FAQ for Online Digital Parts Catalogs and Configurators

Online Digital Parts Catalogs and Configurators are vital components of the overall Marketing Solution for industrial component manufacturers and distributors. The following are frequently asked questions (FAQ) - please browse the list.

Q. What is the CDS Catalog as a Service?

Q. Where can I see a demo?

Q. What does the CDS Catalog as a Service cost?

Q. What features does the CDS Catalog as a Service Support?

Q. How can I get support?

Q. Where can I host the CDS Catalog as a Service?

Q. Where can I see examples of live stores?

Q. What is faceted search?

Q. What is a Web Service?

Q. Why use a Catalog rather than just build individual web pages for each product?

Q. How do Catalogs increase sales for industrial suppliers?

Q. How do I know if adding product CAD Models to my website will help my marketing?

Q. My parts are all custom, would CAD models work for me?

Q. What’s really important in an Industrial Supplier Catalog?

Q. How do Digital Parts Catalogs and CAD Downloads work with my distributors?

Q. Should my website be educational or generate business or both?

Q. My customers seem satisfied with sending emails and making phone calls rather than using my website. How do I know I wouldn’t be wasting money on the web, if my customers are not inclined in that way?

Q. We work in house to maintain complete control over our website. Would outsourcing require giving up control over my website

Q. Will adding a CDS SaaS solution Catalog as a Service conflict with my web development company?

Q. How do design engineers find my website, my digital parts catalog, and CAD models of my parts?

Q. How likely is it an engineer will purchase my product after downloading a CAD model or drawing file?

Q. If I depend on CDS SaaS what uptime service levels will I have?

Q. What is the CDS Catalog as a Service?

A. CDS Catalog as a Service is a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution. It is specifically designed for Industrial B2B ecommerce and is well proven through years of use by many industrial suppliers (manufacturers and distributors). It improves Search Engine Optimization (SEO), enables faceted and other product search options on your website. It includes all the functionality listed here [link to functionality page].

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Q. Where can I see a demo?

A. The easiest way is online from your desk via a web meeting and phone call. To arrange a demo at your convenience please call us or click on the button below.

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Q. What does the CDS Catalog as a Service cost?

A. There is typically a one-time implementation fee tor setup the online catalog for your products and thereafter a monthly SaaS subscription fee for the ongoing hosting service. No new software to buy, no new hardware servers to run, no ongoing IT costs make SaaS solutions inexpensive compared to traditional perpetual license software. This is one reason they have become so popular in recent years but another reason is the low capital cost and hence lower risk associated with SaaS solutions. Both the setup fee and the subscription fee are proportional to the number and sophistication of your products since that determines how much work is involved in setting up and then running your catalog. In addition whether you need CAD models built or adapted or both influences the setup fee. Therefore it's impossible to give pricing without understanding and quoting for your specific circumstances so please discuss them with us and we'll provide an estimate.

What we can say is that 98% of CDS customers have continued to subscribe since the launch of their solutions - a statistic that demonstrates the typically high and ongoing ROI achieved.

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Q. What features does the CDS Catalog as a Service Support?

A. CDS Catalog as a Service includes all the functionality listed here [link to functionality page].

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Q. How can I get support?

A. Online and phone support is provided by CDS technical specialists located in our Utah office 8AM MT to 4PM MT.

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Q. Where can I host the CDS Catalog as a Service?

A: CDS provides SaaS solutions, similar to Salesforce.com or Workday.com. This means that you don't need to purchase software licenses, software maintenance or hardware, you just need to subscribe to the service. As such SaaS is usually less expensive than licensed software - certainly from a CAPital EXpenditure (CAPEX) point of view as large up front costs are replaced by monthly subscriptions. CDS solutions run on highly scalable (no issues as your traffic builds), low latency(fast page loading worldwide) and extremely reliable (high availability) high speed data centers and are able to communicate with your existing and future enterprise and legacy software solutions. For example you may run your website or ERP or CRM on in-house systems and the CDS Catalog as a Service will need to seamlessly interact with your website to provide a great user experience and perhaps access your ERP system for product pricing and your CRM system to pass over new B2B sales leads.

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Q.Where can I see examples of live stores?

A. AS Raymond, UC Components, GAM,

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Q. What is faceted search?

