Category Archives: Retail

5 Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing

print publishing

Product Information Management Facilitates Catalog Print Publishing

In his recent article: “The catalog is dead – long live the catalog,” Informatica’s Ben Rund spoke about how printed catalogs are positioned as a piece of the omnichannel puzzle and are a valuable touch point on the connected customer’s informed purchase journey. The overall response was far greater than what we could have hoped for; we would like to thank all those that participated. Seeing how much interest this topic generated, we decided to investigate further, in order to find out which factors can help in making print publishing successful.

5 key Factors for Successful Print Publishing Projects

Today’s digital world impacts every facet of our lives. Deloitte recently reported that approximately 50% of purchases are influenced by our digital environment. Often, companies have no idea how much savings can be generated through the production of printed catalogues that leverage pre-existing data sources. The research at www.pim-roi.com talks of several such examples. After looking back at many successful projects, Michael and his team realized the potential to generate substantial savings when the focus is to
optimize “time to market.” (If, of course, business teams operate asynchronously!)

For this new blog entry, we interviewed Michael Giesen, IT Consultancy and Project Management at Laudert to get his thoughts and opinion on the key factors behind the success of print publishing projects. We asked Michael to share his experience and thoughts on the leading factors in running successful print publishing projects. Furthermore, Michael also provides insight on which steps to prioritize and which pitfalls to avoid at all costs, in order to ensure the best results.

1. Publication Analysis

How are objects in print (like products) structured today? What about individual topics and design of creative pages? How is the placement of tables, headings, prices and images organized nowadays? Are there standards? If so, what can be standardized and how? To get an overall picture, you have to thoroughly examine these points. You must do so for all the content elements involved in the layout, ensuring that, in the future, they can be used for Dynamic Publishing. It is conceivable that individual elements, such as titles or pages used in subject areas, could be excluded and reused in separate projects. Gaining the ability to automate catalog creation potentially requires to compromise in certain areas. We shall discuss this later. In the future, product information will probably be presented with very little need to apply changes, 4 instead of 24 table types, for example. Great, now we are on the right path!

2. Data Source Analysis

Where is the data used in today’s printed material being sourced from? If possible or needed, are there several data sources that require to be combined? How is pricing handled? What about product attributes or the structure of product description tables in the case of an individual item? Is all the marketing content and subsequent variations included as well? What about numerous product images or multiple languages? What about seasonally adjusted texts that pull from external sources?

This case requires a very detailed analysis, leading us to the following question:

What is the role and the value of storing product information using a standardized method in print publishing?

The benefits of utilizing such processes should be clear by now: The more standards are in place, the greater the amount of time you will save and the greater your ability to generate positive ROI. Companies that currently operate with complex systems supporting well-structured data are already ahead in the game. Furthermore, yielding positive results doesn’t necessarily require them to start from scratch and rebuild from the ground up. As a matter of fact, companies that have already invested in database systems (E.g. MSSQL) can leverage their existing infrastructures.

3. Process Analysis

In this section of our analysis, we will be getting right down to the details: What does the production process look like, from the initial layout phase to the final release process? Who is responsible for the “how? Who maintains the linear progression? Who has the responsibilities and release rights? Lastly, where are the bottlenecks? Are there safeguards mechanisms in place? Once all these roles and processes have been put in place and have received the right resources we can advance to the next step of our analysis. You are ready to tackle the next key factor: Implementation.

4. Implementation

Here you should be adventurous, creative and open minded, seeing that compromise might be needed. If your existing data sources do not meet the requirements, a solution must be found! A certain technical creative pragmatism may facilitate the short and medium planning (see point 2). You must extract and prepare your data sources for printed medium, such as a catalog, for example. The priint:suite of WERK II has proven itself as a robust all-round solution for Database Publishing and Web2Print. All-inclusive PIM solutions, such as Informatica PIM, already has a standard interface to priint:suite available. Depending on the specific requirements, an important decision must then be made: Is there a need for an InDesign Server? Simply put, it enables the fully automatic production of large-volume objects and offers accurate data preview. While slightly less featured, the use of WERK II PDF renderers offers similar functionalities but at a significantly more affordable price.

Based on the software and interfaces selected, an optimized process which supports your system can be developed and be structured to be fully automated if needed.
For individual groups of goods, templates can be defined, placeholders and page layouts developed. Production can start!

