Press Release: Comosoft opens new office in Valencia

Comosoft opens new office in Valencia (Spain)

Using the potential in one of the biggest upcoming tech areas in Europe.

Hamburg, August 2021 – Comosoft is happy to announce the opening of another company location located in Valencia (Spain), additional to the valued locations of the Comosoft Inc in Plano (Texas) and Chicago (Illinois).

In the past years the city of Valencia laid its focus clearly on forcing innovation – especially in technology and software development. This found expression in a broad base of technology specialists and highly skilled professionals in the valencian area and all around Spain. To meet the expectations of Comosoft´s fast growing customer base, Comosoft decided to open a new office full of experts in Valencia.

“Well trained people, a good infrastructure and of course a very interesting market made the decision for Valencia very easy.“, says Peter Jozefiak, CEO of Comosoft. „We were able to assemble a very good and passionate team within a few months and integrate them into Comosoft.“

The Comosoft Technology Spain team consists of Professional Service Consultants, Software Developers and Sales Managers. With this team of experts Comosoft is also ready to enter the spanish and latinamerican market with full force, making the marketing material production more efficient with their unique multichannel solution LAGO.

“Betting on an international project in the IT sector has been a great challenge for my career but I could not be more satisfied with the decision, bringing a software to Spain and Latin America with so much added value for the retail sector is just fascinating!“, states Jennyfer Diaz Hidalgo, Sales Manager at Comosoft in Valencia.


LAGOmation: The Real-World Promise of Data Driven Marketing Automation

Industrial automation is an accepted reality. Automating marketing communication production is a much different thing. Is automation even possible in the fast-moving, data-intensive world of multichannel marketing?

Automation has been a fact of life since before the Industrial Revolution and self-regulating steam engines, water mills, and looms. Having one machine that could do the work of many workers was the eighteenth-century industrialist’s dream and the manual laborer’s worst nightmare. Fast forward to today. Robots and high-speed assembly lines are the rule, not the exception.

But automating physical tasks is easy compared with the daunting task of automating data processes—especially when it comes to marketing. There are so many subjective variables, and so many different output channels. The goals are the same, however. Besides lowering costs, automation will accomplish a number of tasks.

  • Increases quality & accuracy (less flawed output)
  • Increases customization within reason (more output variety)
  • Increases throughput (more output-per-hour)
  • Relieves workers of boring tasks (less output fatigue)
  • Increases worker innovation potential (more time for Output 2.0!)

Now, replace the word “output” with retail promotions, or any other marketing campaign deliverable, and you’ll see the potential—and the difficulty—of applying these principles in the real world of marketing.

Mapping the Problem

In simpler times, marketing communication was a linear process. Agencies and brands would cook up the message, test it with a focus group (or not), and start the assembly line of designing, writing, and illustrating the finished product – for broadcast or print production. Budget size mattered, but most of the time everyone knew what to expect.

Today, it’s a lot more complex, with a lot more variables and room for error. We still need well-designed, visually persuasive results, but the “ingredients” of a campaign (the product data) and the sheer number of output channels have made the process difficult, if not impossible to manage.

We still need well-designed, visually persuasive results, but the “ingredients” of a campaign (the product data) and the sheer number of output channels have made the process difficult, if not impossible to manage.

For one thing, data about a product is never just in one, convenient place. It’s spread out over different product information management (PIM)digital asset management (DAM), inventory, pricing, and marketing management and other databases. Many of these are proprietary, or acquired during a merger, or just outdated. Now, multiply that by the number of products and product variants being sold.

Next, if a business has more than one location, chances are high that each store or region will have exceptions on price, inventory, or sales priority that will affect every marketing campaign. Each location deserves some level of autonomy—which will help them succeed—but the price of customization can’t be too high.

Finally, there seems to be a new communications channel invented every day. Retail and B2B marketers must cope with multiple platforms, devices, and media interactions – and still deliver a coherent, compelling message. It takes time—usually more than we have.

