Print is Dead! Long Live Print!

Consumers increasingly prefer to shop online. We all know it.

  • Online product information is easier to keep up to date.
  • Ecommerce experiences are more customizable.

According to the Data Marketing Association, the number of catalogs mailed in the United States recently fell to 9.8 billion in 2016—which is down considerably from the peak mailing of 19.6 billion in 2007.

Print is dead. Except it isn’t.

Print is a major driver of both online and offline sales.

Many online and in-store purchases are inspired by seeing items in a catalog. While websites excel at focused searches, print catalogs more readily lend themselves to product discovery and casual browsing. In short, print catalogs continue to be an important element of any omni-channel strategy.

According to Kurt Salmon, Lands’ End eventually presented a pop-up survey to customers placing orders on its site asking if they had first looked at the catalog, and 75% of them said “Yes.”

Print catalogs outperform website traffic in many areas:

  • Higher average order size
  • More frequent orders
  • Better customer retention rates

Print is still a massively powerful channel for many retailers and manufacturers. Print is responsible for significant increases in direct marginal revenue and is a key brand driver.

Print is awesome. If only it didn’t have to be so expensive.

Of course, everyone knows that while the returns on catalog production can be great, there is a huge cost and hassle factor associated with their production.

Today, we’ll focus on how companies can centralize and utilize their product information across print, web, and other channels using Akeneo and Pim2catalog.

Pim2catalog is a connector for Akeneo and InDesign built by long-time Akeneo partner Naolis. It allows small and medium sized companies to easily and quickly build customized print catalogs using the product information contained within Akeneo PIM.

How does it work?

  1. Pim2catalog allows merchandisers to work within Akeneo to develop their catalog merchandising plan using product descriptions already available from within Akeneo. Merchandisers utilize generic labels to develop their catalog strategy without having to worry about design details.
  2. Akeneo then outputs a standard InDesign file with the products based upon an unlimited number of totally customizable design templates (if you can do it in InDesign, you can use it as a template).
  3. The design team can then manipulate the file and tweak the design just like they would any other InDesign file.
  4. If any changes are made to the product catalog during this process (and there usually tons of them!), these changes automatically flow into the InDesign document—seamlessly ensuring that the product specifics are accurate as-of the day of printing.
  5. The merchandiser can then quickly and easily output specialty catalogs aimed at specific target markets with high frequency. The template allows for easy insertion and support of holiday or other moods and themes. The copy and design can be as elaborate and customized as the team chooses.

The merchandiser can then quickly and easily output specialty catalogs aimed at specific target markets with high frequency.

Akeneo PIM Summit 2018 : How to add print catalogs in your multichannel strategy.

Prior to Pim2catalog, merchandisers were really faced with just two options for creating print catalogs:

Traditional Manual Process

This labor-intensive process is familiar to anyone who has created a print catalog in the last twenty years. It usually involves cutting and pasting product descriptions, imagery, and/or links from spreadsheets and product databases. Product descriptions are manually cut and pasted into pre-set templates. This creates lots of opportunity for all kinds of errors, which requires lots and lots of proofreading and lots of last minute stress (and typos) as changes in product specifications come in at the last minute. Additional localizations make every iteration exponentially more complicated.

The end-result is very high quality but the cost and stress put into achieving this result is painful.

Automated Catalog Generation

Several years ago a number of solutions arose that allowed for the direct creation of PDF files by combining design templates and content from .csv files. This sounds ideal, but the reality is more sobering. The highly templated nature of the process allows for very little page variation, call-outs, and the visual and textual flair that creates sales.

Customers just don’t want a catalog that looks like it was auto-generated.

They desire more variety in design and presentation than these direct-to-PDF solutions can provide.

Pim2catalog gives merchandisers a hybrid of both worlds: beautiful and highly impactful custom catalogs with much of the speed and efficiency of automation. Using Pim2catalog allows retailers and manufacturers to automate as much or as little of the process as they like. They can customize every page or just lavish extra attention on one or two areas and take a more templated approach for the rest.

Efficiency gains vary, but gains of 30-50% are average. One customer reported that their main catalog used to take six months with 7 people but now only takes two months with 2 people—while maintaining the same level of product information and design.

Many companies initially adopt Pim2catalog expecting to use it primarily to showcase their entire product line. However, the increased speed with which they can publish specialized catalogs often means that they quickly adopt their strategy to sending out more, but smaller and more focused, catalogs that are also cheaper to print and mail.

Some companies, such as B2B companies or sellers of large numbers of parts and/or SKUs, have found that they don’t need to create print catalogs at all. They simply keep their product catalog available as a PDF and output new PDFs with updated product information as often as once a day.

Overall, companies that adopt Pim2catalog find that:

  • Production times and costs are cut by 1/3 to 1/2
  • Product description errors virtually disappear
  • Catalog managers are much calmer and happier

Pim2catalog: Only on Akeneo

It began by being built atop .csv files before Akeneo was founded; the same .csv files that so many Akeneo customers relied upon but found endlessly frustrating before they too discovered PIM.

Naolis and Akeneo started their partnership even before Akeneo PIM launched. Once the Naolis team understood what Akeneo was building, they immediately signed up to be one of Akeneo’s first partners. The first version of the connector was shipped in time for the Akeneo PIM launch. Every updated version (of both Akeneo and Pim2catalog) has improved the integration and user experience. Akeneo PIM and Pim2catalog are now both very mature products with rock-solid reliability, ease of use, and integration.

Akeneo PIM’s channel management allows for product data to be customized for specific channels with descriptions and technical attributes that are tailored to that outlet. This allows companies to have different formats for online versus print.

Pim2catalog is only available on Akeneo PIM.

Pim2catalog is an open source project supported by an annual subscription featuring an SLA-backed support agreement. You can try it out via the Akeneo Marketplace or from Pim2catalog’s standalone website.

About the writer
Aymeric Morilleau
Chief Technical Officer at Pim2Catalog

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