customers a sense of urgency to purchase. This can also work both ways, as orders put through your online catalog can be used to directly update your inventory numbers, making sure that you always have an accurate count of what your stock is, and what needs to be shipped.

For more information on how you can create the optimal online catalog for your customers, reach out to OrderEase today and book a discovery call about our online ordering solution today.

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