Automate catalogue production – from conception to completion

In a previous article we highlighted four ways in which Comosoft LAGO integrates with Adobe InDesign and virtually any product information management (PIM) or digital asset management (DAM) system. For retail catalogues, this integration means huge savings on the production side. In this article, however, we focus more on the “front end” of the process – the cost of planning and managing these complex but effective marketing tools.

Why print catalogues?

Retailers are facing some shifts from the pandemic as consumers increasingly turn away from in-store shopping to online shopping. This includes nearly half of the baby boomers with their large spending power, according Forbes. But it also presents unique opportunities for retail marketing. The biggest challenge here, however, is probably the large number of marketing channels and the resulting “noise” that makes it difficult for retailers to get their message across. Search engine optimisation (SEO) and the targeting of consumer data can be effective, but the more everyone uses these tools, the less effective they can become. The solution is to set up a distinctive and visually appealing channel that can bypass all the digital noise – preferably a channel that can be easily targeted to regions, demographic groups and even individuals. One such channel has been around for many years: the printed catalogue. The pandemic itself may have given the catalogue a new boost in popularity. A November 2021 NBC News report noted that many customers – including millennials – prefer printed catalogues to digital media. In addition to the pleasant feeling of nostalgia, the report pointed to other advantages of print media over digital media:

  • The catalogue experience invites leisurely browsing and discovery, in contrast to the hectic, fast-paced mobile experience. One customer said, “I get frustrated when I search for something online. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you don’t know what’s available. You can’t just browse through and look at things”.
  • The catalogue’s large, full-colour layout provides a richer visual experience than most displays on smaller devices.
  • For millennials, who are often constantly in front of digital screens, flipping through printed catalogues doesn’t feel like work.
  • Customers acquired through catalogues are more loyal (and therefore likely to buy more) than customers acquired through online channels.

The catalogues themselves have also evolved. They are much leaner, attractively designed and focus on individual topics and product categories. Most importantly, today’s catalogues are highly customisable. The same consumer data that benefits online marketing teams can be combined with a retailer’s PIM and DAM data to create a high quality catalogue that is “just for you”.

The challenge and the solution

Creating customised print catalogues requires high quality underlying data, from the initial planning phase of a campaign to the production and distribution of the catalogues. This means selecting the right combination of products (products with high profit margins and successful sales history) and placing the right PIM and DAM data on the page, with the ability to customise and measure results.

Comosoft has found an efficient way to process all this data effectively with its multichannel software LAGO. LAGO enables retailers to unify PIM and DAM data entered by their manufacturers and suppliers, eliminating duplication and potential for error. In addition, LAGO’s whiteboarding feature brings marketers and product managers together, allowing them to draw from all data sources. This includes regional pricing and customer purchase history to create and manage effective, measurable catalogue campaigns.

LAGO Whiteboard is the central module for the efficient and effective production of print advertising material, with which pages can be quickly designed and populated even without layout knowledge. The results are made available to the creative staff (graphics department), whether internal or external, in InDesign as a layout document. Here, the pages can then be professionally prepared for printing. In addition, the whiteboard is also the perfect bridge to involve or integrate product or category management in the marketing production process.

Once the marketing team has finished designing the campaign, LAGO continues to work and automate the catalogue production process. For example, the graphic designer is automatically provided with each product’s PIM and DAM data as a ‘block’ of related information. In turn, they use a LAGO-generated Adobe InDesign template to design a high-quality layout – and don’t waste time manually searching for and placing individual SKU-related data.

One advertising medium – many variants. LAGO Whiteboard also supports the planning of a large number of regional or market-specific variants. Even at this stage of production, it is displayed whether individual variants have already been completely filled. In this way, regional exchangers can be easily planned in a controlled manner without losing the overview.

This drastically reduces costly errors. In addition, LAGO maintains a live connection between the PIM and DAM data sources and the InDesign layout. So changes in the data, such as a price change or an update to the product image, automatically update the catalogue layout right through to print.

The biggest advantage for marketing production managers, however, is LAGO’s ability to handle complex versions. This can range from region-specific catalogue versions to detailed adjustments based on demographic data or buying behaviour.

The LAGO Version Optimization module makes it possible to reduce the generation of print variants to the number of variants that actually have to run through a production and coordination process. It does not matter at which level you produce a variant. The entire range of country-specific, regional/market-specific and customer-specific variants is covered.

What would otherwise be a huge investment of time and money (and a greater risk of error) becomes a manageable, data-driven process. Although the benefits of data-driven catalogues cannot be overstated, LAGO also facilitates the digital side of the marketing equation. For example, complex product SKUs and special offers included in a catalogue campaign can be automatically exported for use in web and mobile applications.

LAGO Digital Output is an advanced module specifically for managing and outputting content for publishing online, interactive digital brochures and digital catalogues. The module creates JPEGs or PDFs from the LAGO InDesign pages and an associated XML file with overlay coordinate data as well as data on the project, project variants and product details. Digital Output can be configured to fully automate the creation of overlay coordinates. It is also possible to handle the assignment of gallery content automatically.

Learn more about how Comosoft LAGO can make complex catalog production more efficient, while also improving their quality and impact. Or you can book a demo via the button on the right to see it for yourself.