No matter if you look at fashion retailers, cruise lines or even e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, more and more companies are publishing not only digital catalogs but also physical product catalogs to promote their goods.
But creating and maintaining fully-fledged product catalogs is an art of its own.
In this article, we are going to introduce you to 20 of the best catalog software you should use in 2021 to make the most of your catalog management process.
What Is Product Catalog Management?
Product catalog management is the process of creating and maintaining your physical or digital e-commerce product catalog. Before we introduce you to the best catalog software solutions in 2021, we will cover all of the basics of product catalog management.
Product catalog management is a subcategory of marketing project management that ensures that all your customers, whether B2B or B2C, have access to your latest product data and visuals in order to boost revenue across all targeted sales channels.
Furthermore, product catalog management is not a one-off project, but an ongoing task.
The most important tasks of efficient catalog management can be summarized as follows:
- Planning: Determine which products will be added to your catalog.
- Creation: Create new product entries and add discounts, trials or other events.
- Maintenance: Update current product data if necessary.
- Review and approval: Make sure your team and superiors agree with the content.
- Distribution: Distribute your physical or online catalogs on a regular basis.
Depending on how many products you offer, the markets you serve, the scale of your business and how many details you want to include, catalog management can become a heavyweight task, one that requires a lot of resources and cross-functional collaboration.
Since the marketing and design functions of most companies are notoriously overworked and need to keep up with tight deadlines on an almost daily basis, you should use product management software to streamline and automate processes as much as possible, no matter if you need to create physical or online catalogs.
In the following section, we list the benefits you can gain by using capable product catalog management software.
What Is Catalog Software and Why Should You Use It?
No matter what kind of marketing resource management tool you use, catalog management software can help you streamline your workflows through catalog design templates and automation features that reduce the time you spend on your projects.
Catalog management is more complex than you might think.
Catalog content management is much more complicated than people would expect at first sight. You need to have a good overview of all upcoming products, plan which of these will be included in your catalog and make sure all other product information is up-to-date.
This involves collaboration across multiple departments. While marketing managers are usually responsible for the planning and distribution phase, the actual creation process is performed by the design department as well as internal or external copywriters.
Catalog management software contributes to the bottom line.
Good catalog software solution not only helps you shorten the implementation phase, but it also helps you plan, maintain and distribute your catalog with minimal effort.
Additionally, if you use physical catalogs, errors will result in huge costs, as there is no way you can distribute a finished catalog with incorrect pricing or product information. Therefore, good product catalog software helps you increase consistency and mitigate failure rates.
As product catalog management software enables you to create catalogs with stunning visuals and convincing product descriptions, it directly contributes to the bottom line of your business.
Are you convinced? Since you now have a good overview of what product catalog management entails and why you should make use of product management software, let’s take a closer look at 20 of the most commonly used product catalog management software solutions.
Overview of 20 Catalog Software Tools
What is the best software to make a catalog? In the following section, we evaluate the Top 20 catalog management software you should try out in 2021.
Filestage – more than just catalog management
Filestage is an online proofing software that helps marketing and creative teams streamline the content review and approval process of catalogs, brochures and any other digital assets. The cloud-based platform offers annotation and markup tools that allow users to leave clear and precise feedback directly in the file. Further collaboration features make it easy to discuss feedback with others.
Additionally, Filestage automatically reminds all stakeholders to leave their feedback and approve the asset in time. Without these features, the communication in this review process usually happens through long email threads which can get very messy and time-consuming. In Filestage, everything happens in one place which makes it easy for project managers to keep an overview of each file’s progress.
By managing your review and approval process with Filestage, you will reduce time and effort while increasing quality and consistency throughout all your content.
Filestage starts at $89/month.
Adobe InDesign – full design customization
Without a doubt, the Adobe Creative Cloud is one of the most customizable creative software solutions that can be used to create your catalogs.
Before you subscribe to the Creative Cloud, you need to be aware that Adobe InDesign is not suitable for beginners. You need to have creative staff on board to make efficient use of this design software.
Adobe InDesign starts at $20.99/month.