Real Marketing Production Automation

If you’re still with me, take heart. The challenges of marketing data automation can be addressed with the right approach, starting with Comosoft’s LAGO application. Its approach to marketing data automation, or LAGOmation for short, is based on years of experience and a stubborn determination not to fit neatly in any one software category.

  • LAGO has its own PIM system, but it can work with any PIM.
  • The same goes for DAM systems.
  • It can work with databases of any kind—small or large, open or proprietary, local or in the cloud.
  • It works extremely well with Adobe InDesign and other desktop design applications, but it’s not bound by those programs’ manual functions.
  • LAGO is a powerful, print automation system but can output to any digital publishing medium, like mobile apps or web shops.

You get the basic idea. LAGO lets marketing managers plan complex campaigns from complex data, wrangle that data from multiple sources, and automate product placements, exceptions, and channel output. This frees their designers from the drudgery (and cost) of creating umpteen different outputs and versions for umpteen output channels – focusing instead on creativity and innovation.

The benefits of LAGOmation have already been realized by major retailers and other businesses around the world, including several of the largest home improvement retailers and grocers in North America. Time and again, these companies have seen significant cost benefits from modernizing their marketing communications “assembly lines,” while also expanding their marketing reach through regional versioning and mobile channel content – all without adding staff resources.

Twenty-First Century Realities

Retail consumers’ expectations are expanding faster than any retailer can meet with traditional, largely manual techniques. Information must be immediate and personally relevant – on any medium and on demand. Retailers have a vast supply of data to go with their myriad product offerings, but all that data simply will not fit through the traditional “pipes” of marketing communication production. Only true automation will suffice.

LAGOmation, our unique approach to modernizing the marketing workflow, is a way to streamline that vital business process. We would be honored to begin that discussion – and find new ways to connect your data with your many customers.


Webinar: EPISODE III

Episode III: More Than Just Another Proofing Solution – Perform Last-Minute-Changes Without Rocking the Boat.

Join the final episode of our global webinar series showing a fully optimized circular production process with LAGO.

EPISODE III: 08. April – 4:00 pm CET | 3:00 pm GMT | 9:00 am CST | 10:00 am EST

The participation is free of charge. To register for our first webinar click on the button below.

Registration

 

The proofing process within a leaflet production is more than just asking for different page background or price adjustments. During the final days before pages are sent off to the printer, pretty much anything can happen. Product pricing or copy needs to be updated, images may change, products are moved to a new position or switched for a complete new product. When adding regional and/or store specific variants into the mix, the complexity grows even more and the communication needed to perform all these changes starts to become one of the biggest time sinks in your whole production process. This is why LAGO Proof is more than just a simple proofing solution to add comments asking for a different page background. Learn how LAGO Proof in conjunction with LAGO Whiteboard are solving all of the above challenges. Price updates 5 minutes before files are sent to printer? It’s not science fiction. It’s reality!

  • Easy to use proofing application
  • Overview of complete leaflet including all regional and/or store specific leaflet variants
  • Automatic price updates, triggering an update of price mechanics on the InDesign page based on business rules
  • Reposition, removal or adding of products throughout the production process
  • Automatic creation or removal of regional and/or store specific leaflet variants based on data changes

We are looking forward to seeing you there!


Webinar: EPISODE II

Building Bridges Between Category Management and Marketing – Tear Down Your Communication Walls and Optimize Your Workflow!

Join the second episode of our global webinar series showing a fully optimized circular production process with LAGO.

EPISODE II: 25. March4:00 pm CET | 3:00 pm GMT | 9:00 am CST | 10:00 am EST

The participation is free of charge. To register for our first webinar click on the button below.

