PIM as turbo boost for successful product communication
BY KATHARINA GÖTZE
Increasing diversification and accelerated innovation cycles are leading to product portfolios becoming more and more extensive and complex. With the introduction of the asimSuite, REGRO Elektro-Großhandels GmbH successfully tackles the challenge of managing the amount of products efficiently and communicating them in a targeted manner across multiple channels.
With more than one million products in distribution, of which 150,000 are stored in the EDP system and another 40,000 in stock, it is understandable when Uwe Klingsbigl, Sales Manager at REGRO Elektro-Großhandel GmbH, highlights product communication as their core business. As a subsidiary of the global REXEL Group, REGRO is represented throughout Austria with eight branches. Counting 135 employees and a turnover of 98 million euros, REGRO is a wholesaler for the industrial service, for electrical installation technology, lighting and building management systems, and data networking and communications technology. Well-known companies in the electrical trade and retail sector as well as industry rely on the products and expertise of the company.
REXEL has provided its Austrian distribution partners, REGRO Elektro-Großhandels GmbH and SCHÄCKE Elektro-Großhandels Ltd., with a comprehensive print catalogue in the form of product data sheets, specifications and seasonal catalogues for a long time. “We have produced print catalogues in the past,” Uwe Klingsbigl recalls, but the effort of creating them was much greater in the past. That was when the company had to rely solely on a manually created main catalogue, which was composed of about 15,000 items. Also the web shop contained only the most essential information, such as prices, stock numbers, and short product descriptions. A media-neutral, efficient product data management system, with which a multi-channel strategy could be implemented, was out of the question at that time.
“Widespread communication of product data is essential for us as a wholesaler of brand products,” explains Uwe Klingsbigl. An increasingly complex and extensive product portfolio plus the need to operate internationally and communicate across multiple channels raise the need for efficient product data management in many companies. This is true for REGRO too, the sales manager confirms: “The increasing amount of products together with rapidly changing product ranges and the growing demands on the market for quality of information, required the introduction of a product information management system.” For many years now, REXEL, and thus REGRO, have relied on PIM solutions.
The expectations for the asimSuite are summarised by Sales Manager, Uwe Klingsbigl concisely: “Our aim is to be faster and more flexible.” With PIM, REGRO has found a solution, which allows data management and maintenance via a single, cross-media product database. Any information relevant for a publication must no longer be maintained repeatedly, but is available as a single up-to-date version for all publications. This creates new opportunities for customer communication, because now high-quality catalogues and sales documents can be realised in a very short time and it is possible to react to customer requirements quickly. In addition to printed catalogues, the importance of PDF documents with detailed product information available for download online has increased dramatically. In the “Catalogue division” three employees prepare these publications under the direction of Martin Nussgruber. “This small team has a very high output,” says the department head. Booklets of up to 30 pages can be produced in only twelve hours.
In Martin Nussgruber’s opinion that fact that he can create templates independently, after only a short training at asim, is down to “the products asimBase asimPublish” being as “powerful and easy to use” as they are. A big advantage for him is the creation of PDFs, which include links in the web shop: “We deposit the links in asimBase, and we get them together with the PDF.. This makes us much more flexible and able to react to product promotions very quickly.” Another big plus is the possibility of making last minute changes shortly before going to print. This means new prices can be imported shortly before the release date. These changes are made right at the source, that is in the database. Following that, generation is restarted and the publication completed automatically.
“Customisation of the publications is of great significance to us,” explains Uwe Klingsbigl: “The fact that our product portfolio is very diverse ‒ as we cater for electrical engineers, while also supplying industrial customers (for example in the field of mechanical engineering) and facility managers ‒ means
that every customer has different requirements of our range. By using our PIM system the customisation of our catalogues is possible within a relatively manageable budget.”
Furthermore, the different product ranges, such as product lifecycles can be managed and presented individually. “The different product cycles are a challenge for the production of publications. While, for example, it is sufficient to upgrade cables and wires only every five years, or living room switches annually, LED technology requires an update every three months. With PIM and the ability for customisation it offers, we are now able to produce detailed assortment lists relatively quickly,” explains Uwe Klingsbigl. Nowadays, clear communication oriented to our target groups takes place across multiple channels.
Besides an extensive print catalogue, Uwe Klingsbigl relies on the web shop as a kind of hybrid platform: “I don’t think there will be a time in the foreseeable future when we will only be using electronic media. A combination of print and online media is more likely in future. In our experience, the customer uses print to find products. However, he sources detailed information, such as current pricing information in the web shop. He continues: “We have observed significant developments in how people use and accept our online shop. An increase in acceptance of the online offer has been driven primarily by the fact that the products are now managed extensively. This can clearly be attributed to the product information management system.” Up to 150,000 items are stored in the EDP system and therefore in the REGRO web shop, too. In addition to the growing relevance of online channels for B2B e-commerce, mobile e-commerce plays an increasingly important role as a new sales channel.
For efficient product management to take place, companies need to invest in data administration. “The aforementioned product lifecycles alone are a burden for data maintenance. We needed to put together a team for that sector,” says Sales Manager, Uwe Klingsbigl. An investment that has ultimately paid off for the company.
Asim is a manufacturer of enterprise software that enables retailers, manufacturers and service providers to manage their product information from various data sources centrally while presenting it across all marketing and sales channels easily, flexibly and quickly.
REGRO Elektro-Großhandels GmbH
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue Q2 2015- Picture credit © Gary Waters/Getty Images