MM: Great result! So take us through what the merchandiser did with page-profit analysis.
TM: One of the things that we saw immediately that was advantageous when you think about the fact that all it is – is data. You used to look at a Quark or InDesign page—and say, “Okay. That’s a design page. Type in the information. Import a picture.”
Once the mindset or paradigm shift happened, people started looking at that as data. Then you started saying, “You know what? There’s other data we might want to be able to look at on this page, after we’ve already sent the page to the printer.”
If you can populate data on a page in a price table, does there have to be a price? No.
It could be the amount of sales for that particular SKU or that particular product grouping. Or it could be the number of units that were sold that year. All you have to do is change the data field that it’s pulling to the page.
MM: In the current state, Tom, you had merchandisers that would own a particular category or categories of product. With a felt-tip pen, they overwrote on a print catalog page the quarter or the beginning inventory position, end inventory position, items sold, gross revenues.
TM: Sales and gross profits. And they would actually be looking at a green bar, writing information into a catalog—sometimes using the spreadsheet on their screen to compile data if they needed to compile it. Because the green bar wouldn’t do that.
Each of the product managers would be doing this. So there were five product managers that would spend two to four weeks every cycle populating their pages in their catalog.
All of the product managers wanted to have all of the information, so they’d switch books and they’d mark up somebody else’s book—until all five product managers had all five master books marked up with that information—hand-written.
MM: So the idea then in the future-state is, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we took a PDF or the InDesign document that had the 900-page document and simply did an automated overlay?” A data overlay from the database of beginning inventory position—end inventory position—gross revenues—profits—returns. Simply just published directly—almost as a transparency or an overlay to the actual thing on the page.
TM: Absolutely. That’s exactly what we did. We could do that in the course of a weekend.
MM: With that kind data without the effort, merchandisers could begin to understand patterns and correlate particular presentations or configurations of products that produce a “lift,” in terms of increased sales. Thus, they could begin to understand, “If I put that product here, I get a 3% bump. If I put that same product over here, then I take a 5% hit.”
TM: Yes. There are additional modules that you can get that even do more forecasting than those types of simple analyses, too.
MM: Such as?
TM: It’ll say, “If you put it in the upper right-hand quarter or the lower left-hand corner.” Or, “Is it on the first page of the section or is it on the cover, too?” “Is it on the back cover? Is it on the inside front cover?” “Are you presenting it on the web differently? Are you even presenting it on the web?” There are lots of different ways to look at that type of data.
MM: So then as you develop the future-state capability, you started to really define work-cells that enable you and your automation team to really optimize the productivity of individual workers. Did I get that right?