Adobe Spark – creative tool for beginners
Adobe Spark is also available in the Adobe Creative Cloud and allows people with limited design knowledge to capitalize on its tools and make the most of the catalog management process.
Adobe Spark consists of a wide range of tools that can help you create graphics and videos to include in your digital catalogs in order to boost your e-commerce sales.
Additionally, the creative catalog software has a lot of publication tools to help you reach your audience in seconds.
Adobe Spark starts at $9.99/month and offers various graphic design tools for individuals and small enterprises.
Akeneo – for product information management (PIM)
Akeneo is a product information management (PIM) system with which you can collect and manage all your product information and product descriptions in a single place.
The product catalog management software lets you create a stunning catalog that you can easily distribute to all of your sales channels.
Akeneo can be used by marketers, retailers, e-commerce managers and data governance teams to enrich product specs, add translations, classify product data and ensure consistency. Moreover, it is an all-encompassing PIM solution for SMEs to large corporations.
Visit Akeneo’s website to install the free open-source community edition or get a custom demo of the enterprise edition.
Canva – catalog software for beginners
With Canva you can create stunning visuals for your catalog from a variety of customizable design templates – even without any prior design knowledge.
Drag and drop options enable you to combine different visual elements to create unique images. Even though Canva is not a fully-fledged catalog software, it can help you create professional designs for your catalog pages.
While Canva Basic is free, the Pro plan starts at $12.95/month.
Catalog Machine – easy catalog software management
If you need to produce a stunning digital software catalog, Catalog Machine offers all the tools you need. This product catalog management software allows you to create and share product catalogs both online and in PDF form.
With the help of customizable templates for a wide range of products and industries, you do not need any technical or design knowledge to create unique catalogs.
The integrated online database of Catalog Machine helps you store all product information in one place, while the catalog builder enables easy conversion of these product descriptions into a wide range of customizable catalog types.
Catalog Machine Lite starts at $19/month and includes space for 100 products, 5 catalogs and 50 pages.
Catalog Maker – affordable digital catalog creator
Product Maker lets you create clear and stylish touch brochures and catalogs. With this software, you can create, import, export and view all of your catalog collections. The catalog software is especially designed for touch devices and works with Windows 8.1, Windows 10, IOS or Android systems.
Single ticket usage is available at only $1.50, while monthly plans start at an affordable $12.
CleverCat – hybrid catalog management software
CleverCat is a cloud-based product catalog management software that uses intuitive drag-and-drop tools to help you create printing templates in minutes instead of weeks or even months.
The hybrid application catalog software combines the design flexibility of page design software with the speed and ease of database-driven catalog software.
With CleverCat, you can easily import and synchronize product data using a CSV file and add texts, prices, quantities, dates, photos or barcodes to the template designer.
Furthermore, CleverCat cooperates with Yumpu.com to convert your PDF catalogs into an appealing flipbook format.
CleverCat’s yearly subscription starts at $119.
DCatalog – digital catalogs publishing tool
DCatalog focuses on the last step of the catalog management process. This one-stop digital publication platform allows you to easily publish your PDF content across multiple channels, including your e-commerce platforms.
The digital catalog creator mainly caters to publishers and marketing professionals to publish HTML5 digital flipbooks.
DCatalog includes a wide range of analytical tools which let you track the number of visitors, page views, time spent, links clicked on and much more so that you can further improve your catalogs.
Contact sales to request a demo and a quote.
FlipHTML5 – free flipbook designer
FlipHTML5 is a catalog creator software with a focus on interactive flipbooks. Whether you want to employ links, images or even sounds and videos, FlipHTML5 comes with a wide range of interactive elements that will make your product presentation stand out.
With FlipHTML5, you can turn your PDF or office/openoffice documents and images into visually appealing magazines, catalogs and books. Moreover, you can easily publish your flipbook by using the publishing catalog software.
FlipHTML5 is available for free. With the pro version starting at $12.50/month, you can disable the FlipHTML5 watermark stamp and add more features.