Registration

 

The handover of information related to the planning of a circular from category management to marketing or external design agencies is a crucial step within the production process. Lack of information or mistakes can result in delays and/or higher costs down the road. Usually close monitoring by multiple people is needed. Learn how the connection of LAGO Whiteboard –  the application for digital circular planning – and LAGO Layout – the most powerful Adobe InDesign plugin on the market – ensures that the information flow is not interrupted as well as the automatic layout generator from LAGO greatly improves the speed of page layout & design.
  • Direct integration between LAGO Whiteboard and LAGO Layout
  • Consistent data flow between category management and design team
  • Automatic layout creation using smart templates
  • Placeholder technology to automatically display pricing, copy and everything related to a product within Adobe InDesign
  • Automatic creation of regional and/or store specific variants for the design team

We are looking forward to seeing you there!


Webinar: EPISODE I

Kickstarting Your Digital Planning and Leaflet Production Process – Push Your Category Management Into the Future of Retail!

Join the first episode of our global webinar series showing a fully optimized circular production process with LAGO.

EPISODE I: 11. March4:00 pm CET | 3:00 pm GMT | 9:00 am CST | 10:00 am EST

The participation is free of charge. To register for our first webinar click on the button below.

Registration

 

Everything starts with the proper planning! A circular production process is no different. The category management plays the key role in assortment and product selection as well as assigning both to the individual pages of a leaflet. With growing numbers of products and increasing varieties as well as the market moving towards more regional or store specific leaflet variants, the need to perform this planning in a powerful digital environment becomes more important every day. Learn how LAGO Whiteboard enables category management to perform these tasks efficiently in one central application that is connected to your ERP system as well as the marketing department including the leaflet design and production in the downstream process.
  • Planning of leaflet in LAGO Whiteboard
  • Utilization of product data directly imported from ERP system
  • Planning of regional and/or store specific leaflet variants including switch-out products
  • Stickering: The easy way to see all product related data during the planning process, including historical sales data
  • Assignment of merchandise departments to page space allocations for a streamlined top-down planning process
  • Preview leaflet pages without handing them over to the design team

We are looking forward to seeing you there!


comosoft-lago-pim-dam-system-integrated-marketing-data-production

The Data Decathlon

How LAGO stands out among highly specialized DAM & PIM Systems

Some technology businesses are hard to classify. With its multi-faceted LAGO product, Comosoft embraces DAM, PIM, personalized marketing, publishing automation, and many other, interrelated technologies – in a way that defies easy categorization.

The 2020 Summer Olympics were both a casualty of the pandemic and, like many other traditions, a symbol of hope – assuming their 2021 reboot goes as planned. This time, there will be over 330 events in fifty sports disciplines, from aquatics through wrestling and everything in between.

Of all these sports, the decathlon is one of the more complex, combining ten different running, jumping, and throwing events. There are indeed more disparate-sounding competitions, like the marathon-swimming-biking “iron man” triathlon and the shooting-plus-skiing biathlon. Some of these seem like they were based on a dare. But the decathlon, like its Greek ancestor, the pentathlon, tops the list.

The main point of these combination events is that they defy specialization. Participants must compete in a wide, demanding range of events, each requiring a different set of skills. A decathlete may not out-perform a dedicated sprinter or pole vaulter; instead, they aspire to win in a larger, more complicated arena.

Data “Techathletes”

When it comes to technology, few companies fit the decathlon model. Under the hood, large tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon are actually a collection of smaller business units, united in some ways but mostly focused on doing a specific thing well – or maybe not so well. Data-oriented companies and service providers in particular need to focus on a single, well-defined field of expertise. Disciplines like digital asset management (DAM) and product information management (PIM) are complex and demanding all by themselves.

The challenge was to wrangle vast amounts of interrelated PIM and DAM data, keep it organized, and efficiently render it in dense, versioned, multi-page catalogs—where a single mistake could cost a retailer thousands of dollars.

Occasionally, however, a company or platform achieves a multi-disciplinary level of achievement. System integrators in particular learn to master more than one data process, since their job is literally to make one business system work well with another. One such company, combining its dedicated software with a deep “bench” of integration expertise, is Hamburg and Dallas-based Comosoft.