A. The Wikipedia definition is; Faceted search, also called faceted navigation or faceted browsing, is a technique for accessing information organized according to a faceted classification system, allowing users to explore a collection of information by applying multiple filters. A faceted classification system classifies each information element along multiple explicit dimensions, called facets, enabling the classifications to be accessed and ordered in multiple ways rather than in a single, pre-determined, taxonomic order.

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Q. What is a Web Service?

A. As Wikipedia explains, web services enable organizations to use multiple software systems for management and when these different software systems need to exchange data with each other, web services provide a method of communication that allows them to exchange this data over the internet.

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Q. Why use the CDS Catalog rather than just build individual web pages for each product in my Content Management System (CMS)?

A. Before your products can be purchased they need to spec'd or designed in. Before they can be spec'd or designed in they need to be found. Today, industrial designers like the rest of us mostly search online for what they need. To be found you rank high in search engine results. Achieving that is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short.

Good SEO means understanding how potential customers search, what keywords they use and ensuring your product pages are presented to them by search engines. That includes 'long tail' searches such as 'roller bearing ID=2" OD=3" stainless steel, twin seals'. That means a page for every product including for every variation (dimensional or otherwise) of every product Based on CDS's experience a software generated online catalog like CDS Catalog is easily cost effective when you need more than 50 product pages. Below 50 pages it can often be less expensive to build and maintain HTML pages manually in the CMS, beyond 50 individual product pages (which may be 50 different sizes of the same product because you want SEO on each size) it becomes more cost effective to use the CDS Catalog Solution.

There are many other benefits to be gained from using an online catalog solution over using a CMS to build and maintain your web pages - you can review these on the CDS Catalog pages. If you adopt a catalog product we realize that you must continue to use your CMS to manage the non-catalog pages of your website - CDS Catalog integrates with popular CMS systems (including Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, HubSpot, etc.)

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Q. How do Catalogs increase sales for industrial suppliers?

A. By better meeting the needs of Design Engineer that specify and buy their products. Here are 4 steps showing how an online digital parts catalog should be integrated into an industrial suppliers overall marketing:

Step 1: Offer an Interactive Website that converts visitors to customers & supports mobile devices

Step 2: Get your products found online via a search engine optimized (SEO) online digital parts catalog that makes it easy to quickly find the right part for new designs

Step 3: Ensure your products are 'designed in'

When a CAD model is downloaded, how often is the physical part purchased?

Step 4: Enable your products to be purchased online

  • eCommerce to enable online RFQs, ordering, stock availability, order tracking

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Q. How do I know if adding product CAD Models to my website will help my marketing?

A. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have your customers asked for CAD models or drawings of your products?
  • If so how do you meet that need today and what does it cost?
  • Do any of your competitors offer online CAD models of drawings of their products?
  • If so what has been the customer reaction - is it a competitive advantage over your company?

Q. My parts are all custom, would CAD models work for me?

A. Yes, they probably would, particularly if your custom parts are configurable. For customers with relatively simple configurable parts, we offer the CDS Catalog and for customers with highly sophisticated configurable parts we offer the CDS Configurator. Importance of CAD download models to designers?Both are specifically designed for Industrial Suppliers' websites and both seamlessly integrate with CDS ModelServer to present CAD model viewing and downloads for any configured part. The CDS Configurator lets you quickly design and quote your custom products online. Sales Proposals, BOMs, Routes, 3D CAD Models & 2D Drawings, and more can be instantly generated. CDS Configurator enables you to automate the engineering decisions required to configure your custom products and accelerate sales. The CDS Configurator ensures accuracy, eliminates data-entry errors and often frees up product experts from answering repetitive product questions during the sales quoting cycle.

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Q. What’s really important in an Industrial Supplier Catalog?

A. There are several facets to this answer to ensure your products get found, selected and purchased in a comprehensive B2B marketing and sales strategy:

  • Firstly that it is an online digital parts catalog - sometimes also called an electronic catalog or ecatalog. Paper catalogs have largely disappeared because they go out-of-date soon after printing and cost a great deal to print and distribute. Online digital catalogs can be maintained up-to-date continuously and are suitable as an integrated component of an industrial supplier's overall marketing, sales and operations. The digital parts catalog should be integrated with your website, SEO, any configurators, any CAD downloads (to obtain B2B sales leads and transfer them into your CRM system), eCommerce (guided selling, quote to order, shopping cart or RFQ) systems (to place orders into the ERP and manufacturing systems). Ensure that you select a catalog that is SEO optimized to ensure that it helps your products to be found in online searches.
  • Secondly your online catalog must provide simple, highly intuitive and easy to use search to enable you visitors, once they reach your website, to quickly find the part they need. That search should be available as text (engineering specification) or graphically or as faceted search capabilities.
  • Once the right part is found all the detailed specifications are on a printable part detail page, which also includes, a downloadable CAD model of the part in various CAD formats.
  • eCommerce capability to provide online ordering or RFQs.