FlippingBook – interactive PDF catalog creator
FlippingBook helps you convert your PDFs and publish digital flipbooks. Additionally, you can easily track the assets’ performance and bring your e-commerce platform to the next level.
With FlippingBook, you make the most of your digital catalog by transforming still images into engaging and interactive designs which can even collect sales leads.
No matter if you are a B2B manufacturer or a B2C marketer, FlippingBook is a multi-purpose product catalog management software that will make your product stand out from the crowd.
The FlippingBook starter plan is available at $44/month.
Flipsnack – flipbook catalog creator and publishing platform
Flipsnack is a catalog software that offers a wide range of design tools with which you can turn your standard catalog into a unique and interactive flipbook.
Whether you want to create something completely new with drag and drop editing tools or start off from templates – Flipsnack has the solution for you and your design needs.
In addition to a wide range of design functions, Flipsnack also offers advanced features, such as publishing options as well as analytical tools that you can use to make improvements when needed.
While the basic plan is free, the starter plan comes at $14/month and integrates publishing and sharing options.
iPaper – shoppable flipbooks
iPaper is an interactive promotion tool and catalog creator that allows you to create promotion banners and shoppable flipbooks.
iPaper offers multiple features with which you can automatically add product links, customize checkout flows and track the performance of all of your promotions.
With iPaper, you can create and publish promotions and shoppable catalogs for a huge variety of markets; its intuitive no coding interface makes it possible. Depending on the subscription that you choose, you can also gain access to a wide variety of catalog automation features.
The shoppable flipbook commerce light edition starts at $300/month.
Issuu – convert your PDFs into interactive catalogs and Instagram stories
Issuu brings your product content to a new level. With the Issuu catalog creator, you can tell your brand’s story by turning PDFs into engaging articles and videos.
Using Issuu, your catalogs can easily be shared on social media and enriched with SEO keywords for organic growth. Thanks to the analytical features of Issuu, you can also get a thorough insight into your reads, impressions, average time spent and many more stats.
Issuu reaches over 50 billion page views in a year on its innovative product content publication platform, making it a perfect tool for marketers, designers and social media managers.
Issuu Basic is available for free while the starter subscription plan is available at $19.
Lucidpress – creative brand templates
Lucidpress offers all the tools you need to tell your visual brand story – no matter if you are an individual content creator, an SME or an enterprise.
Customizable interfaces allow you to create unique high-quality designs, while the Lucidpress workflow management tools enable you and your team to collaborate efficiently.
To get started, you can choose between hundreds of templates which cater to a wide variety of industries and products.
The basic Lucidpress package is available for free, while professional teams can start at $10/month.
MyCreativeShop – catalog printing services
MyCreativeShop delivers many design templates for multiple purposes, such as flyers, postcards, brochures, door hangers and other marketing assets.
In fact, MyCreativeShop offers 25,000 customizable templates, 3,500 of which are specific to brochures and catalogs. You can also use the editing tool for a multitude of customization options.
MyCreativeShop not only helps you create digital assets but physical assets as well. If needed, you can even order printed materials directly from the platform (if your company is based in the United States or Canada).
MyCreativeShop is available at $19.95/month.
Pagination – turn your product data into compelling brand stories
Pagination is a very useful platform that allows you to take data from virtually any source and convert it into compelling and attractive brand stories.
You can convert Excel, Access, SQL, Magento, Prestashop and many more types of files into beautiful documents.
In Pagination, automated workflows allow you to integrate your data inside the document – saving time and leading to more consistency and higher quality output.
Whether you want to create high-quality price lists or beautiful catalogs, the Pagination catalog creator offers efficient tools to upgrade your visual storytelling.
Pagination’s professional version is available at $550/year.
Publitas – publish catalogs with ease
Publitas can help SMEs and large corporations create dynamic flyers, visuals and catalogs and then publish them on the web. Accordingly, your customers will get an enhanced desktop and mobile shopping experience which will result in higher sales.
This publishing platform has over 60 million monthly readers and more than 900 million monthly page views. Additionally, Publitas not only serves as a digital platform but also enables you to easily print all of your publications.
