What parts of supermarket catalog production can be automated?
Supermarket catalog production can be broken down into the same key elements, regardless of the exact details of your individual business. And much of this process can be facilitated - even fully automated - using software. Here’s how.
Creating the page layout/design
This stage involves agreeing the design, structure, and layout of the catalog, then building it in software like Adobe InDesign. This process might be performed by an in-house artworker, a freelance designer, or external agency.
The designer is responsible for importing and styling all of the product information and images, to make the catalog attractive and easy to read. That’s a large amount of information and images to find, import, and format.
Plus, with so many stakeholders involved in the process, there may be a lot of feedback and amends to collect and incorporate correctly, as well as updating and maintaining the accuracy of product information if it changes during production.
By using and integrating software, these processes can be streamlined significantly, making it possible to produce a preliminary design in minutes, not days. For example by:
- Creating reusable smart templates that automatically import and format product information from your master data source (like a PIM or spreadsheet)
- Integrating your Digital Asset Management system with your design software, so that images are automatically pulled into your template too
- Allowing multiple people to work on the same design simultaneously - including in-house and external agency staff
Importing product information
Supermarkets use a variety of ways to manage their product data: from semi-manual solutions like spreadsheets, to more specialist Product Information Management (PIM) systems.
In an ideal world, you’d be able to easily import this information into your catalog design and - even better - have it automatically update if product information changes. The good news is, if you’re already using a PIM, this is perfectly possible.
PIM acts as a single centralized database of all product information - such as prices, descriptions, and stock levels. With the right integrations, it can feed other software - like ERP and e-commerce systems - with up-to-date product information too.
If you’re able to integrate your PIM into your catalog production processes, you’ll no longer have to worry about manually importing information, copying and pasting it into the right text boxes, and remembering to update information if it changes.
This isn’t just a huge time-saver, it also removes the risk of publishing erroneous information or introducing discrepancies between channels, because any changes made to the master data source are automatically made in your catalog too.
Importing product images
DAM (a Digital Asset Management system) is another centralized database which - when integrated into your catalog production processes - can drive huge efficiencies. But instead of holding product information it usually holds product imagery, along with other assets like videos, logos, and more.
When PIM and DAM are integrated with your catalog production processes, magical things happen.
- Product images can be automatically pulled into your catalog design alongside text and data
- Product images can automatically update in your design (and anywhere else they’re used) if they change in your DAM
- Designers save significant time compared to manually searching for, retrieving, and importing hundreds of images from external sources or internal file servers
Traditionally DAM has a user-facing dashboard to let people easily add, search and download images. But retailers are increasingly using ‘headless DAM’. This means there’s no user-facing frontend, just a powerful backend that serves up assets to other systems, such as e-commerce sites.
However, like PIM, DAM can deliver digital advances and automations beyond just catalog production...
The approval process
Once your catalog artwork is compiled, your stakeholders need to check it, make any corrections, and finally sign it off to print.
This can be an arduous process that involves: manually creating a PDF proof; sharing it with stakeholders via email or FTP; receiving and amalgamating feedback in a variety of formats; making the amends… and then doing it all again with version two.
There are a few ways this process can be streamlined. Take WoodWing Studio for example. Studio includes features such as:
- The ability to share a PDF proof within the system
- The ability for stakeholders to mark up feedback within the system and see what others have changed
- Version history to track and compare changes
- Audit trail to maintain a record of what was changed and why
Studio eradicates numerous time-consuming tasks like transferring proofs and allows for easily synchronized feedback.