5. Selecting an Implementation Partner

In order to facilitate a smooth transition from day one, the support of a partner to carry out the implementation should be considered from the beginning. Since not only technology, but more importantly practical expertise provides maximum process efficiency, it is recommended that you inquire about a potential partner’s references. Getting insight from existing customers will provide you with feedback about their experience and successes. Any potential partner will be pleased to put you in touch with their existing customers.

What are Your Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing?

I would like to know what your thoughts are on this topic. Has anyone tried PDF renderers other than WERK II, such as Codeware’s XActuell? Furthermore, if there are any other factors you think are important in managing successful print publishing, feel free to mention them in the comments here. I’d be happy to discuss here or on twitter at @nicholasgoupil.

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Gimme Hope eCommerce for Southern Europe

With projected online sales of €47.8 billion for 2014 and an average annual growth rate of 22% since 2010, the e-commerce market is a beam of hope for the crisis-struck Southern European region on its path out of the recession. Goods and services sold online in Southern Europe in 2013 amounted to a total value of €40.8 billion, making up more than 11% of the total online sales in Europe. The region, consists of Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Cyprus and Malta.

This is all revealed by the latest Southern Europe B2C E-Commerce Report by Ecommerce Europe, the European umbrella organization for 25,000+ companies that sell products and/or services online to consumers. Figures in the Ecommerce Europe reports are based on the Global Online Measurement Standard for E-commerce (GOMSEC).

Here are some facts on ecommerce in Southern Europe, I find worth mention

  • 48 million online shoppers: Southern Europe is fertile ground for online retail activities; of 125 million active Internet users, 48 million are buying goods or products online.
  • Spain leads the region: With total e-commerce sales of €14.4 billion, Spain is leading the Southern European region, ahead of Italy (€11.2 billion) and Turkey (€8.9 billion).
  • Greek e-shoppers spent most in 2013: On average, Southern European online shoppers spent €842 per person in 2013. This amount is significantly less than the EU28 average of €1,500 and the European average of €1,376.

You can download the full Southern Europe B2C E-Commerce Report by Ecommerce Europe here.

infographic southern europe ecommerce 2014

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Proximity Marketing: The New Way to Attract Busy Shoppers

Proximity MarketingImagine walking through a mall during your weekend shopping binge.

Your arms are full of shopping bags, and you believe you’ve had your fill of purchases for the day. You even have the discipline to walk past the obligatory little bakery stand that haunts every mall with its alluring aroma.

Suddenly you feel a vibration in your pocket and set your bags down to grab it. It’s your mobile phone, and it has a special message for you.

“Julie’s Bakery Special! Buy one cinnamon bun, get one free!”

If the irresistible aroma didn’t lure you toward the baked goods, this amazing deal will.

That is the power of proximity marketing.

Proximity marketing uses Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology to send commercial messages to nearby shoppers who may be carrying mobile devices. It’s a safe bet that most of those shoppers will own a mobile phone. According to Pew Research, 90% of adults in America have cell phones (58% of which are smartphones).

This method of reaching customers is known as beacon technology.

A device is attached within the shop, store, stand, etc., and sends signals to people as they pass. One of the creative ways I’ve heard this used was by display manufacturer Universal Display in their London locations. They placed beacons on their mannequins. When customers went within proximity to them, they were given information on the mannequin’s fashionable attire via their own mobile devices.

Why does proximity marketing work?

  • Customers prefer to be informed shoppers. They want to know where the deals are. They’re already out-and-about, so it’s helpful and engaging to be updated to their surroundings.
  • The receiver is more likely to engage with the advertisement they receive. It’s simple to see why, if you imagine this scenario:

What if a shopper is bored waiting in a long line when he or she receives the message? There’s a good chance he or she is idly using a mobile phone for entertainment while waiting in line. This is the perfect time to provide a timely, relevant message that will get a lot of attention.

SMS mobile messaging is a powerful customer communication tool for the same reasons companies now believe in proximity marketing.

The quickest and most efficient way to reach customers is through their phones. Proximity advertising spending will reach $6 billion by 2015, reports MarketingProfs. The time for your business to go mobile is now. Read more about SMS mobile marketing from StrikeIron, an Informatica Company, here.

Photo credit: Nan Palmero

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Ecommerce Sales in Western Europe to Grow by 15% in 2014

The Western European B2C ecommerce market is developing extremely well. In fact, the Western European ecommerce market is expected to reach € 204.7 billion in 2014.

Online Sales to Reach €204.7 Billion in 2014

Just like the year before, the Western European region, comprising Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, was in first position with regard to e-commerce size in 2013, with a European market share of 49%.