The Publitas Bronze Plan starts off at $29/month.
Scribus – open source publishing platform
Scribus is a free publishing software that comes with a wide range of useful tools, including vector drawing, multiple file type support and rendering of markup languages like LaTeX or Lilypond.
Scribus offers an open source desktop publishing solution that has a steep learning curve, but includes a lot of functions at no costs.
If your design team has the capabilities needed, Scribus offers one single solution to create stunning brochures, magazines and catalogs which are perfectly customizable to your needs.
Scribus is available for free.
Webpublication – InDesign capabilities for beginners
Webpublication is an intuitive platform that enables you to make use of Adobe’s InDesign functionalities, even if you have never worked with the complex program before.
The intuitive drag and drop interface results in the creation of stunning interactive catalogs, digital magazines, press kits, reports, advanced PowerPoint presentations and much more.
With Webpublication, you can save valuable time, streamline your creative design process and achieve higher quality results and more consistency at a much cheaper price.
This results in a unique customer experience and will contribute to the bottom line of your organization.
Get in touch with the Webpublication sales team for a demo, pricing and further product information.
Now that we have described our picks of the Top 20 catalog software, the next section will take a look at the best design tools and templates that you can use without spending a single penny.
Free Catalog Maker and Catalog Templates
How can I make a catalog for free? As you can see from the examples above, there is a lot of useful product catalog management software on the market that can help you achieve your desired results.
However, some of the solutions come at a price which individuals or SMEs cannot afford. Therefore, in this section, we focus on the most commonly used free catalog management software.
Canva offers a free plan with a lot of perks, such as 250,000+ free templates, more than 100 design types as well as multiple design collaboration tools. Take a look at the website to check out the multitude of templates that Canva has to offer. From posters, to logos and infographics – you will certainly find the right customizable template to make the most out of your brand story.
The basic version of the Lucidpress catalog creator is available for free and offers many attractive features, such as access to stock photos and icons. The free version is great for beginners but is restricted to three documents with a limit of only three pages each. However, you can gain access to over 800 free templates. Lucidpress basic is especially useful for individuals and small companies that only need a small catalog to present their portfolio.
FlipHTML5 delivers amazing flipbooks to tell a compelling and interactive brand story. The basic version offers a lot of features, such as five publications to be uploaded a day and 500 pages per book, which is enough for most companies. Note that the free version does leave a watermark on your flipbooks; this is only deleted with the paid subscription plans.
Freepik makes the lives of your design team easier by offering a wide range of free vectors, stock photos and PSDs that can be used for the next design project of your organization. Through the free version, you can gain access to thousands of resources, while the paid version offers a wider range of features and premium resources.
Flipsnack has a free basic plan that allows you to create up to three different catalogs or other marketing assets with a limit of 30 pages or 100MB. You can take advantage of a wide range of catalog templates catering to products, fashion, books and business purposes. If you want to design your own templates from scratch, you need to sign up for the starter version of Flipsnack.
Template.Net provides a huge variety of free catalog templates for many different purposes and industries, including advertising, automotive, education, health, engineering and fashion, just to name a few. No matter if you need templates for Adobe PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign, Apple Pages, Microsoft Word, or other file formats, Template.Net is worth a try, even if you are looking for very specific design templates.
If you do not find the right template at Template.Net, TemplateLab is another very popular free template source which offers more specialized design templates. Template.Net mainly focuses on business and legal templates, but also includes further categories such as personal, real estate, education and art & media templates. You can be sure you will find the right template for your company if your needs fit into one of these categories.
Now that you have a better understanding of the most commonly used product catalog management software that you can use to achieve your goals, we will take a deeper look at the actual catalog creation workflow.
Catalog Creation Workflow: How to Design a Catalog
We already mentioned the most important tasks that the product catalog workflow involves. In this section, we describe in more detail how you can design a catalog from scratch and how you can set up and execute your content management plan.
1. Briefing and Concept
The first stage determines the general outline and appearance of your product catalog. Depending on the company, it is usually the marketing or design team that is responsible for establishing the layout of the new catalog.