Founded in 1994, the company developed a multichannel media and data system, originally for an equally complex medium: consumer product and business catalogs. The challenge was to wrangle vast amounts of interrelated PIM and DAM data, keep it organized, and efficiently render it in dense, versioned, multi-page catalogs – where a single mistake could cost a retailer thousands of dollars.

Over the years, Comosoft’s LAGO platform became more versatile, as its staff became more adept at integrating different systems and transitioning from print to online and mobile output. It incorporated direct individualized marketing (DIM) to meet its clients’ need for more direct, one-to-one messaging based on customer preferences. It also had to meet increasing demands for greater automation and efficiency. In other words, the company had become a data decathlete.

Apples and Orchards

With this success came some unique challenges of perception. The company was often compared to specialized DAM and PIM developers, especially in web searches. Following each successful marketing campaign, would-be competitors’ pay-per-click campaigns surged, using keywords that said, in effect, “We’re just as good as Comosoft at DAM (or PIM, or…).” It was a compliment of sorts, but it missed the point. Comosoft and its product compared favorably with developers of DAM, PIM, and other systems, but it was harder to see the company’s full scope. There were plenty of search terms for “apples” but not many for the whole orchard.

For a relatively small firm, this meant it was harder to gain the attention of clients who really needed a wide-spectrum solution. Faced with new challenges like the pandemic, retailers and manufacturers had to find new ways of communicating – turning their enormous, often disjointed piles of data into targeted, effective communication.

This was not only a perception issue. The company could not simply say they covered all the required disciplines. They also had to live up to that rigorous standard. Like actual decathletes, the Comosoft team had to master and keep up with multiple disciplines. This “intensive training” in the field was also reflected in their software platform. LAGO had to grow and change – not just for the sake of adding new features, but to compete in many different “races” at the same time.

Gold Medal Results

Increasingly, Comosoft has been winning the event, and not solely based on its DAM and PIM expertise. Rather, their success was based on their ability to do more than one “event” – to run, jump, and throw, so to speak.

Most of Comosoft’s success stories began as a complex set of needs. Large retailers in particular were not looking for a single-solution DAM or PIM system. In fact, most already had systems in place. The problem was that the systems did not work efficiently together or were encumbered by manual workarounds and legacy systems. In other words, they needed a data decathlete.

Faced with the growing pains of its stores’ success—complicated by many regional variations and a recent merger—the company relies on LAGO and Comosoft’s integration expertise to “transform a mass-market channel into a one-to-one connection.”

The is a case in point. Faced with the growing pains of its stores’ success – complicated by many regional variations and a recent merger – the company relies on LAGO and Comosoft’s integration expertise to “transform a mass-market channel into a one-to-one connection.” Today, Bass Pro automatically manages thousands of individual SKUs in its multichannel marketing efforts, including hundreds of regional variants, using LAGO.

Another striking example is Comosoft’s success with the . The company’s goals—to streamline its complex, in-store flyer program and provide store-specific data to its mobile shopping app was met by the Comosoft team, in tandem with its integration partner, PureRED. Following a series of diverse, successful milestones, Lowe’s had a multichannel marketing approach to be proud of.

The Finish Line

In today’s world of big data “versus” the need to offer personalized marketing communication, there is little room for a single-technology solution. Only an agile, multi-faceted technology company can run all the different “races” necessary to achieve success. Fortunately, for retailers and manufacturers with tons of product and marketing data, Comosoft is the right sort of digital athlete.

 


Database Publishing with the bi-directional approach

Database Publishing: How the Bi-directional Approach Helps You Optimally Connect Datasets and Documents

Since the invention of “mail merge” in 1980, companies have developed new and better ways to personalize their documents by using multiple data sources and smart technologies to create customized catalogs and other materials.

To know where multichannel marketing is going, we need to travel back in time and understand what technological advances have changed our processes since then.

The Print Publishing Evolution
In the 1980s, people in general, and especially in the print industry, had the idea that personal computers would make our lives much easier. Forty-one years later we can see, here with the example of database publishing, whether this idea was correct or whether too much was expected of it. At the beginning of the decade, the cumbersome, costly, manual process was done with cameras, scanners, litho film, pull-off tables and Rubylith.

