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Testimonial: How Lancaster optimizes the management of its products catalog with Akeneo PIM and PIMGento


Currently, our customer has chosen to integrate the solution Akeneo PIM to its Magento eCommerce platform, Lancaster has always been keen to innovate both in its products and its digital strategy.
That’s why when we proposed them to use the PIM (Product Information Management) Akeneo to optimize the daily management of their products library edited more than 1 year and a half, they did not hesitate one second.
In order to still more improve the use of Akeneo with Magento, Lancaster was also the first company to use our PIMGento connector particularely developed for the most efficient interaction between the two solutions.
After several months of Akeneo use, it seemed appropriate to revisit the genesis of the project and the daily benefits found by by teams. So we interrogated Pauline Laurent Webmaster eCommerce Lancaster Paris for 4 years.


Could you please introduce yourself about your role in Lancaster ?

I’m Pauline Laurent, Head of eCommerce site Lancaster for 4 years. I deal, among other things, the creation and maintenance of the online library, customer service, billing and inventory management.
Lancaster is a French leather goods brand running for about 20 years, present in more than 800 multi-brand distributors, in department stores, in independant stores and also on the web since 2009. We work in partnership with the Agency Dn’D since 2010 and Akeneo for just over a year.
The web team always followed technological developments and try to be at the top on the internet and in the field of eCommerce (whether technically, graphically and ergonomically level). We are permanently on board to improve our site with Magento and its daily use.
Lancaster spirit is always to produce internally. So we have different departments that interact to the best functioning of eCommerce website. Despite this wish and in relation with the permanent growing activity of the site, we decided to outsource logistics.

Could you introduce the operation of your eCommerce site?

We work in multi-store mode with Magento Entreprise Edition. We manage a European eCommerce website and another one in the US. Both shops do not have the same targets or the same products on sale.

The site content comes from various sources (ERP, photo dpt., different CSV files supplied by information collected on physical products …).
This information is then redirected to different channels (online shops, logistics, Criteo, Google Shopping …).
These ways have different needs. Thus, it is not necessary to send all the information to all channels. For example, our logistics department needs only the reference, the EAN and the weight of a product. However the weight is not used by Criteo.

By time we need to build and expand 1,200 references.

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What difficulties did you meet before the implementation of PIM?

Before the implementation of PIM, the creation of these references was done by hand with a lot of copy / paste. The accuracy of such information was subject to human actions, so this meant mistakes, inconsistencies and omissions.
Creating product sheets was done progressively and could take up to two months depending on the tasks to be done in parallel.
So, the collection appeared on the site over the days. We were facing a significant shortfall when some of our competitors or dealers of the brand proposed a not yet available product for sale on our website.
Same, in the case of sales, for example, we had to “stand by” the site the day before to change the prices and prepare the category in promotion.

What PIM has improved the management of your catalog and what were the first positive effects?

Currently, we only use the PIM on the web channel (eCommerce and eMarketing). We use it in connection with Magento for managing product catalogs sites and also as a connector with the various web marketing levers we use (Google Shopping, Criteo …).
The first positive effects of the implementation of PIM Akeneo, is that now we have a clean and safe common information base we can trust for our various media.
The power of eCommerce sites, for example, is faster. This is especially a heavy workload upstream of the development of the collection. Once the information is collected from various services, product sheets extend can be done very quickly.
Another very positive point is the possibility of instantly overwhelmingly changing product sheets.

How PIM has he been adopted by your teams?

Currently, the PIM is used daily by 2 persons in our team. Moreover periodically, 5 people interact with the module. We have also set up a dozen automatic incoming and outgoing flows of the platform in order to supply or dispatcher the information to channels.
In our teams, the PIM is the first revolution in data management.

How could you describe the grip of PIM?

Near of PIM use by our teams, it’s pretty simple. We work with several permission levels. Part of the team is only involved with the filling of product sheets and another part is also working on the framework of the PIM and the imports / exports.
Most important during the implementation of the PIM is to clearly define the needs. The proper definition of attributes, channels, fields and field types present on the PIM are essential for evolution to be effective.
For example, in our case, we had ill-defined fields that should be translated / converted between the European website and the American one. So we started with the type « Text » fields for data corresponding to the measurements. As to the use of PIM, we were aware that these fields would be easier to use if they were of the type « Measurement unit » with automatic conversion of centimeters to inches.
It is a real preliminary work of the project to optimize the enrichment of the catalog.

What features of the PIM that you find most interesting?

Right now, for me, the real advantage provided by the PIM is the graphic visualization of the catalog filling levels.
For example, to see if the data required for the operation of logistics are all indicated. Being able to see whether the information needed to operate the USA website are complete. Being able to see, on the current time, what are the files for which photos are missing or what are missing details to check before the product can be insert our back office.

Depending on the required attributes defined by channels, we can quickly realize the rate of completion of each reference and the entire catalog. And ultimately realize that for a channel, everything is completed (the plugs are 100% completeness), and for another, photos are missing (plugs are 91% completeness).
What is also very useful is the ability to filter attributes. The use of filters and CSV export filtered data also allow mass enrich the catalog, and it’s a real revolution.

Finally, the use of the IMP allows many tasks automation which previously were manual and time consuming.
For some data, it also avoids errors. The PIM allows different end users to have the same information base without risk of error. (For example, in our case, the price of a product directly from the incoming flow of ERP, so it is true for all channels. Before, it was copied by hand and therefore could be wrong).
This also allows the enrichment of catalog to several persons who are not only involved in a part of the information. The photos are, for example, powered by our photo department.

And what can you say about PIMGento?

When we set up the PIM Akeneo on our website, we encountered several difficulties during updates of sheets with Magento. We were facing to very important delays during import. For the initial import of whole sheets last September, we had to take several hours to import.
When Dn’D Agency has developed the PIMGento connector, it was a second revolution. We are now able to make global changes on sheets in a few minutes.
The process is comprehensive and easy to handle. Steps are easy to follow step by step.

What is your conclusion?

Overall Akeneo is ergonomic and does not require advanced technical knowledge. So we went from an archaic and manual catalog management to a rapid and automated way, that leaves us more time to work content and to develop new on our sites.

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