Make sure everyone knows how many products and services should be displayed, how many pages are needed and what information should be included. This includes your entire product range, plus the upcoming ones, the current portfolio and prices as well as events such as discounts and trials.
If you have never made a catalog before or your company is branching out into a new arena, you can get inspiration from the various catalog templates as mentioned above. To get a better starting point, we also recommend the thorough blog entry by Pagination of how to make a catalog.
The briefing and concept stage needs external input from a wide variety of sources, including product managers, who can give you the relevant product information, specifications and other details to embed in your catalog.
Once you receive all of the necessary product information, you can start outlining your content workflow in more detail and then brief the designers and copywriters so that they can create the first draft of your catalog.
2. Creating the content for the catalog
Every creative team needs a briefing to know exactly what kind of content they need to produce. The design team usually creates the first layout of the catalog including title page, product pages, category pages and all other designs that are needed.
After receiving all of the necessary product information, copywriters can write compelling headlines, texts and product descriptions that convince your audience. Depending on your products, you also might need to hire a photographer to take photographs.
Once your design team has agreed on a layout, your copywriters have finished the texts for each page and you have great images of all your products, the content creator and the design team work together to bring your catalog to life.
3. Reviewing the catalog content
Now the main stakeholders, such as product managers, marketing managers and others, need to review the catalog and give their feedback and ultimately, approval. If you do not have a review and approval software in place, this step will get messy, as you have to get through numerous email conversations, of which you will eventually lose track of – especially if multiple people are involved.
With an online proofing software like Filestage, the entire review and approval process can be managed in one centralized platform. After uploading the catalog, every reviewer can easily leave comments, annotations and suggestions. The reviewers can even discuss their feedback with each other in real time. You also don’t need to remind reviewers to give their feedback or approval in time, since they will be automatically notified about changes in the project.
4. Making revisions
Once all stakeholders have left their feedback, the design team and copywriters can start implementing the changes. Another benefit of approval software is that editors can easily reply to comments from stakeholders if any requested change is unclear. Also, it’s easy to keep an overview of all feedback since resolved comments can be marked as read. After all changes have been made, the revised version of the catalog can be uploaded and shared again with the reviewers for a second review round.
5. Approval of the final catalog
Once every reviewer is satisfied with the catalog, they can easily approve the file within one click. In Filestage, every approval is time stamped and documented, so that the project manager can easily track them and deal with any questions or concerns that arise. Project managers can also export a review report that includes all of the drafts of the catalog, including the comments and review decisions of each reviewer.
3 Best Practices of Great Catalogs
To conclude our blog about the best catalog management software, we would like to leave you with a couple of best practices that you could incorporate in your next catalog creation project.
Be a storyteller.
If you take a look at the latest Lego catalogs, you will find that the main page always comes with a certain story and a call to action. While the August / September 2020 edition invites children to join an adventure with Super Mario, the October and Holiday 2020 editions show you how to spend more quality time with your family during the pandemic or how to make the most of your holidays.
Tip: Make sure you do not just display your products but combine them with a theme to tell a story to your audience.
User-friendliness is not always easy to achieve, especially if you have a huge portfolio. The Asus product guide of December 2020 shows how content management is done right – You can see the entire product range without getting overwhelmed. Readers know from the get-go what they can expect from the entire catalog.
Tip: Make sure to add a clear summary at the beginning of your catalog.
Target your audience.
If you have a diverse audience, it makes sense to customize the information related to your products and services according to your markets and target groups. For instance, the furniture company Vestre offers different product catalogs for multiple currencies, such as the US Dollar, Euro, Pound Sterling as well as different markets, such as Norway and Sweden.
Tip: If your markets are divided by language or currency, for example, you might think about publishing multiple catalogues, one for each of your markets.
As you can see, product content management is not an easy task. The creation of physical and digital catalogs can be very time-consuming – especially if you do not have the right software at hand. We hope we have given you a good overview of all of the available software solutions, so that you can streamline your catalog management workflow while increasing your ROI.