Data sheet versus catalog = symbiosis of both

Artur Wozniak-Feldmeier

In recent years, customer needs have changed significantly, and WAGO has actively responded to these changes. The response to this change has led the company to move away from traditional print catalogs and instead develop an agile, digital publishing platform to meet the neccesary requirements.  

Trade is subject to continuous change, which forces companies to adapt to changing customer requirements and technological progress. One company that demonstrates how this can succeed is WAGO, a globally active manufacturer in the field of electrical connection and automation technology. Their product range of more than 30,000 items is presented in six extensive main catalogs, which are also affectionately called “bibles” internally. These catalogs are often comprised of  more than 1,000 pages and are extended every six months by supplementary catalogs. Additionally, there are target group catalogs and a brief overview of the entire product portfolio published in numerous languages.

Metamorphosis at WAGO: from print to digital

The origins of WAGO's catalog history go back to 1994, when the first print catalog was created on an Apple Macintosh using QuarkXPress. Later, the switch to Windows occurred at the request of the IT department, and eventually Adobe InDesign was used as the design software. However, regardless of the operating system or graphics software, the effort required to create the catalog remained enormous, and the processes were time-consuming and resource-intensive. In 2004, WAGO began implementing a product information management (PIM) system to automate catalog production. However, this classic catalog automation was not always successful and led to mixed results and compromises in terms of data quality.

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The breakthrough with facet catalogs: a recipe for success

A turning point came in 2017, when WAGO implemented a radically new approach: producing catalogs using the facet approach. A facet catalog is essentially an extremely rule-based method for the target group-oriented construction of catalogs.

Despite initial skepticism, WAGO has received consistently positive feedback from customers, sales employees, product managers, and stakeholders.

You can find out more about facet catalogs here.

Farewell to the printed catalog

Over time, demand for the printed main catalogs has declined sharply, so that WAGO announced that it would provide the "bibles" in paper form for the final time in 2023. At the same time, the relevance of the data sheets increased, and they became an important touchpoint for customers. However, as different as WAGO's target groups are, so are the requirements for the data sheets in terms of scope, richness of detail, timeliness, readability, comparability, and integration into various marketplaces as well as online platforms.

Data sheets rethought: facet power for precise presentation

WAGO was now faced with the challenging task of presenting a wealth of information in almost innumerable possible combinations in customized data sheets in a target group-oriented manner. The experience with facetted catalogs was instrumental in this process. WAGO's customers have the option of generating data sheets according to their individually selected features. This "on-demand" creation of data sheets is offered as a cloud service, whereby a highly intelligent caching system keeps data sheets that have already been created in the system.

This innovative approach enables WAGO to effectively address customers' individual requirements while ensuring efficient provision of the required information.

Generation of data sheets

The results achieved are impressive

The document structure has been optimized, technical data is presented clearly and in a reference-oriented manner, approval logos are up-to-date and grouped in a meaningful way, and images and drawings are complete. A key feature is the reduction of the page count by at least 50%, which underlines the outstanding customer centricity and leads to an improved user experience.

WAGO has already been honored twice with one of the prestigious priint awards. In 2018, the company received the “Innovation” Award for the introduction of the facet catalog, followed by the award for the best “Publishing Project of the Year” at priint:day in 2023.

Moments of success

The creation of a publishing platform marks an important step for WAGO. It provides a variety of services to cater to individual customer requirements.

Through continuous improvements and innovative approaches, such as the use of graphic robots, composable commerce methods for the best services, or even more customer-centric publications and automation options in packaging, WAGO aims to continuously improve the customer experience.

Conclusion: WAGO's journey to digital transformation

WAGO's history is one of continuous improvement and innovation. From its beginnings with print catalogs to the development of a comprehensive publishing platform, WAGO has proven that it is possible to meet changing customer requirements while increasing efficiency and quality. The strategy of focusing on the customer and achieving continuous success will accompany WAGO on its journey into the future.

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