The result is B2B lead generation (visitor to lead conversion) for possible sales followup and likely automated 'designing in' of your parts to customers' new CAD designs.

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Q. How do Digital Parts Catalogs and CAD Downloads work with my distributors?

A. Similarly to how you've always worked with your distributors only better. If you have generated sales leads and passed them to your distributors by geography or product line you can still do that but the leads will be better qualified, lower cost/lead and likely more valuable. In addition you CAD models can be syndicated to your distributors websites, as you and they choose. CDS can enable the download of your CAD models from your distributors websites - the CDS SaaS solutions (Catalog as a Service™, CAD as a Service™) work equally well as software for industrial distributors or for manufacturers.

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Q. Should my website be educational or generate business or both?

A. Ideally both, but it can be staged. Start educationally to help your customers by getting your products found easily with an SEO optimized Catalog and if applicable Configurator. Present educational information on your products perhaps including downloadable CAD models of your parts as a demand generation strategy (get your products 'designed in'). If not immediately then later add B2B lead generation (for example with registration prior to CAD model downloads) then ecommerce, perhaps with RFPs initially then later an online store.

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Q. My customers seem satisfied with sending emails and making phone calls rather than using my website. How do I know I wouldn’t be wasting money on the web, if my customers are not inclined in that way?

A. Researching and ordering online is the way of the future and it is incumbent on suppliers to ensure their websites are meeting the needs of their customers particularly as search and buying expectations have been raised for everyone by sites like Google and Amazon. More and more, engineers are checking an Industrial manufacturer's website before ever making a phone call or sending an email. You never know what potential customers could be bypassing your site, for a more informative, easy to use site. In addition consider the burden on your own design engineers being interupted to generate and send a CAD model in response to user requests - how much design time and productivity can you save by automating this task?

You can watch a 3 minute customer compilation video below to hear about others success with this approach.

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Q. We work in house to maintain complete control over our website. Would outsourcing require giving up control over my website?

A. CDS SaaS solution integrates with your existing solutions. CDS continuously works with internal teams augmenting their technical and business solutions with our own specialized capabilities - Catalog as a Service, CAD as a Service, and configurators. CDS software solutions are 4th generation software. In our three specialist areas we offer less expensive, more effective and industrially proven solutions than internal teams can generally produce

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Q. Will adding a CDS SaaS solution Catalog as a Service conflict with my web development company?

A. Definitely not, CDS works in combination with internal and external web development teams augmenting their technical and business solutions with our own specialized capabilities - Catalog as a Service, CAD as a Service, and configurators.

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Q. How do design engineers find my website, my digital parts catalog, and CAD models of my parts?

A. Some will go directly to your website but most will find your website using a search engines. But don't just think Google, Yahoo or Bing, if you have CAD models syndicated on CAD model specific search engines like 3DModelSpace.com then you can also generate significant amounts of traffic from them.

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Q. How likely is it an engineer will purchase my product after downloading a CAD model or drawing file? When a CAD model is downloaded, how often is the physical part purchased?

A. The answers of many users and the weighted average from our 2014 survey is 50% of the time (shown in the graph). According to the JW Winco case study they achieve almost 50% too. For all types of content marketing we do not know of another type of downloadable content that converts to sales at any where near this high a ratio. Therefore CAD downloads may be the best type of content an industrial supplier can offer on their website.

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Q. If I depend on CDS SaaS what uptime service levels will I have?

A. Our goal is 100% up-time but three variables mean we are actually achieving ~99.9%. Firstly, CDS uses Amazon AWS for hosting our SaaS solutions. Secondly, on rare occasions we must take solutions offline for maintenance. Thirdly, an unexpected problem might occur that would take CDS Solutions offline. We work hard to limit these interruptions.

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What we can say is that 98% of CDS customers have continued to subscribe since the launch of their solutions - a statistic that demonstates the typically high and ongoing reliability and ROI achieved.

If you want more detail on an answer or if you didn't find your question above, contact us today and we would be happy to help!