How to Overcome Challenges in Supplier Catalog Onboarding for Wholesalers

Karthikeyan Jawahar - June 18, 2024
Image of a warehouse full of boxes and products.

“Our #1 issue is supplier catalog onboarding,” say many wholesalers in b2b ecommerce. Nearly two-thirds of business buyers (64%) today are millennial or Gen Z, and they’re reshaping the B2B industry. The new generation of buyers all expect a seamless buying experience with access to digital catalogs, diverse product ranges, transparent availability & pricing, and rich product data.

For wholesalers, offering a seamless experience isn’t easy. Handling the efficient management of hundreds of suppliers and their product catalogs, at scale, is one of the biggest barriers they face. Inconsistent data, low data quality, and varying formats make it difficult to manage an accurate digital catalog online effectively. 

With 70% of buyers saying that richness of product information and imagery is key for them, supplier catalog onboarding is much more than just an operational challenge. It’s the number one issue that distributors face today. 

That’s why leading wholesalers like Graybar are using Mirakl Catalog Platform (MCP), to manage and scale their supplier product catalog onboarding. 

Why is onboarding supplier catalogs so challenging?

As product assortment grows, wholesalers are now managing hundreds of suppliers and millions of SKUs, pushing the limits of what they can do manually. Suppliers often have varying categories and formats, provide 200+ product attributes per SKU, and exhibit significant differences in their levels of maturity and integration methods, such as online forms, bulk import, API, and FTP. 

According to McKinsey & Company, it often takes 10-15 interactions with each supplier to launch a single SKU, with 2-5 hours spent verifying product data per SKU. This involves numerous manual collaboration processes, and communications via emails, phone calls, and file exchanges, complicating creates and you have a recipe for extremely complicated data collection and collaboration 

💡Did you know? The average wholesale distributor faces 15,000 issues with inaccurate product data per year

These challenges can negatively impact the business and contribute to:

  • Long Time to Market: Manual processes lead to operational inefficiencies and bottlenecks, straining capabilities and prolonging onboarding, which delays product availability and reduces wholesalers' ability to quickly meet market demands.

  • High Referencing Costs: Manual data handling increases labor costs and resources spent on catalog management.

  • Poor Customer Experience: Incomplete or inaccurate product data not only leads to low conversion rates but also high return rates due to incorrect information, compounding operational inefficiencies. Furthermore, buyers expect detailed product descriptions and the ability to filter by attributes; failing to meet these expectations, as noted by Forrester, where 71% of shoppers expect basic attribute filtering, results in dissatisfaction and lost sales.

Introducing the Mirakl Catalog Platform 

To address the numerous challenges associated with supplier catalog onboarding, Mirakl has developed the Mirakl Catalog Platform (MCP). This powerful solution streamlines the entire process of product data collection and integration, ensuring faster onboarding and superior product data quality. The Mirakl Catalog Platform is the entry point for product data from suppliers, providing a seamless interface where suppliers can autonomously import their catalogs and map their data formats to align with your business requirements.

Within the Mirakl Catalog Platform, users can validate content, request supplier modifications, and leverage OpenAI to automatically enrich product details. Once validated, it effortlessly integrates product data into various internal systems, such as PIMs, MDMs, and ERPs, via its robust integration capabilities.

  • Additionally, Mirakl Catalog Platform helps: Distributors and wholesalers can easily set up data modeling rules, so that suppliers can autonomously input information that meets their taxonomy needs and quality standards.

  • Suppliers have multiple upload options like API, FTP, .xls, .XML, csv, or manual uploads, catering to varied supplier requirements at scale. MCP automatically maps native supplier format with the operator’s taxonomy.

  • Suppliers receive automatic alerts about missing data based on the business rules set by the wholesalers and distributors, minimizing the need for manual interactions and ensuring content completeness.

  • Upon receiving product data, wholesalers and distributors only need to approve it to trigger sending the content to their internal systems. They can also enrich the data using the built-in OpenAI capabilities of Mirakl and integrate other content syndication tools.

  • Operators can utilize the built-in messaging system for additional modifications and ongoing collaboration with suppliers, ensuring that product information is always current and relevant

Mirakl Catalog Platform enhances operational efficiency, improves data quality, and accelerates time-to-market for new SKUs. This allows businesses to focus their efforts on expanding and refining their product offerings, rather than managing supplier communications for data corrections. The Mirakl Catalog Platform is an ideal solution for eCommerce wholesale distributors, retailers, and GPOs with extensive supplier networks. 

Streamlined catalog management + marketplace strategy = one-stop shop experience for buyers

Choosing to integrate Mirakl MCP into a digital strategy is not merely about adopting a new tool. It’s about taking a faster, more efficient approach that enables wholesalers to launch and expand their eCommerce business efficiently. Meeting buyer expectations for comprehensive product information, competitive pricing, and assured availability is just the first step. 

The broader challenge that wholesalers face is meeting buyer expectations while mitigating inventory management costs, supplier coordination challenges, and the need for additional staffing. A growing number of distributors like Online Metals are responding to this challenge by integrating third-party sales into their eCommerce offerings through Mirakl Marketplace Platform. 

With a marketplace, inventory from third-party suppliers is used to diversify offerings and ensure the availability of essential items. Wholesalers aren’t responsible for inventory management, instead connecting suppliers (and their products) directly with buyers. Pairing Mirakl Marketplace Platform with Mirakl Catalog Platform makes this process seamless, empowering wholesalers to fortify product availability by onboarding new suppliers quickly and efficiently. 

Developing a future-proof B2B eCommerce strategy

Integrating Mirakl Catalog Platform and Mirakl Marketplace Platform into wholesale digital commerce businesses represents a pivotal shift towards more efficient, scalable, and buyer-centric operations for wholesalers. By addressing the critical pain points of supplier catalog management and eCommerce operations at scale, Mirakl not only facilitates growth but also ensures that businesses remain agile and responsive to market demands. 

Adopting the Mirakl suite is more than a technological upgrade—it represents a future where our prospects’ business is leading the way in digital commerce innovation.

Karthikeyan Jawahar,
Product Marketing Manager

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