As French leather and luxury goods firm Lancaster grew from its modest founding in the 1990s, it realized that it needed to leverage its strong history of innovation to improve one critical business area: product information management. Lancaster, which operates its own shops and e-commerce, and is supported by a network of 800 distributors, outgrew its previous approach to PIM as business expanded. The company produces 1.5 million products per year and maintains a global presence in 60 countries through 1,000 stores.
Naturally, when optimizing its online catalog became a challenge, implementing a PIM solution emerged as an obvious choice, and it became part of redesigning the website with partner Magento. Like many brands, Lancaster operates multiple e-commerce sites – one in Europe and one in the United States – each with different product catalogs and objectives. With this comes a multi-source challenge: product information flows from various sources such as ERP, photo services, or CSV files. What’s more, Lancaster also relies on other platforms than its e-commerce sites, such as Google Shopping and Criteo, for some product info. Each channel requires specific information to be exported each time.
Before deploying its new PIM platform, Lancaster had to create product references manually — a tedious and time-consuming task. Products were published one by one on the e-commerce website, which was an obvious drawback against the competition, or even with resellers as they could offer products before their availability on the website.
Lancaster wanted a PIM platform that could meet two key objectives:
1. Optimize the creation and enrichment of product datasheets on the website, in terms of speed to remain competitive and information reliability to reduce human actions required to transfer information. The goal was to reduce errors, inconsistencies and omissions that cause numerous and repetitive manipulations.
2. Simultaneously update all channels used by the e-commerce website and web marketing activities while complying with the requirements of each channel.
Armed with precisely defined requirements, Lancaster and Akeneo executed the PIM project. Now data is directly imported from the ERP and enriched by various sources, and is then exported to the Magento website and to the various web marketing activities. About 10 incoming and outgoing data feeds enter the platform or dispatch information to the channels. Lancaster has defined several levels of permissions and uses advanced rights management to distribute tasks among various contributors, and delegate catalog enrichment tasks among several people, each editing only part of the information. The right definition of attributes, channels and fields increase ease of use, for example offering the ability to automatically convert measurement units for different countries.
With Akeneo PIM, Lancaster has a clean and reliable information database for various media to rely upon. Creation of the product catalog now takes much less time. For example, a task that would previously take up to two months is now reduced by 80 percent. Finally, modifying products is now almost instantaneous using mass updates. The PIM allows different users access to the same product information without the risk of error. Automated tasks also contributed to increase information quality on all sales channels and brought significant productivity gains with data processing.
“Akeneo PIM makes us much more responsive, allowing us to provide the most up-to-date product information, regardless of the channel,” says Pauline Laurent, former Lancaster e-commerce manager. “We went from an archaic and manual catalog management system to a fast and automated solution.”