The total B2C e-commerce economy of Western Europe amounted €177.7 billion, a 12% growth compared to 2012. Online sales of goods and services are forecast to reach €204.7 billion in 2014, a growth of more than 15% in comparison with 2013. Ecommerce Europe’s research also reveals that 95 million consumers in Western Europe bought goods and services online in 2013.

Average Western European E-shopper Spent €1,867 Online in 2013

On average, Western European e-shoppers spent €1,867 per person online in 2013. This is far above the European average of €1,376 and EU28 average of €1,500. The United Kingdom leads the way with €2,614, making their e-shoppers the biggest online spenders in Europe. Within Western Europe, Ireland, Luxembourg and France follow with €1,643, €1,533 and €1,503, respectively, per online shopper.

western europe ecommerce 2014

For additional information, you can download the full report here.

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Northern European E-Commerce Market To Reach €36.8 Billion in 2014

Ecommerce Europe just reported that Northern European B2C e-commerce is developing extremely well. This is apparent from the new Northern Europe B2C E-commerce Report.

Ecommerce Europe, the European umbrella organization for 25,000+ companies selling products and/or services online to consumers and collaborating with the regional associations. The total Northern European e-commerce economy of goods and services sold online amounted to €33.2 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow to €36.8 billion in 2014.

Online sales expected to reach €36.8 billion in 2014

The Northern European region, including Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway, is now in fourth position with regard to e-commerce size, with a 9.1% European market share. In 2013, the total B2C e-commerce economy of Northern Europe amounted to €33.2 billion, a 13.7% growth compared to the preceding year. Online sales of goods and services are forecast to reach €36.8 billion in 2013, which represents a growth of 10.7% in comparison with last year.

The average consumer spends more than 1700 euro online

nordics ecommerce spend

If you are intersted in learning more details and figures on growth, marketsize on country level for Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia and Lithuania, you can download the full B2C Ecommerce Report for Northern here.

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The Case for Smart Data: When Big Data Isn’t Enough

Every two years, the typical company doubles the amount of data they store. However, this Data is inherently “dumb.” Acquiring more of it only seems to compound its lack of intellect.

When revitalizing your business, I won’t ask to look at your data – not even a little bit. Instead, we look at the process of how you use the data. What I want to know is this:

How much of your day-to-day operations are driven by your data?

The Case for Smart Data

I recently learned that 7-Eleven Japan has pushed decision-making down to the store level – in fact, to the level of clerks. Store clerks decide what goes on the shelves in their individual 7-Eleven stores. These clerks push incredible inventory turns. Some 70% of the products on the shelves are new to stores each year. As a result, this chain has been the most profitable Japanese retailer for 30 years running.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Instead of just reading the data and making wild guesses on why something works and why something doesn’t, these clerks acquired the skill of looking at the quantitative and the qualitative and connected dots. Data told them what people are talking about, how it’s related to their product and how much weight it carried. You can achieve this as well. To do so, you must introduce a culture that emphasizes discipline around processes. A disciplined process culture uses:

  1. A template approach to data with common processes, reuse of components, and a single face presented to customers
  2. Employees who consistently follow standard procedures

If you cannot develop such company-wide consistency, you will not gain benefits of ERP or CRM systems.

Make data available to the masses. Like at 7-Eleven Japan, don’t centralize the data decision-making process. Instead, push it out to the ranks. By putting these cultures and practices into play, businesses can use data to run smarter.

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Posted in Big Data, Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, Data Synchronization, Data Transformation, Data Warehousing, Master Data Management, Retail | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gambling With Your Customer’s Financial Data

CIOs and CFOs both dig data security

Financial dataIn my discussions with CIOs over the last couple of months, I asked them about the importance of a series of topics. All of them placed data security at the top of their IT priority list. Even their CFO counterparts, with whom they do not always see eye to eye, said they were very concerned about the business risk for corporate data. These CFOs said that they touch, as a part of owning business risk, security — especially from hacking. One CFO said that he worried, as well, about the impact of data security for compliance issues, including HIPAA and SOX. Another said this: “The security of data is becoming more and more important. The auditors are going after this. CFOs, for this reason, are really worried about getting hacked. This is a whole new direction, but some of the highly publicized recent hacks have scared a lot of folks and they combined represent to many of us a watershed event.”

Editor of CFO Magazine

According to David W. Owens the editor of CFO Magazine, even if you are using “secure” storage, such as internal drives and private clouds, the access to these areas can be anything but secure. Practically any employee can be carrying around sensitive financial and performance data in his or her pocket, at any time.” Obviously, new forms of data access have created new forms of data risk.

