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Myyjä graafikkona salestool

Salesman as graphic designer – when everyone gets annoyed

Often sales personnel spend a lot of their work time creating all sorts of discount leaflets and other product information catalogs. For example they might create or compile price lists, product cards or customer-specific listings as an attachment to offers, because the marketing department doesn’t have the time or the skills to help. The sales personnel get annoyed because this takes up lots of their time and because it is boring copy paste job they wouldn’t really have the time, know-how or correct tools for.

On the other hand the marketing department might receive requests from the sales department to create personalized price lists or lists – which should be ready preferably the same day, or at the very least tomorrow because the offer needs to be sent to the client. Or they get asked to tune the self-made, copy-and-paste leaflets because they didn’t turn out visually appealing. The marketing department gets annoyed because this creates more work than they are able to deal with, because of how boring it is and because the sales personnel do not consider the brand uniformity at all when they create the leaflets.

If everyone gets annoyed, the outcome at worst can be visually appalling and content-wise lacking leaflets which take up lots of work time. If the sales personnel start working as graphic designers, does it make any sense to begin with?

All the time they have to spend on something other than making sales shows up in the profits instantly. And then everyone gets annoyed even more.

Luckily, there is a solution. Sales Tool creates good looking product information leaflets automatically, allowing the sales personnel to personalize them a bit – and then Sales Tool handles the rest. The end result is a ready, brand-related offer leaflet which even the marketing department is pleased with. And now everyone is happier.

According to customer feedback, the use of Sales Tool has helped many of our clients to achieve better results. For example IKH resellers sent us the following message:

Plaudits and big thanks to you for the Sales Tool! It works great, and now our sales space looks great when all the price tags are uniform. This saves unbelievable amounts of our time!

In the video below you can see how IKH uses Sales Tool to create their price tags.

You can have a look at other customer solutions from here.

Should you also free your sales personnel back to sellin? Contact us!

Adeona PIM 2017

We are currently developing a next generation Adeona PIM system, and while the foundation will be familiar, many things will be changing. Over the years we have learned a lot from PIM in general as well as from our clients, and we are using these insights in the development of a new product version.

Adedona PIM 2017 – highlights:

1. Architecture

The architecture has been updated to match growing needs and to adapt to different environments in the best ways possible. It’s scalable and supports larger amounts of data, and is available for deployment both as a cloud based service as well as on-premise/private cloud service.

 2. Information model

The information model of Adeona has been updated, and while most of the features remain the same, we are introducing some new ones as well. Based on the customer feedback, we have developed upgraded features and information models that support business needs better. Related workshops still continue.

 3. REST API

Everything works via a single interface, and the REST API is available for both internal system use as well as for external systems and developers. All the data within the system is available via uniform interface, which will help with e.g., integration and building data-driven applications.

4. Searchability

Search functionality and finding relevant information are key features in systems with a lot of data, and this is one thing we have really focused on. All the information saved in the system can be fetches swiftly and easily by using the Elasticsearch search engine which indexes all the information in real time. For example, a web store can use the PIM system as a search engine, streamlining the whole project.

5. User interface and usability

All admin access is web browser based, and the new user interface is fast and straightforward. The powerful search feature is used in many ways, and managing especially large amounts of data was taken into consideration during the planning of the user interface.

We are developing the product together with our clients, and the workshops related to the new version were held in March. We gathered together with our clients to go through some key uses of the system, and got familiar with the user interface and the functionalities.

Workshops will continue in the fall, so feel free to join us!

PIM has to be easy

At Canter we work each day to make product information management (PIM) as easy as possible. As with everything else, those who manage to make complex things easy will prevail, and this is also the case with product information management.

Although it’s not complex in the first place.

Or at least we don’t think it has to be, and following few principles will go long way. While company and industry specific differences do exist, the basic principle will always be the same.

PIM is not an IT project.

It is the implementation of new mode of operation that includes both change management and automation of manual processes. PIM system does not do everything automatically, but instead operates as enabler. In order to make product information management for our clients as easy as possible, we have focused especially on the following and been actively developing them.

Easy acquisition

We think that acquiring IT system should not be a complex task. Pricing models based on the amount of users or transactions direct the decision making incorrectly, and instead we think that it is more important to find out how to make most out of the usage and processes. The more our clients use the PIM system and the data it provides, the better are the benefits they can get out of it.

