Coopers of Stortford digitise their In-house production and see a 30% increase in productivity
Coopers of Stortford describes itself as a traditional home and garden store, specialists in selling ‘function-led’ products. For generations their single store in the heart of the market town of Bishops Stortford, remains to this day very much a part, and centre of, the vibrant local community.
But they are much more than this: a brand who produces upwards of 5,000 catalogue pages a year which are distributed to their huge, loyal customer base. Coupled with this, there are leaflets, OOH advertising, an extensive website that holds more than 2,000 products, all with their own unique SKUs, images, assets and product descriptions.
“We had been looking at centralising our creative and production processes for some while, and ec2i have been the perfect partner for us on this journey with their Product Information Management (PIM) Solution. Quite frankly, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for their systems”
Daniel Martin - Head of Creative & Customer Communications
Before implementing our production management solution, the company didn’t have a digitised process. Data was manually copied and pasted into Adobe InDesign by their artworkers from multiple documents and file locations. Image assets were structured on an internal server with limited search functionality and the potential for undetected deletion. However, it had been on the company’s financial agenda for some time but there was never enough time available to scope the project.
Their in-house production team knew they needed a solution that would digitise their production and improve their efficiency.
Then Covid called and the matter became an overnight priority as making data available to team members working from home proved very difficult.
The marketing team were requiring more and more material to be output in an ever-decreasing timeframes to keep up with the demanding pandemic marketplace. More staff would require a much higher outlay than implementing a software solution that could help them manage their production and meet the increasing output requirement in a shorter timeframe.
From a standing start, and with internal ‘champions’ with prior knowledge of the system, to make the change happen, they took the decision and started on the roadmap to develop and implement ec2i’s Product Information Management Solution.
Daniel Martin continues, “From a thorough project scoping phase, extensive testing and development process, right through to full role out of asset management and catalogue production, ec2i have provided excellent support throughout. Their training was always engaging and informative, enabling a fast and smooth integration of the wider team to new processes.”
Their production cycle now contains just three prongs:
PIM (Product Information Management) - Product SKUs, pricing, copy, descriptions, sizing, headers, offers, product related data including delivery and advisory information, image, video and file assets are centralised into the PIM with some fields automatically populated from their legacy ERP system via an API.
The marketing team feed copy and image assets into the PIM as the products evolve and pricing is updated via spreadsheet as and when needed. This process consolidates all of the information that the production team will need to produce their marketing material for multiple channels, whether it be catalogues, leaflets, advertisements, OOH, web banners etc.
Publication Tools; (Stickyboard & Flatplan) - Initial concepts for the publications are created via the digital Sticky Board utilising the product information held in the PIM before it reaches the full design stage. This allows for product placement based on sales strategy, trends and market analysis.
The initial concepts can then be viewed collectively in the digital flat plan, which is then shared and collaborated upon to reach the desired layout. All of which saving valuable art working time and rounds of correction.
Once the selection and product placement is complete, the page is ‘published’. Styled product data and images flow via the Renaissance Adobe InDesign plug-in directly into the pages mirroring the positions set in Sticky Board. The artworkers can then make up the pages, and create a design-stage pdf to re-populate the digital flat plan.
The flat plan is automatically updated as the design process progresses, allowing the team to re-paginate and re-folio by simply dragging and dropping them into new positions. These changes push directly to InDesign for the artworkers to update accordingly.
Last minute changes to product or copy within InDesign can be fed back to Renaissance via the plug-in, ensuring data is the same across all marketing channels and accurate for future use. Coopers prefer to make all updates within their PIM and all versions of the art work are then updated using the Renaissance Adobe InDesign plugin. The centralised control they have with updates across multiple publications has already proved a massive benefit over their previous way of working.
Printer Ready PDFs - When the flat plan is approved with the design stage PDFs, Coopers can generate printer-ready PDFs using an automated workflow. These will automatically be given a pre-flight check to their chosen printer’s specification which will pick up any errors before final PDFs are generated.
Results & Benefits
Centralising their content and assets and utilising the Sticky Board and flat plans for their concepts and circulation, they knew that when it came to outputting their designs, the artworkers would have the correct and approved content delivered directly to InDesign, reducing the rounds of correction.
Digitising their production in this way has led to an increase in productivity of 30%. “Ultimately, we now have a higher level of accuracy so spend less time working on artwork – previously 3 rounds, now down to 2 - enabling us to turn pages and catalogues around much quicker” concludes Daniel.
From concept through to output including print-ready PDFs, Coopers have embraced our Product Information Management Solution (PIM) and automation to optimise their efficiency and react to the market.
“We are seeing the real benefits of having “one version of the truth” across all of our production streams and the speed at which updates can be made is a great asset. I could not recommend ec2i highly enough if you need a hardworking, conscientious, and generally lovely group of people to partner with.”
Since the start, the Coopers’ production and marketing teams have embraced the new systems and processes to the extent that they’re now self-sufficient training their own staff and updating the design, templates, library style etc. themselves, but they don’t want to stop there.
Future Proofing - So successful has been the implementation of the ec2i PIM that Coopers are now looking to extend this so that 3rd party suppliers, through a satellite of the system, can add their own product shots and related data which, when approved by the Coopers’ team, will populate their main PIM. This will dramatically reduce another part of the cycle improving their efficiency even further.
Asset tracking is also a ‘next step’, giving them greater control over all of their imagery. One of the many Renaissance features allows users to track photography items and images, whether it has been shot or not, approved or not, giving a clear holistic view of the whole production process from beginning to end.
We have used our 20+ years of experience to fine tune our technology offering and adapt to the ever-changing industry we are in. The systems have been tried and tested to support our internal staff and manage all of our clients varying production requirements which is why we are so confident in our technology services and believe it can revolutionise our client’s production process. It is always uplifting to see a brand embrace our technology and creative services, which sit cohesively together.
Discover ec2i’s Renaissance PIM to find out how our technology offerings can support your production, streamline your workflows & increase speed to market for your products.
WE COMMUNICATE YOUR MESSAGE, ENHANCE YOUR BRAND AND SMOOTH YOUR PRODUCTION PROCESS
Over 20 years of seamless business continuity is behind the company we are today and with a massive wealth of experience and knowledge to share with your team and brand, we ensure your project is completed on brief and on budget.
There is a can-do attitude that resonates through the very fabric of our company and with in-house R&D teams who spend their time developing and road-mapping our latest products and workflows to ensure that we offer the very latest production solutions to our clients. Our Renaissance complete workflow solution enables our clients to capture, create, manage and deploy their media content in one end-to-end platform. It’s bespoke and totally tailored to your production needs.