Growing E-Commerce With Print? Yes, Please.
Life without e-commerce is inconceivable today. Even in a retail store or shopping mall, it’s common to reach for our phones to compare prices or check on the availability of something in a different color or size. Brick-and-mortar store managers may resent it, but mobile e-commerce is here to stay.
But it’s also no surprise that retailers continue evolving their marketing strategies, supporting a consistent customer experience across every channel. Both brand identity and product promotion details must be consistent, regardless of the device or medium is used. That requirement is essential to marketing and advertising directors – and the production and creative managers who get the job done – whenever they coordinate retail campaigns in their print and mobile shopping iterations.
Retailers are evolving their marketing strategies, supporting a consistent customer experience across every possible channel.
Faced with the need to optimize marketing spending, retailers are expanding and enhancing their traditional print advertising strategy. Weekly circulars and product catalogs are no longer just standalone elements. They now must be totally in sync with their mobile shopping app counterparts. All the elements of a featured product – images, brand elements, even color and size choices – must be consistent across every channel and customer experience, even down to the local store level.
Print must also serve as a “launching pad” for the e-commerce experience.
Even more critical, the printed elements of a campaign must also serve as a “launching pad” for the mobile e-commerce experience. Catalogs, circulars, and flyers can no longer be merely informative and persuasive displays. They must also make it easy for customers to order products on the spot. Of course, the easiest way to do that is to print a QR Code next to the featured product, but doing so efficiently can be challenging.
It’s All In the Data
QR Codes can be generated easily for each product SKU and then stored, like any other image, in a Digital Asset Management or DAM system. Each code can take the catalog or flyer reader directly to the retailer’s e-commerce ordering page for that specific product, dramatically shortening the sales cycle and providing immediate feedback on the print campaign’s effectiveness.
But while the print-to-e-commerce-purchase cycle is easy to understand, it can be difficult to implement on a large scale. With dozens or hundreds of SKUs in every print marketing campaign, plus the need for multiple regional versions of each printed piece, it takes a lot of work to keep all that DAM and Product Information Management (PIM) data straight. It’s also a challenge for designers to manually assemble all that data and imagery into a single ad – not to mention a catalog or flyer featuring multiple products.
The print-to-e-commerce-purchase cycle can be difficult to implement on a large scale.
With LAGO, designers can easily and automatically assemble all elements of a SKU—including the QR Code.
Fortunately, the LAGO system was designed to do precisely that. Using an InDesign plugin, called LAGO Layout, designers can easily and automatically assemble all the PIM and DAM elements related to any SKU in the retailer’s marketing campaign, focusing their time on designing the catalog or flyer—and not hunting for all the pieces. One of those “pieces” in the DAM system can easily be the QR Code for that SKU. Thus, the designer doesn’t have to test or worry about whether the QR Code is correct. They focus on design.
LAGO can do even more than that, of course. For example, if a retailer needs to create different versions of a piece with regional price or product variations, doing so is simple and effective. And because LAGO’s digital output supports versioned pages, including product hotspots and QR Codes, even complex, multi-region retailers can easily transition their print campaigns to digital, creating content for multiple channels with data that increasingly resides in the cloud.
On Beyond Print
Once a print layout is created in LAGO – for a single catalog or multiple regional versions – the journey is not over. All the related PIM and DAM data can also populate e-commerce websites and mobile shopping apps. During the layout process, designers can designate product hotspots, which are not used in the printed output, naturally, which allow the online output to contain live links to the e-commerce ordering portal, to use just one example.
Product hotspots have many other uses, including triggering multiple image galleries, special offer overlays, size and color variations, alternate text descriptions, and more. These elements have the advantage of being connected to a product’s PIM and DAM data, so the designer need not spend hours figuring out how the online version will behave.
Product hotspots in LAGO can trigger image galleries or special offers, or take the user to the ordering portal.
The necessary PIM, DAM, and other data to required accomplish these tasks are increasingly located not in local servers but in the cloud. This is especially true for large, multi-region retailers but is also becoming the norm for marketing departments in every industry. Fortunately, LAGO and its components can easily be cloud-based, offering IT departments increased flexibility and scalability.
Once the main layout is created, LAGO can export the results to multiple formats, each appropriate to the required print or online channel. In addition, it can automatically generate XML and JPEG/PDF for selected pages based on the desired multichannel output workflow. With so many channels in constant need of consistent, well-formed content, LAGO has proven to be a reliable workhorse for retail marketing and advertising operations.
Data from complex, multi-version print campaigns can be used to populate powerful mobile shopping apps.
Finally, no discussion of multichannel marketing would be complete without mentioning the growing arena of dedicated retail shopping apps. Like all other online channels, shopping apps need to be constantly updated with the latest product information and marketing campaigns. Fortunately, LAGO can export all campaign data directly, including regional variations, to populate the retailer’s own website or mobile app, creating product location and pricing aids based on LAGO’s versioning capability. One such retailer, home improvement chain Lowe’s, used the LAGO system to create its multi-version printed flyers and, by exporting the resulting campaign data to third-party developer FLIPP, allowed them to create an extremely precise and effective mobile shopping app.
Print and online are not mutually exclusive, either-or choices for marketing and advertising directors and their teams. Used well, print is the perfect vehicle for enhancing and extending the interactive online shopping experience. By using the LAGO system, well-designed print output will attract and motivate shoppers and lead them to buy more frequently online – growing your e-commerce presence exponentially.