Easy acquisition also depends on:

  • the length of the contract – we believe in the added value we provide, not in long contracts
  • the possibility of starting with just simple specifications
  • what sort of training is included
  • how the client is supported with change management
  • the update guarantee

Easy deployment

Easy deployment of a system leads into powerful use. When the basis is solid, it is also easier to do change management.

Easy deployment means many things:

  • how well the specification workshops are managed and prepared
  • clear practices and industry-specific productization
  • ease of installation and parameterization of the system
  • functioning Application Program Interfaces (APIs) facilitate the integration
  • best practices and connectors to the most common systems

Easy usage

Easy-to-use user interface motivates the users to handle the upkeep of product information and benefit from the data.

Good user experience is the sum of its part, and listed are just few key points:

  • logical, reliable user interface
  • search functions that work faster than a though
  • smart recommendations
  • mass editing, importing and exporting; especially useful when dealing with large amount of products

Easy integration

Seldom does a PIM system operate alone, and usually it’s a part of at least one other system. It is very common to have it integrated with many other systems, for example with ERP or a webstore.

System integration needs to be easy, so well documented and standardized API makes it easier and faster for everyone. This allows the data to be exchanged between multiple systems without massive integration projects.

 Easy expansion and usage of data

We want to help our clients to benefit from their product information more effectively. When PIM interfaces are functional and open, it’s easy to build data-based applications with the help of product information. This allows for our clients to work with those they see fit themselves.

Could we help you to make your product information management easy as well? Contact us! 

 

Requirements tightening for packaging labels – a solution from Canter to bakeries and confectionaries

The Finnish Bakery Federation and Canter have signed a contract that allows for Canter and their partner Taito United to provide a recipe service RESPA for bakeries and confectionaries to use. This cloud-based service automatically produces the required information for food packaging labels, such as ingredients lists, allergens and nutritional values. This project was created due to the tightening requirements for packaging labels from 13.12.2016 onwards (European Union’s food information regulation).

bread

Project RESPA is not only useful for bakeries, but also for commodity producers as the service allows them to deliver up-to-date information into the hands of client businesses at once. The information can be integrated into the service automatically. The service will include both the commodities and all the products mentioned in Fineli information bank, along with their relevant information.

Read more about food packaging requirements.

logo_vihrea

Canter oy

More information:
Project Manager
Mervi Halme
mervi.halme@canter.fi
+358 400 409 700

Software Companies and Work Culture Changes

In Finland there is much talk about raising the retirement age, unemployment, changing work culture and how our society can be brought back on the growth path and how economic challenges can be resolved. There is enough material here to write numerous blog posts, but for now I will focus on the changing work culture and on some solutions to bringing our society back on the growth path.

Working life and work culture have changed significantly in the past 15 years or so, during which I have been full-time employed. Gradually organizations and leadership theories have changed direction and now encourage more conversation and working in groups and sharing decisions and responsibilities with those in the organization that are experts and there is also a strong desire to keep organizational structures as low as possible. All of these trends are obvious at Canter and they have brought many improvements to the way that this company operates. Regardless of one’s role in the company, all matters are discussed and resolved together in such a way that everybody is clear about the plans and the role that they play and their own duties. Motivation is strong when one gets to participate in considering choices and in making decisions and in enjoying the results of the work together as a team. In an open and conversational work culture it is also very important to pay attention to individual differences and to offer sufficient support and direction to those who are not as active or extroverted.  At Canter it is possible for any employee to go and have a talk even with the CEO. This creates a positive workplace atmosphere, a collaborative work effort and everybody pulling together to reach goals. Everybody here is working as a team and not just for the sake of ”production”.

The changes in work culture also reflect in customer service and sales. As recently as 10 years ago, many software companies tried to keep all of their own information very secret and told their customers and partners only what was deemed necessary and most sales consisted of cold calls and meetings with clientele to introduce the product or services. Nowadays many software companies, like Canter, have opted for rather open collaboration with their clientele and partners. This means that in example, much information is offered in regard to the products and interfaces, which many parties can benefit from and product and service development needs and directions are openly discussed with the clientele. In sales more emphasis is put on marketing and electronic channels in order to identify the potential clientele that has true need for and interest in the products and services offered. Conversations about how these clients can be served best will follow the initial contact. Also clientele behavior has changed much over the years. Previously it was typical for a client to ask for what they needed from the provider, but there was no real collaboration. Nowadays clients will actively collaborate with providers. They participate in making choices collaboratively and ask about alternatives openly and participate in planning on how to best achieve the desired results together with the provider. The work culture will see much change in the coming years, for example, with the ever increasing field of telecommuting and the clientele involving more providers and service providers in their own business development and software companies offering products and services more than ever before to their partners and for the benefit of other parties who bring in clientele. We will all win when we collaborate and share information more openly.

