Guiding customers from the initial search for information to the close, regardless of when and where they take each step in the purchase process – that is what a modern marketing strategy looks like.
The objective: Identifying and reaching out to potential customers via all touchpoints while gaining knowledge on their interests and behaviour.
The result: The focus is on the customer and the traditional communication and distribution channels are combined.
The tools: Multi-channel publishing and eCommerce. Both have long been integral components of modern marketing and sales strategies. However, their implementation requires a strong and upgradable system foundation for communication and distribution. Information being up-to-date and the time-to-market are critical success factors.
Lehner Versand AG, one of the biggest mail-order companies in Switzerland, relies on product information management (PIM) and digital asset management (DAM) to achieve this.
The starting point
Thousands of articles, several players, diverse workflows and different systems at different locations
Lehner Versand AG offers fashion, bedding and hardware at low prices. The product range comprises 15,000 products in various models, totalling around 40,000 individual articles. The retailer operates several stores, one online shop in German and one in French, and distributes around 20 printed catalogues, supplements and campaign flyers in large print runs in two language versions each year.
In order to supply the communication channels with information, the mail-order company has been relying on product information management since 2007. Various processes ensure that the information in the print and online material is up-to-date. To this end, some workflows run parallel to each other and are mutually dependent. One example is the local warehouse management at Lehner’s. It updates the article master data in the ERP system. At the same time, the product manager enriches this data. Meanwhile, the printed advertising materials are produced externally by KRT Media AG.
When no further updates to the old PIM solution were possible in 2014, the media service provider KRT was also commissioned with the evaluation of a new system. Both parties understood this as an opportunity to streamline workflows and consolidate processes.
PIM and DAM act as a foundation and hub for more efficient processes
KRT Media operates the digital asset management solution SixOMC and now supplies Lehner with the latest logos, product images, videos and other media using the new Lobster_pim PIM system. Meanwhile, the up-to-date master data from the ERP and the additional information from the product manager come together in the PIM as before.
The KRT media database and the PIM system at Lehner’s facilitate and guide these processes. Lobster_pim and SixOMC are the foundation for multi-channel publishing and eCommerce or database publishing, geared towards efficient advertising material production and profitable online retail.
«Thanks to the integration of Lobster_pim as a linchpin for controlling the online and print communication channels, we have an efficient tool for providing the very latest information with maximum availability. Centralised information and high online and print availability have become indispensable.»Thomas Meier, Managing Director, Lehner Versand AG
Database publishing at the mail-order company Lehner in action
Production of the printed products: As before, KRT produces the advertising materials. Using the InDesign plug-in priint:comet, the product information from Lobster_pim is automatically transferred to Adobe InDesign. If necessary, KRT develops the graphic design of the specific result in each case. The product data can be updated from the PIM at any time at a click of the mouse.
The integration of Lobster_pim and the priint:comet plug-in supports the creation of printed publications way beyond simple template-based output and reorganisation. Product sub-groups (e.g. by colours or sizes) are automatically bundled. Images, pictograms and brand logos are attached based on structure and PIM allocation. Pages from previous advertising materials can be incorporated and updated individually. The multilingual aspect is solved through separation into language layers.
Placement in the online shop: The latest data is issued to the online shop every night. Here, the data conversion and exchange tool Lobster_data is the interface from PIM to the online shop. This ensures that all information is transferred correctly – from structure to SEO.
The workflows must be identified, data distribution clarified and the required output forms defined
A data conversion solution is used in the PIM system due to the complexity of the data. This highlights one of the key challenges in such projects: great data volume, variation in the data resources and diversity of the necessary output forms.
For Lehner, these three factors are linked – as the ‘simple’ example of a pair of trousers shows: Lehner offers men’s, women’s and children’s trousers in various sizes, colours, materials, price categories and quantities. The product information quality and clarity about the format and presentation required for each channel are crucial. These are some of the true challenges including the most stumbling blocks for such projects.
An overview of the internal organisation of the company and its workflows, as well as a clear presentation of the product range or the individual products and the required data, plus the data formats for each type of advertising material are necessary.
Such an analysis creates the opportunity to minimise obsolescence while also challenging you to clarify what is needed when, how, by whom, for what, in which form and where. In which structures is the data needed in catalogue production and the online shop? In what form is the master data available? What is the easiest way to consolidate them? How can information be allocated for SEO?
Carrying out the process conscientiously and finding the right answers to fundamental questions is time-consuming and hard work. The reward is realised in the long-term. Processes, workflows and responsibilities are clear and the systems run smoothly. An upgradable and future-proof foundation is in place. Lehner AG now generates around 43% of its orders via the online shops.
Multi-channel marketing and eCommerce must be supported by the company management and anchored in the strategy
Successful eCommerce is already an integral component of future-oriented business models. Thus, they must be positioned as a strategic high priority.