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Ecatalog - a Key Component of Ecommerce Initiative

First type of the Internet business models that created a different business method was Business to Consumer (B2C) eCommerce. Business to Business eProcurement systems and web-based storefronts were two other models that emerged next. The eProcurement systems became widely popular instantly due to the factor that Internet-based automated buying solutions are capable of considerable reducing Maintenance, Repair and Operating expenses, which, in turn, makes direct impact on the bottom line of a company. Web-based storefront, on the other hand, provides a low-cost channel for the global marketing and sales of goods and services.

In recent years, Internet virtually has become major driving force of economic and technological growth in many industries. It is fundamentally changing the way companies operate, do their trade and interact with each other and it is giving birth to new processes and business models that were previously unimaginable.

The next business model that changed the perception of doing business online was eMarketplaces. An eMarketplace is an online venue which brings together multiple buyers and sellers and makes it easier for them to communicate, collaborate and trade as members of a large community.

The fourth online business model has combined key aspects of all the above mentioned business methods and is known as Enterprise B2B Portal or Private B2B Exchange. The business world sees enormous changes across industries due to the emergence of this unique solution. Enterprise B2B Portal with supply chain management features is capable of streamlining procurement and sales processes, cutting overhead costs, increasing efficiency, while maximizing profit and helping bottom line savings for companies.

No doubt that B2B eCommerce presents enormous new business opportunities. But to realize these massive opportunities businesses must overcome some significant technical impediments. The most extreme and critical of these challenges involve creating, managing and distributing product content. All four of the above mentioned online business models face this crucial problem.

Product Content and eCatalog

Accurate and complete product content improves quality and speed of purchasing decisions by giving buyers the vital information needed. For sellers content differentiates their products and enables them to participate in multiple eMarketplaces, eProcurement systems and in their very own B2B Portal. The eMarketplaces and eProcurement systems must deliver content, with value added information such as ratings, reviews, regulatory compliances and service information to attract new users, retain the old ones and fulfill the needs of their diverse buyer and supplier communities.

Creating high quality product content is difficult because different suppliers use different descriptions, attributes and parameters to describe the same item. Managing product information becomes even more complex with the addition of value-added content such as editorial articles, service information and third party reviews.

Moreover, Buyers and Sellers have totally different approach and require different functions from a product content management solution. Buyers need a comprehensive content management system which allows them to take conclusive buying decision with minimum of effort and cost. Suppliers want a system that enables them to manage their brand, control their product descriptions, pricing, and discount policies.

The need for an advanced eCatalog

Despite its critical nature, product information management has been grossly underestimated by most of early eCommerce projects, which tend to focus on more high profile technologies, such as transaction engines and user interfaces. However, few of these B2B projects put required emphasize on the management of product content. As a result, many of them are beginning to realize that they have condoned the challenge of managing product information and that such oversights are hindering the overall effectiveness and scalability of their eCommerce initiatives. Actually, very few of eCommerce initiatives today have the right resources to support the activities required for aggregating, maintaining, and delivering high quality product content. In order to overcome this major hurdle eCommerce initiatives have to improve their ability to acquire, manage and update product content with the help of an advanced eCatalog system.

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