How can you build a highly effective Product Catalog Management strategy? 

When trying to optimize a complex business process such as a Product Catalog, digital strategies are key to scalability and agility. 


Product Catalog challenges  

Mobile deals, smartphones, TV offerings, internet packages, energy deals or insurance policies…  
E-commerce, point of sales, call center, field sales… 
When did the range services and sales points become so broad?  

In today’s marketplace, a competitive product catalog requires flexibility and attention to detail in order to ensure that the business can continue to grow.  

For telecommunication and energy companies that are increasingly diversifying their services building omnichannel solutions that are flexible and accessible at all points of sale is crucial.  

Investing in a highly effective and organized Product Catalog Management strategy will minimize the cost of launching new product lines and releasing them to all supported channels. Efficient catalog organization also means a faster "time to market" for all required catalog operations — keeping you one step ahead of the competition.   

One tool means more benefits – It doesn’t matter if you are selling bundled offers, or simpler ones such as subscriptions, pay-as-you-go or others without sold services. Physical goods with installments, recurring or one-time fees, also require you to conduct inventory management for warehouses that will support the products you are selling.  

As the range of the services grows, companies must also manage multiple vendors sending product information in different ways. An effective product catalog support system must be ready to integrate with these systems and ensure stability during multi-tasking operations. 

Team work should be inspiring, not frustrating – Running a multi-product organization usually requires the collaboration of many departments and team members. In some cases, this can mean having a department for each product line. For example, one team may be responsible for configuring mobile offerings, while a second manages TV subscription goods, and another one VAS-es. In some other scenarios, companies may even have separate teams responsible for warehouse management, marketing and price and relations configuration. But the more employees who are involved in a process also means greater challenges in ensuring that everyone is always up to speed and able to carry out updates when required.  

Complexity shouldn’t lead to blackout – Every company that offers recurring services (such as telco or television subscriptions) usually also upsells physical goods and add-ons. They may also launch different types of processes such as acquisition, MNP or retention.  

People from the price configuration department would undoubtedly earn a PhD if these process could be simplified in a rational and easy way. Recurring prices can be the same for the whole contractor or are sometimes accompanied by tiered one-time fees that can be charged either with the first invoice or at the moment purchase. Products sold together might also have different prices when they are sold separately. An installment plan may have a special payment schedule configuration. Discounts can also be applied on the whole customer basket or only on selected products. They can be percentage, for or up-to amount and can be applied on recurring or one-time fees.   

Product relations are like bunk fractions. The catalog should be ready to configure relations such as mandatory, exclude, default or even special types of relations such as those that are mandatory in the sales process but that offer the possibility of resignation once the sales process ends (e.g. with a Try&Buy function). 

In order to handle such complexity, companies should leverage a good quality product catalog management tool able to provide transparency and reliable control over price lists of offers and services. 

Challenge accepted - The challenges associated with creating a product catalog will vary from company to company. However, no matter the challenges, the proper solution brings results: 

Use a product catalog tool to make the most of every transaction – Almost every telco company in Poland market sells mobile handsets along with their subscriptions. Usually if the subscription is higher, the monthly fee for the device is lower. This may seem like a simple process to manage, however, with a few easy changes - in this case, an installment plan for devices - a company can benefit greatly.  

According to Polish law, customers cannot sign-up for a new telecommunication contract with a term longer than 24 months. This obviously restricts device sales, especially from the premium price bracket. And this is where installment plans can offer a huge benefit. Why not to sign two contracts with the customer at the same time instead? After all, installments for physical goods are not limited by any time range. 

Polish smartphone users are increasingly purchasing a device without signing a subscription contract - e.g. they are using prepaid services. Therefore, installment plans for devices can be strongly appealing to these customers.  

In order to make installment plans work, our team developed the following solution: 

  • One offer for a device can contain many installment plans – different plans for different durations. 
  • One offer for a device with installments can be sold individually or together with subscription plans. 
  • One installment plan can contain a one-time fee (pay-now or with the first invoice) and tiered recurring prices (different price tiers are fully configurable - the tier can be further configured for many months or only one). 
  • Installment fees can be discounted if bought together with a subscription plan. Discounts can be percentage or amount, they may also vary ​​depending on the subscription. 
  • Monthly and one-time fee discounts – both are supported in our solution.  
  • The installment plan can be configured manually, or data can be supplied from an external source. 

It’s your offer - you choose the configuration – 2000 subscription offers, 7000 add ons and devices, 5000 different types of discounts – these are real examples of configured offers inside a product catalog that built for one of our customers. Furthermore, over 40 more rules were imposed that needed to be considered in determining whether an offer was available for a particular customer. These transactions were taking place in approximately 1000 sales points (with their own inventory) for several million customers. With such information overload it can be hard to determine the price for a particular device in one of the subscription plans for a certain customer who may be considering retention.   

As a solution incorporated into the product catalog management strategy, Hycom designed and developed a tool called “offer validator”. After login, the user enters the offer id and MSISDN (optional). After that, they receive information about the offer. The scope of presented information is configurable, for example:   

  • Duration  
  • Price (for anonymous or specific customer if MSISDN is added)  
  • Available business process types  
  • Dates of availability  
  • Channels  
  • If MSISDN is added, it also includes information as to whether the customer can buy this offer  

Below this basic information there is a table setting out all the devices and add-ons which are available for the entered service plan offer. The scope of this information also can be configured, for instance:  

  •  SKU (for physical products)  
  • Stock availability  
  • Relation with entered subscription offer (it can be mandatory, default, etc.)  
  • Delivery methods  
  • Prices (those one-time and recurring)   Applied discount  

All this information can be collected from many sources such as product catalog, inventory, and CRM, etc.  

Building a product catalog that can reach across all channels to every point of sale is crucial in today’s digital marketplace. However, this is not an out of the box solution, every business requires a tool that understands both their industry and their particular needs.   

Look at the big picture - Product catalog optimization will give you a faster "time to market" for all required catalog operations — a crucial strategy in staying ahead of the competition.    

With Hycom you can build the highly personalized and effective Product Catalog Management strategy that will minimize costs and optimize processes. Whether you are launching new product lines and releasing them to all channels in your company or simply fine-tuning your offer for existing customers - we can make sure you have the tools to make sure your products reach every channel swiftly and correctly.   

  • Michał Pawłowski

    Senior Consultant

    michal.pawlowski@hycom.pl

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Lucia Camarena

Sales Director DACH

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Marcin Sulikowski

Sales Director Poland

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