A short time later, Scitex became the digital system for high volume publications, job costs of over $1 million were not uncommon.

By the end of the decade, design software, image editing software and PostScript were used for this production, making the old methods of producing a printed page obsolete.

Database Publishing
While publishing technologies improved by leaps and bounds, the information and data side proved more complex. Early on, we figured out how to merge data files with documents, from physical letters to packaging and shipping labels. More complex documents such as directories, technical manuals and telephone directories followed, allowing large amounts of data to be inserted into page layout templates.

But: consumer catalogues and product directories needed an exact product description AND a good design. Inflexible phone book style layouts were not enough. Users wanted to design layouts with the creative possibilities offered by QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign AND the ability to automatically insert text, images and prices from a database.

Versioning and regionalisation of listings
The development of online marketplaces and shopping apps increased the pressure on advertisers to create a smart system where ads are as personalised as possible. Digital tools began to facilitate this process. Data flowed from large, interconnected databases to pre-determined locations on the printed page. This, of course, in turn opened up the possibility for even more complex workflows, such as adapting versioned, vertically aligned catalogues to different regions of the country, or even personalising each copy through digital printing.

But: the data flow was usually only in one direction. Complete automation could thus be achieved at the expense of flexibility. Last-minute changes to the product description, such as special prices, size or colour changes, or even simple spelling corrections, could only be made with some effort at the user level.

Cloud-based software systems
Other technical innovations affecting entire IT landscapes were also gaining momentum in database publishing. The rise of cloud-based software systems meant that all these databases and associated applications were moved from on-site servers to the cloud. On the one hand, this involved long-term cost savings (no more investing in large servers!). After the decision for cloud-based software, it is up to the IT department to ensure the necessary connection of interfaces to a PIM and DAM system, as well as the guarantee of information security in this strategic step (on the other hand, this means an additional expenditure of human resources).

Multichannel Software LAGO
In the 1990s, Comosoft began to address this problem by connecting database content to QuarkXPress documents, using QuarkXPress’ XTension approach. This soon evolved into a broader systems approach, now known as LAGO. Over time, LAGO encompassed several different types of applications, including Product Information Management (PIM), Digital Asset Management (DAM), marketing campaign management and other important systems. Meanwhile, in print publishing, LAGO focuses primarily on Adobe InDesign and InDesign Server for page design, giving it a prominent position in database publishing.

What differentiates LAGO from other database publishing systems is that it is not a one-way street of data into the digital publishing ecosystem. Users can make necessary changes or adjustments within the normal process in a time-saving manner without destroying previous design adjustments.

Not only in print publishing (e.g. catalogue and flyer production) does LAGO make your processes efficient, but our consultants also design a customised solution with LAGO for your digital output.


LAGO IN ACTION – Success story at RAJA Media

LAGO IN ACTION – Success story at RAJAMedia

Seeing our LAGO software in action with our customers is of course a special pleasure for us at Comosoft. Since July 8th, 16 country representatives (FR, BE, DE, AT, CH, NL, ES, IT, PT, UK, NO, SE, DK, PL, CZ, SK) have been integrated into the LAGO WEB environment at RAJAMedia and have thus already reached the production stage.
The changeover to a new production software is a challenge for every company, but in 2020 it is associated with further special features for companies worldwide due to the corona pandemic. It makes us especially proud that we have managed to hold the last trainings with RAJAMedia successfully online and thus lead RAJAMedia into the future production of their advertising material with LAGO. The next big goal is the deployment of LAGO Print in order to be able to produce the printed catalog completely in LAGO in addition to the web catalog.
With the production in LAGO and the introduction of a new advertising material production, RAJAMedia reaches a new level in its conversion to agile processes:
  • RAJA achieves higher efficiency and productivity of the users
  • You can include user requests in the development process
  • Users save time by automating recurring tasks
  • This enables you to focus on tasks with the highest added value
  • User requests are structured and stored in a central and homogeneous backlog for further development


Remote working teams in retail

From Chaos to Clarity

Finding the right “Power Tools” like PIM- and DAM systems for pricing & inventory data management

As the need to work remotely expands, retail marketers are searching for more powerful, integrated systems to manage their product pricing, inventory, and other complex asset management systems.