Are some retailers really leaving the keys in the ignition?

If I only hadGiven the like mind set from CIOs and CFOs, I was shocked to learn that some of the recently hacked retailers had been using outdated security software, which may have given hackers easier access company payment data systems. Most amazingly, some retailers had not even encrypted their customer payment data. Because of this, hackers were able to hide on the network for months and steal payment data, as customers continued to use their credit cards at the company’s point of sale locations.

Why weren’t these transactions encrypted or masked? In my 1998 financial information start-up, we encrypted our databases to protect against hacks of our customers’ personal financial data. One answer came from a discussion with a Fortune 100 Insurance CIO. This CIO said “CIO’s/CTO’s/CISO’s struggle with selling the value of these investment because the C Suite is only interested in hearing about investments with a direct impact on business outcomes and benefits”.

Enterprise security drives enterprise brand today

Brand ValueSo how should leaders better argue the business case for security investments? I want to suggest that the value of IT is its “brand promise”. For retailers, in particular, if a past purchase decision creates a perceived personal data security risk, IT becomes a liability to their corporations brand equity and potentially creates a negative impact on future sales. Increasingly how these factors are managed either supports or not the value of a company’s brand.

My message is this: Spend whatever it takes to protect your brand equity; Otherwise a security issue will become a revenue issue.

In sum, this means organizations that want to differentiate themselves and avoid becoming a brand liability need to further invest in their data centric security strategy and of course, encryption. The game is no longer just about securing particular applications. IT organizations need to take a data centric approach to securing customer data and other types of enterprise data. Enterprise level data governance rules needs to be a requirement. A data centric approach can mitigate business risk by helping organizations to understand where sensitive data is and to protect it in motion and at rest. 

Related links

Solutions: Enterprise Level Data Security
The State of Data Centric Security
How Is The CIO Role Starting To Change?
The CFO viewpoint on data
CFOs discuss their technology priorities
Twitter: @MylesSuer

 

 

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Brandspiration – The Story of the Gap Stick and an Award Winner

This is the story about a great speaker, a simple but funny product and the idea of a Ventana Award winning company which does “Brandspiration”.

When I invited Dale Denham, CIO from Geiger to speak on his at Informatica World this year, I was not sure what I will get. I only knew that Dale is known as an entertaining speaker. What could we expect from a person who, calls himself “the selling CIO”?

And Dale delivered. He opened his session “How product information in ecommerce improved Geiger’s ability to promote and sell promotional products” with a video.

What I liked about it was: It is a simple product, addressing a everyday problem, everybody knows. And this is the business of Geiger & Crestline, two brands in one company which sell promotional products to help companies inspire with their brand. They call is “Brandspiration”.

What this has to do with PIM?

Well the business need for Geiger was to sell 100,000s of products more efficient. Which includes update products faster and more accurately and add more products. But also Geiger was planning to

  • Eliminate reliance on ERP
  • Launch new web properties
  • Improve SEO
  • Centralize product management & control
  • Standardize business processes & workflows
  • Produce print catalog more faster

Before working with Informatica PIM it took a week to launch a new product. And Geiger/ Crestline has a complex price management for bundles, brands, packages and more under their two own brands for two different target groups: low price products with aggressive pricing and more high quality promotional products.

Business Outcomes

With PIM the product entry time could be reduced by about an hour. Geiger achieved 25% time saving for catalog creation and implemented PIM in about six months. (btw with the integrator “Ideosity“.) Another fact which made me proud on our offering was, that Dale told me his company was able to upgrade on the latest PIM version within hours.

“PIM has allowed us to be more proactive Instead of being handcuffed to a system that made us reactive. A great invest for this company. I can’t believe we survived for as long as we did without this software.” 
Dale Denham, CIO

Whatch the video of Dale and how his company Geiger realizes Brandspiration with Informatica PIM. Did you know, Geiger is a proud winner of the Ventana Research Innovation Award for their PIM initiative?

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We Are Sports – SportScheck Omnichannel Retail

Are you a manager dedicated to fashion, B2C or retail? This blog provides an overview what companies can learn on omnichannel from SportScheck.

SportScheck is one of Germany’s most successful multichannel businesses. SportScheck (btw Ventana Research Innovation Award Winner) is an equipment and clothing specialist for almost every sport and its website gets over 52 million hits per year, making it one of the most successful online stores in Germany.

