The step after data enrichment consists of inserting the product information (data) into the publication’s layout. This step can be done manually or with catalog automation software. Let’s first examine how the manual process works, and then how the workflow can be made faster and easier with an automated process.
The manual process is usually done by graphic designers and takes a lot of time and effort. The copy-paste activity (from the spreadsheet to the catalog) must be accurate, as any inaccuracies can cause very serious errors, especially if they are present in sensitive fields such as the price section.
Below is a step-by-step outline of the activities related to a manual publishing workflow:
- The product marketing and graphics departments plan a framework for the product layout and content.
- Product marketing submits all the product information that needs to be inserted in the catalog call-by-call to the graphics department in all the conceivable ways (initial Excel files, emails, Post-it Notes, PDF revisions, photocopies of paper-based revisions, midnight phone calls).
- The graphics department is in charge of fitting this information into a coherent and intelligible document. Given their control over the “last mile” of catalog production, they are often called in to fill in random voids of information at the last minute.
- Revision approval cycles follow, new products and lines are added, and the cycle repeats itself all over again.
> The workflow of the manual publishing process
Automatic publishing with a catalog automation solution
The automatic process is driven by catalog automation software. These tools allow you to automatically create catalogs by extracting data from ERP, PIM, e-commerce, or spreadsheets and inserting them into a layout following your industry-specific publishing rules.
Below are the activities related to publishing a document using a catalog automation solution or InDesign catalog automation software.
- The marketing team and graphics department create the document layout they want to automate. This layout, usually an InDesign file, is implemented in the cloud database publishing software.
- Each time an updated version of the document is required, it’s only necessary to upload the new related data file to the cloud; the new document is automatically created in both InDesign and PDF formats in a few seconds. A real-time preview (PDF) is easily viewable directly on the browser:
- The static parts of the documents—usually the ones that are not being updated often—remain hand-made and are uploaded to the Cloud. These include the front and back covers, introduction pages, advertisement pages, terms and conditions, and so on. These parts are automatically assembled along with the dynamic parts that are created after pulling the information from the data files.
- The dynamic parts include the catalog’s table of contents, product pages, and chapter separators.
When using the automatic approach, documents are 100% complete and always ready to publish both online or as hard copies.
This is the workflow Pagination’s cloud database publishing service follows.
> The workflow with a catalog automation solution