Retailers have always relied on data to manage their complex relationships with suppliers and customers. Marketers and planners must constantly juggle and connect big amounts of complex information with pinpoint accuracy. The data reside in multiple, often separate sources, from retail PIM and DAM systems to databases that handle pricing and inventory. Navigating all that data is difficult.

As the “new normal” for business becomes clearer, it is likely that more and more information workers will be operating remotely. And without the benefits of working in the same office space as their peers and support staff, product marketing managers need a new set of “power tools.” From any location, they must be able to easily manage all required data, and use it effectively in focused campaigns.

Having the right price data in your PIM system can make all the difference in a highly-competitive promotion

The rapid shift to remote data operations follows a decades-old transition to online business in general. The rise of e-commerce, and of consumers’ detailed, mobile-driven awareness of competitive options, has made product pricing of paramount importance. Having the right price for a single product – among hundreds of thousands of SKUs – can make all the difference in a highly-competitive promotion. When you add regional store variations, current margins, and last-minute sales or discounts, the pricing question can be challenging indeed.

Databases for current pricing can be connected to the retailer’s PIM system – or not. They can be hosted in the cloud – or not. Nearly always, they are custom-built by IT specialists who may still work for the company – or not. Pricing systems often have plenty of legacy system issues to make life difficult for the product marketing person charged with creating accurate campaigns.

A lot depends on accurate pricing. With razor-thin margins and high customer expectations, errors are a potential for serious financial chaos. Fortunately, advanced systems such as LAGO can create live connections between pricing data, product information, and multiple, versioned promotions, whether intended for print or online campaigns.

The “last mile” connection to a marketing automation or print production system is crucial for success

Another challenge to remote retail marketing is the state of the company’s inventory. The supply chain disruptions of the past few months have taught us that shortages can take us by surprise and lead to customer dissatisfaction. Like pricing, current inventory levels of every product are critical to data-driven marketing campaigns. Knowing how to describe and price a specific product is hard enough. Knowing how many (or how few) are available in a given branch location is even harder. Like pricing, inventory data are stored in a secure database – sometimes separate from the company’s PIM system, but usually integrated with it. However, for many retailers, the “last mile” connection to a marketing automation or print production system is usually less than perfect.

In order to create successful, sustainable marketing campaigns, retail marketing professionals need real-time access to inventory data, instantly correlated to specific products in every location. They not only need the data at their fingertips; they also need it whether they are working in the office or off-site.

Remote working increases the need for central data storage, that is accessible from anywhere

Many retailers today are exceptionally large corporations with major investments in IT, logistics, and access to media channels of every type. Marketing teams tend to be smaller, more agile teams, ready to respond quickly to shifting local conditions and implement campaigns responsive to local conditions. Think of the corporation proper as the aircraft carrier and the marketing teams as its squadrons of jets or helicopters. They must spring into action at a moment’s notice – in response to a tactical situation or a call for disaster relief. But the jets and helicopters, as fast-moving as they are, cannot function without the resources of the mother ship.

Marketing professionals absolutely need all the data that the mother ship possesses, but they need it in an environment that allows them to remain agile, ready to respond instantly to changing market conditions. They need a dashboard view of all the data, plus the means to deliver precisely targeted campaigns at the local level. The rise of remote working as the “new normal” has only heightened this need. Even in the chaos of today’s retail world, they can maintain their success – if they have the right tools for the job.


Digital Output – The True Potential

The True Potential of Digital Output

Retail grocers are an integral part of a force now fighting the effects of COVID-19. With vital supplies threatened by supply chain and consumer behavior disruption, having the correct data in the right place is critical to their success.

