Case Study: United Stationers Has Versioning Down
United Stationers, a distributor of office supplies and other merchandise, has been producing various levels of versioned print catalogs for the past 10 years. Its clients, which include about 5,000 resellers ranging from mom-and-pop neighborhood stores to national chains such as Staples, use the catalogs to sell products to end-users.
For this Des Plaines, IL-based wholesaler, versioning is need-driven. “We have so many resellers with different marketing needs that we must satisfy,” explains Jeff Kressman, director of marketing communications and research.
United Stationers produces the following types of print catalog versions:
1. A standardized catalog with customized covers denoting the contact information for each dealer.
2. Catalogs with different prices. United Stationers prints its catalogs web offset, so this second type of versioning requires just one plate change on press.
“Any dealer can price any product in the catalog in any way they want,” explains Kressman. “Prices for our products will be different in Boston than they are in Tulsa, Oklahoma. So we have a standard catalog template, but then in a plate change on press, we swap out prices for different resellers.”
3. Catalogs with both customized prices and product selection. In this type of versioning, dealers can select not just the prices they want to charge their own end-users, but also which products to feature in their customized catalogs.
Following is a brief overview of how United Stationers and its print partner, Quebecor World, manage the challenge of producing literally thousands of versioned and customized catalogs every year.
Riding Herd on the Process
For versioning level No. 2 (price changes), United Stationers electronically sends to a reseller a merchandise pricing model based on its own research of product sales in that particular reseller’s region. The reseller can modify the pricing schedule by telling the cataloger what prices he or she wants to charge end-users for United Stationers’ products.