The Art of Science
Problem: Before Ward’s Natural Science could expand its catalog operations to the Internet, it needed to develop a central repository for the accompanying data for its more than 18,000 products.
Solution: Ward’s installed Pindar Systems’ content management system. Data for all products are now stored in one central database.
Results: Ward’s launched an e-commerce site that has resulted in increased overall sales; employees have saved significant time in their data-management processes; and Ward’s was able to reduce two full-time positions.
When executives at Ward’s Natural Science decided to expand the catalog operations to the Internet, they knew they’d need one central product database to ease the job of multichannel marketing. The Rochester, NY-based provider of educational science products, which sells mostly to teachers, previously had been working from assorted smaller databases that contained information on more than 18,000 products.
“We’d create a new database every time we revised a section of the catalog,” explains Bryan Kommeth, e-business marketing manager at Ward’s. “Each revision ended up being a ‘one-time use’ sort of thing.”
With product-data existing in various databases, employees were entering and updating data (e.g., images, copy, pricing) multiple times — an inefficient process that often led to accuracy problems.
Ward’s publishes three annual catalogs: a 1,300-page biology and chemistry catalog; a 500-page geology catalog; and a 500-page middle school science catalog. It also produces flyers and smaller catalogs (16 to 64 pages).
Kommeth says that maintaining data accuracy for all products was virtually unmanageable with the old patchwork system. In addition to database updates, product information also had to be changed on all QuarkXPress documents for each catalog. And since designers didn’t have database access, they were forced to work from hard copies.
While Ward’s executives were researching various solutions, the company was bought by VWR International, which was a client of Pindar Systems, a content management solutions (CMS) provider. Having already been interested in Pindar’s CMS, Ward’s quickly seized the opportunity to implement the Pindar solution.