An army marches on its stomach. It’s simple. No great enterprise can succeed if its participants cannot meet their basic, physiological needs – in this case, food. In modern times, supplying that need requires a complicated network of producers, distributors, and retailers – things that most of us rarely think about.

The army part of the metaphor is very apt. As of this writing, the entire world is engaged in in a fight against the novel coronavirus, and the disease it causes. As with all fights, there are front-line fighters (researchers, healthcare workers, and first responders), supporting forces, and civilians doing their part. In this particular fight, a big part of the “supporting forces” are the grocery retailers we once took for granted.

Accelerated Change for Grocery Retailers

In a previous article, we outlined the shifts in consumer behavior pushing grocery retailers to alter their ways of doing business, including the rise of mobile shopping apps and innovative pickup or delivery options. But what was considered experimental a few short months ago has become mainstream almost overnight. Shopping convenience has been replaced by a more powerful motive.

The sudden but very reasonable fear of infection has led to strict, disease-containment measures — not just masks, distancing, and one-way store aisles, but also a rush to online ordering, curbside pickup, and at-home delivery. One Comosoft client executive at a major chain noted recently that grocery pickup and deliveries had increased by 130% per week since mid-March. Senior store managers are working the floor alongside associates, busy filling orders for curbside pickup.

All this not a new phenomenon; it is simply a change in velocity. Mobile apps are no longer merely convenient; they are becoming essential.

It’s Still All About the Data

Back in the old days (as in last month), the process of grocery marketing was driven by vast, complex collections of data: product images, descriptions, prices, inventory, and marketing priorities. It still is. We published several articles describing how all these data can be effectively managed and channeled into printed and online media for the benefit of shoppers and retailers alike.

Today, however, those channels and the way we use them have shifted dramatically. Shoppers, focused on getting in and out quickly and efficiently, pay little or no attention to in-store flyers and circulars. By far, mobile shopping apps and, to a lesser extent, non-mobile websites have taken center stage in the grocery shopping experience.

The medium has shifted but the consumer need is still the same. Shoppers must find what they need, “see” it, estimate its value, and make a purchase decision. The grocery retailer’s mobile app needs to present all the available products, prices, and descriptions accurately—and be ready to communicate changes when something is out of stock or limited to one item per customer. Shopping apps are ideal for this, but only if all the data are effectively and efficiently utilized.

Digital Output

Fortunately, such data integration potential already exists, in systems such as LAGO. Data from multiple, often separately-developed DAM, PIM, and other databases can be effectively automated and coordinated to produce well-designed, multi-version printed pieces, using a plugin for Adobe InDesign. But print is only part of the story. LAGO also automates the output of overlays and XML data required by mobile shopping apps. Digital output for app use is automatic and, for the most part, can reach the consumer far faster than the more familiar printed circular.

This has enormous implications, not just for the immediate crisis but long afterwards. When there’s a sudden change in inventory for a particular household item, the retailer’s marketing team can rely on the mobile app – fed by new digital output – to inform and guide the consumer. Product marketing teams will still need to develop marketing campaigns, but these will be aided rather than hindered by the flow of interrelated data.

In other words, the crisis has accelerated a trend that was already well under way: using integrated data to connect the needs of retailers and consumers alike. Companies that have already begun the integration journey are better prepared for the change in velocity.

The New Normal

Like all major crises, this one will someday be over. We will get back to normal, but “normal” itself will be different. People will once again enjoy social gatherings including, as trends indicate, at increasingly destination-oriented grocery retailers. The difference will be in how the retailer augments the total shopping experience using available data.

Intelligent digital output will be the key to that experience – not just getting shoppers to buy the daily specials but also enhancing the consumer’s connection and loyalty to the brand. Whether the data are expressed in interactive kiosks, signage, interactive apps, or in printed collateral, their accuracy and relevance to individual shoppers will be paramount.

The future depends on digital output – and the preparedness of companies to use it wisely.