Petri Lehmus
Account Executive
Canter Oy

Orient Occident has chosen Canter for their product information management partner

Orient Occident and Canter have started a collaboration.

 

”Creating price catalogs has been challenging for us. With the Adeona Sales Tool we are able to crate the catalogs automatically, with an uniform look. By doing this, we are able to dedicate more time for our clients and into closing sales.”

Managing Director Mikko Puputti

Other advantages of using the centralized Adeona-PIM solution in the first place were e.g., being able to swiftly create stunning offers with photos. In addition, photos and other enriching product information can also be added to the ERP system. There are also plans to expand the usage of Adeona in the future.

Are you interested? For more information about our PIM solutions, please contact:
Janne Costiander
050 552 1054
janne.costiander@canter.fi

 

Orient Occident is a local family business.  The company imports interior textiles, floor coverings and carpets. The high quality interior design products and services are marketed for producers, retailers and other influential bodies and decision-makers in industry. www.orientoccident.fi.

Canter provides their clients with Adeona product data management solutions. With Adeona, it is possible to save all the information centrally in order to update and share them faster. Getting your product to the market becomes faster, and the results can be seen in the increase of customer satisfaction. You can read more about the company at:https://www.canter.fi/en/company/

Product information is our most important capital

A few weeks ago, I was with a client who stated that in future, product information will be their most important capital. Products are sold through high-quality product information and it allows them to reach big targets, such as doubling sales revenue over the next couple of yers. For example, maintaining an online shop without the proper processes and tools is impossible for them, never mind further developing their business.

We have been working with product information for several years now and completed dozens of projects. Often, product information and PIM as a term have been completely new to our clients and we have worked hard to raise the awareness in Finland. Indeed, often we have started from the processes involved in automated publishing in relation to product information. These are based on company’s needs and their benefits are easier to grasp. Of course nobody wants to do product information just for the sake of it, that’s why it’s better to see its benefits as soon as possible.

It has been a great pleasure to note that a growing number of organisations has studied product information management, knows the terminology and it has been noted even on the upper levels of the strategy. In many businesses, product information management is part of the daily life. Of course there are more businesses that are only coming around it now. At its best, product information management is seen as one of the core processes that is meant for feeding information into channels that require it. Often, the client realises the importance of product information management as they set up their online shop. The online shop obviously requires quick reactions and real-time updates. This raises some eyebrows as old sales channels may have been functioning through manual processes for years. For example, it may take months to manually produce a printed catalogue whereas it could be produced in a fraction of the time if the process was automated.

Of course, the client’s statement raises their requirements onto a new level. How does one manage product information and more importantly, how do you use it efficiently to reach big targets? What should the processes be and how do the tools support them? These are some of the questions we gladly help our clients with. Take a look at the reference page and see how we have helped some of our current clients with their solutions.

 

Customer needs are concrete in nature

Often, the customers’ needs regarding product information management or publishing automation are very concrete and their benefits directly observed. I was visiting a customer who produces instruction manuals for their products in numerous languages. At the moment, these manuals are produced fully manually, which means that the text and images are laid onto an InDesign document which gets converted into a PDF-file. The finished instruction manual gets saved onto the system as a PDF, which then gets shared onto websites etc.

As the brand image has recently changed, the instruction manual’s back cover needs updated, meaning that the change will apply to all instruction manuals. There are not overwhelmingly many of the products that require these manuals, only around 500. However, they get translated into several languages so the overall amount is significantly larger. Let’s assume that there are five languages, which then makes the overall number of these manuals around 2500.

The manual changing process goes as follows:

  1. The original file gets downloaded from the system onto the user’s work station
  2. The user replaces the back cover or adds the necessary changes
  3. The instruction manual gets converted into a PDF-file
  4. The produced PDF-file and its page layout file get saved into the system where it can be used again for websites etc.

This process takes around 5 minutes per document. Going through all the documents, this will take 12,500 minutes which is over 200 hours, or 30 full working days. In practice this means that one individual in the business would be making these changes to the documents for six working weeks. Thus, the job that seemed so insignificant at first actually takes a significant amount of time. In reality, the documents are translated into many more languages than given in this example.

This problem can be easily solved through publishing automation. These instruction manuals could be produced and saved automatically which would also mean that the updated documents would be quickly available in the system as the changes are processed.

An example of one of Adobe InDesign-based publishing automation: