Interview with supermarket La Anonima: How they managed to streamline catalog production


La Anonima is Argentina’s fourth-largest supermarket by market share. Boasting a proud 113-year history, the business has 165 stores in 85 cities, from Goya in the north to the world’s most southerly city, Ushuaia.

Six years ago, La Anonima started an e-commerce site for non-grocery items including tech and homeware. Today, La Anonima promotes all their products through a combination of their e-commerce site, localized printed catalogs in-store, and via social media.

This complex system of content deliverables is created by an in-house team, working in partnership with several external agencies. We caught up with La Anonima Marketing Director, Santiago Passeron, to find out how asset management has helped the supermarket chain streamline their processes.

Santiago Passeron, Executive Director of E-commerce and Marketing, La Anonima

Welcome, Santiago. You’re Marketing Director for La Anonima but your background is in industrial engineering. Did that impact your approach to the role initially?

Yes, I’ve been Marketing Director at La Anonima for seven years but I come from a whole other sector. I’m an industrial engineer by training and worked in planning and finance before joining La Anonima. When I joined the business, I had no experience of managing assets, agencies etc. But I came to realize there were two main areas where processes could be improved.

Firstly, there were extremely manual workflows to develop our weekly offer catalogs. And secondly, we had very unstructured processes for managing our assets.

Everything that we needed, we had to ask the agency for it. They’d go through their files and send us several versions of the same asset. We were never sure if an image was the latest version, we always had to validate it with the product owner, it was difficult to share assets, hard to find things. There was unproductivity there, so I knew that represented a big opportunity for improvement.

Do you think this problem was unique to La Anonima or do other supermarkets in Argentina face the same issues?

Argentina possibly has a more complex context nowadays than other countries. Fast-moving consumer goods are tightly regulated and there's price regulation too. So suppliers are constantly bringing up new versions of old products; just to skip a little bit the government controls. So we have a high turnover of assets.

Being able to manage these effectively is essential but I think, in Argentina at least, supermarket chains don’t have this situation under control. Whether they’re small regional chains or multinationals like Carrefour or Walmart, I don’t think they have this problem solved.

They just don’t view this as a strategic issue. Creative processes are always done very manually and, in some way or another, everybody gets it done. But that’s not the optimum way.

So that made it challenging to know how we should approach the problem; because there were no industry examples to benchmark against.

And you got around that by looking outside the supermarket sector, didn’t you?

Yes, we’re really good at maintaining a single source of truth for our transactional data and we knew we wanted the same for our creative assets. But we didn’t know what this might look like.

So we got in touch with a specialist who had developed projects in the editorial industry and he was a lot of help because he really knew this niche.

Because he came from a different industry, he was able to paint us a very concrete picture of what we could do and the solutions on the market.

I know that the consultant that's working with us has been tapped by other supermarkets to try to bring some kind of solution to a similar problem. So I think awareness of the strategic value of digital asset management in the supermarket sector is growing.

La Anonima, supermarket brochure creation

What criteria did you use to shortlist solutions?

We started with 10 or 12 tools and solutions at first and narrowed them down.

We wanted something simple and easy to use, and also that fitted in with other tech in our stack. Also, something that wasn’t too expensive. We didn’t approach this project from the point of view of making tangible cost savings, so we needed it to be affordable.

We also wanted it to be easy to open up to other users – agencies, store managers, merchandisers, marketing specialists – for collaborative working. Especially in the current situation, with most people working from home.

And local expertise was also an important factor for us. This sort of specialist expertise isn’t easy to find in-house, so we wanted someone we could draw on for support. Not just with the selection process but once we started uploading assets, the maintenance, and admin of the system – everything we needed to make it work properly.

The ability to collaborate remotely was important to you. So how many people use WoodWing Assets now?

We have around 10 in the marketing department and then we would have around 20 to 30 working in different agencies. We've not yet opened it up to all the different areas of the company that could benefit. I think it will be beneficial to the learning department, human resources, and also individual stores, which sometimes produce their own materials. We're not yet there. But we're going to.

La Anonima, WoodWing Assets for supermarkets

And do you use any integrations to improve collaborative processes?

We use Asset’s integration with Wrike to work with external agencies. We probably coordinate about 80% of our agency work using Wrike and Assets together. The agency that creates our weekly catalogs is automating some of the processes now too. So we provide an Excel spreadsheet with product information in and they pull that information, including relevant photos from Assets, into a catalog template.

It’s a good example, how this tool is helping to boost productivity for us and the agency. Our agency also makes good use of Asset’s integration with Adobe InDesign too.

Our job at La Anonima is to help the business compete. So it’s great that we have access to good quality of assets, have systems that support automation, and agencies working in the same system as us. It’s beneficial to have all of those processes under control.

Change management can be challenging. Did you come across any resistance to implementing the system?

No, it was really easy. We still have to get into a little bit of a rhythm with deciding which, of all the assets we produce, we’ll share in WoodWing Assets. But there was no resistance. It’s very friendly and everybody recognized the value of having only one source to go and look for things.

This was especially important at the moment, with everyone working from home. Having that single source of truth for digital content means everyone is talking about the same thing – you know where you have to go to get the information and assets you need. And you know it’s the correct, approved version.

And what about the future? Do you plan to expand your use of Assets?

Certainly. We want to roll out the system to more departments in the business. A top priority is going to be integrating with our e-commerce systems. We also want to fully integrate Assets with a PIM system to automate processes further. At the moment, we’re focusing on building a strong foundation for the future expansion of the system.

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Magdalena Ivanova, Product Marketing Manager

Magdalena is a digital marketer and tech enthusiast with multiple marketing disciplines under her belt. Her articles cover various topics, including all things marketing, digital asset management, interviews, opinions etc. 
You can follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn