The role of PIM and database publishing in the digital transformation

Elina Flaum, Melisa Sakar and Leon Huperz

In the world of customer experience, sustainable product data management, e-commerce, digital marketing and many other topics are crucial. But all of these topics have one thing in common: product data and much more its quality are critical. STRACK NORMA demonstrates how PIM and database publishing are driving digital transformation and how a clever templating process has ushered in a new era of automation for catalogs, brochures and flyers.

Product power in the spotlight: overcoming data management challenges

Given STRACK NORMA's impressive array of more than 1,800 items in over 120,000 dimensions, the marketing team was faced with the challenging question: How can the products be presented quickly, specifically and efficiently? Print media continued to be of great importance, but manual creation proved to be very time-consuming. In addition, inconsistent data maintenance led to inconsistencies in various databases. With the goal of responding to customer needs quickly and creating more efficient brochures, catalogs, flyers and much more in a data-driven manner, STRACK NORMA decided to implement a sustainable PIM system to meet the growing challenges.

PIM implementation in times of pandemic

The decision to implement a PIM system at STRACK NORMA was the start of an exciting journey that the manufacturer embarked on together with one of Europe's largest IT digitization consultants - valantic. After jointly defining the requirements and goals within the scope of product data communication, a careful evaluation of the PIM providers took place.

Unexpectedly, also during this process came the Covid-19 pandemic. However, STRACK NORMA decided to make effective use of the time and move the project forward. With determination, valantic's expertise and C-level will, it was still possible to proceed with the evaluation process, as well as the subsequent PIM implementation. A special feature of this period was the complete switch to remote communication. Despite the physical distance, a human connection was created that made a significant contribution to the success of the project. Technologically, the two biggest challenges were the replacement of the in-house developed Access database and the automation of the print publications.

A successful PIM implementation in 5 steps using the example of STRACK NORMA

1. Data optimization and normalization: standardization for clear information

In the first phase, the product data was carefully analyzed and optimized, with all terms, such as the material "steel", undergoing extensive normalization. This is because, up until the start of the project, various employees used different terms, such as "steel," "ST," or "steel tool". This targeted cleansing ensured high-quality information. Furthermore, one of the most important basic building blocks of any PIM project is the construction of the data model to group similar products into specific groups. Product properties and attributes were defined and assigned to the corresponding product classes, which significantly minimized the maintenance data effort. The data is now available centrally and accessible to all in an SSoT.

2. MAM database for efficient media linking

The second phase involved building the MAM module included within the PIM system with product photos, technical drawings and installation drawings. Due to the included MAM module, automatic links as well as relationships between the products and the assets could then be realized. This significantly reduced and accelerated the effort required for media linking.

3. Definition of output channels: tailored product information

The output channels were defined in three phases. The different requirements of each channel were taken into account. Defined quality gates ensure that only output channel-specific data is played out to the channels. For example, specific data such as size, color, inventory and availability are played out to store applications.

4. Efficient interface integration

In the fourth phase, interfaces were implemented to the ERP system, the website, the webshop, and via the priint:comet plug-in to Adobe InDesign were implemented. This made it possible to create a smooth data transfer, as well as a sustainable overall composition in terms of the system architecture.

5.Templates for customized print media

In the final phase, templates for the print media were created in InDesign. These customized templates enabled the efficient creation of catalogs, brochures and flyers. A single template covers several products or chapters, which today greatly simplifies the design process.

Thanks to this structured approach, STRACK NORMA now operates on the basis of efficient product data management, which forms the basis for successful digital transformation. The optimized processes and centralized data management enables the company to respond quickly and specifically to customer needs and improve the customer and product experience.

Masterpiece templating: efficiency, freedom and time-saving in marketing

The templating process at STRACK NORMA is both strategic and creative at the same time. After careful examination of the data in Contentserv, attributes are defined for the template. With the help of sketches, a uniform structure is created that integrates proven elements from previous templates. The templates are brought to life and seamlessly linked to Contentserv, which includes design rules and formatting.

Thanks to the establishment of a sustainable PIM system and an SSoT for all product information, everything is consistently up to date and compliant with regulations.

Conclusion

The implementation of an intelligent PIM system at STRACK NORMA has proven to be the key to a successful digital transformation. Through a modern implementation approach, as well as the great efficiency in the context of product data management, a successful multi-channel strategy was established and the foundation for a sustainable product experience management was formed. The use of templates for the production of the 24 brochures and three catalogs with up to 1,100 pages per year, not only enabled time savings and efficiency in marketing, but also allowed more room for creativity and the timely fulfillment of customer requirements.

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