Each year, more than million customers sign up for the mail-order business while over 17 million customers visit its brick and mortar stores (Source). These figures undoubtedly describe the success of SportScheck’s multichannel strategy. SportScheck also strives to deliver innovative concepts in all of its sales channels, while always aiming to provide customers with the best shopping experience possible. This philosophy can be carried out only in conjunction with modern systems landscapes and optimized processes.

Complete, reliable, and attractive information – across every channel – is the key to a great customer experience and better sales. It’s hard to keep up with customer demands in a single channel, much less multiple channels. Download The Informed Purchase Journey. The Informed Purchase Journey requires the right product, to right customer at the right place. Enjoy the video!

What is the Business Initiative in SportScheck

  • Providing the customer the same deals across all sales channels with a centralized location for all product information
  • Improve customer service in all sales channels with perfect product data
  • Make sure customers have enough product information to make a purchase without the order being returned

Intelligent and Agile Processes are Key to Success

“Good customer service, whether online, in-store, or in print, needs perfect product data” said Alexander Pischetsrieder in an interview. At the Munich-based sporting goods retailer, there had been no centralized system for product data before now. After extensive research and evaluation, the company decided to implement the product information management (PIM) system from Informatica.

The main reason for the introduction of Informatica Product Information Management (PIM) solutions was its support for a true multichannel strategy. Customers should have access to the same deals across all sales channels. In addition to making a breadth of information available, customer service still remains key.

In times where information is THE killer app, key challenges are, keeping information up to date and ensuring efficient processes. In a retail scenario, product catalog onboarding starts with PIM to get the latest product information. A dataset in the relevant systems that is always up-to-date is a further basis, which allows companies to react immediately to market movements and implement marketing requirements as quickly as possible. Data must be exchanged between the systems practically in real time. If you want to learn more details, how SportScheck solved the technical integration between SAP ERP and Informatica PIM

Product Data Equals Demonstrated Expertise

“I am convinced that a well-presented product with lots of pictures and details sells better. For us, this signals knowing our product. That sets us apart from the large discount stores,” notes Alexander Pischetsrieder. “In the end, we have to ask: who is the customer going to trust? We gain trust here with our product knowledge and our love of sports in general.” Just like our motto says, “We get our fans excited.” By offering a professional search engine, product comparisons, and many other features, 
PIM adds value not only in ecommerce – and that gets us excited!”

Benefits for SportScheck

  • Centralized location for all product information across all sales channels
  • An agile system that is capable of interweaving the different retail processes across sales channels into a smooth, cross-channel function
  • Self-Service portal for agencies and suppliers with direct upload to the PIM system

For German readers I can highly recommend this video on the customer use case. If you are interested in more details, ask me on Twitter @benrund.

PS: This blog is based on the PIM case study on SportScheck.

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The Catalog is Dead – Long Live the Catalog?

The Catalog is Dead.

Print solution provider Werk II came up with a provocative marketing campaign in 2012. Their ads have been designed like the obituary notice for the “Main Catalog” which is “no longer with us”…

According to the Multi Channel Merchant Outlook 2014 survey, the eCommerce website (not a surprise ;-) ) is the top channel through which merchants market (90%). The social media (87.2%) and email (83%) channels follow close behind. Although catalogs may have dropped as a marketing tool, 51.7% of retailers said they still use the catalog to market their brands.

importance of channels chart

Source: MCM Outlook 2014

The Changing Role of the Catalog

Merchants are still using catalogs to sell products. However, their role has changed from transactional to sales tool. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important, merchant respondents said that using catalogs as mobile traffic drivers and custom retention tools were the most important activities (both scored an 8.25). At 7.85, web traffic driver was a close third.

methods of prospecting chart

Source: MCM Outlook 2014

Long Live the Catalog: Prospecting 

More than three-quarters of merchant respondents said catalogs were the top choice for the method of prospecting they will use in the next 12 months (77.7%). Catalog was the most popular answer, followed by Facebook (68%), email (66%), Twitter (42.7%) and Pinterest (40.8%).

What is your point of view?

How have catalogs changed in your business? What are your plans and outlook for 2015? It would be very interesting to hear points of views from different industries and countries… I’d be happy to discuss here or on Twitter @benrund. My favorite fashion retailer keeps sending me a stylish catalog, which makes me order online. Brands, retailer, consumer – how do you act, what do you expect?

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Posted in B2B, Manufacturing, Master Data Management, PiM, Product Information Management, Retail, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment