Increased Revenue and reduced costs thanks to automation

Increased corporate turnover in new markets via catalogues detailing the comprehensive product range in the respective national language: With this in mind, Schrack Technik, the Austrian specialist for energy engineering, lighting applications and data distribution relies on an automated solution for generating product catalogues and publishes 14 country-specific catalogues in just as many languages 4 times per year.

For Schrack, the unique competitive edge lies in the combination of high-quality products, technical competency and personal liaison and support. This is also evidenced by the fact that 60% of the employees work in sales or technical support. Contrary to many other providers, Schrack does not distribute their products via wholesale trade, but through their own field staff. Leading electrical installation companies, switch cabinet manufacturers, data technician specialists and industrial clients are amongst their customers. For this target group in particular, the traditional printed product catalogue, in addition to modern online offers is still indispensable.

Moreover, their strong presence in Central and Eastern Europe, where they have their own subsidiaries, impacts marketing processes: Building up strong customer communications in all countries is essential to being successful on these markets. Developing a strategy for a uniform product program in all countries constituted an immense challenge. As a rule, new products or catalogues were launched in the countries at entirely different speeds. Due to the fact that for all practical purposes, materials were manually compiled, capacities were stretched to the limit with 4 language variants.

Automation as the Key to Success

While searching for a solution, which automated the process of creating print media to the greatest extent, the focus was on the following aspects: faster and error-free production, the potential for central data maintenance, the means to quickly produce the catalogues in numerous language versions, as well as creating a uniform structure for online publications and print materials. The next step was to furthermore be able to provide customers with online data sheets and customer-specific documents.

InBetween’s standard software provided Schrack with all necessary functions for achieving this objective within the shortest time possible. Since Schrack had already paved the way to a successful launch by establishing the necessary groundwork, i.e., clear process definition and providing as complete database as possible, amongst others, the conversion to an automated workflow was accomplished in record time. From initially contacting InBetween to the first publication using InBetween, only a scant two months elapsed.

One Range of Products – 14 Catalogues in 14 Languages

In the past, Schrack’s strategy of a uniform product range on all markets could only be applied with restrictions. The greatest obstacle was the time-consuming process of manually creating printed catalogues in QuarkXpress, which resulted in not being able to launch products on some markets until a much later date, as the catalogues were not yet finished. Launching the InBetween Dynamic Publishing solution remedied this state in summer 2012: Only a month after installation and user training in late August, the first publication was created in September, and the process was practically fully automated. Moreover, in late October, the first automated catalogue was available in 10 languages.

By summer 2013, Schrack already had 6 automated catalogues in 14 languages, and each catalogue comprises approximately 400 pages. The following procedure proved to be particularly effective for producing the innumerous language variants: Schrack commences by compiling the German variants, and subsequently immediately compiles the English issue. This permits area managers to choose which language the translations will be based on.

Generally, a further 2 groups are formed, whereby for similar languages (e.g., Czech and Slovak), one language is invariably defined and completed as the master version. Different terms and phrases can thus be relatively quickly adapted

Target Group-specific Communications

By launching the InBetween solution, Schrack simultaneously established the base for continuative plans for target group-specific communications and customer-specific documents: Applying the URL generator enables personalizing contents based on profile data. Schrack wishes to use this to compile customer-specific catalogues for Eastern Europe.

With the InBetween URL generator, documents containing the latest data are generated via a simple hyperlink or by entering the URL address. Since variables can be used in this procedure, documents can be adapted with individual contents such as special prices, and layouts can also be adapted. The output format is freely selectable, and the same templates are used as in catalogue production.

Higher Turnover at Lower Costs

Schrack is now much closer to their goal of being able to operate uniformly and quickly in all countries, thanks to dynamic publishing. The added value is multifaceted: All in all, the production process could be considerably shortened to produce more product catalogues in even more language variants in the same amount of time, and the error rate was reduced to practically zero by establishing a universal overall production process. This in turn reduces the production costs, while simultaneously optimizing print costs. Since the total production output is increased, Schrack can print at considerably more favorable terms. However, what is of even more importance is that product ranges can now be competently launched in countries where they were previously either not available at all, or at a much later date than on other markets,. The company could thus considerably increase their turnover on the foreign markets, and the increased revenue is directly mirrored in the net operating results.



Global Launch Thanks to InBetween

Andreas Scharf, Marketing Director at Schrack, explains how thanks to InBetween, the “global launch” of a new product now functions so much more easily.

How important are print catalogues for Schrack and for your customers?

In principle, we normally deal with craftsmen who still work in a very conservative manner. Naturally, providing a printed catalogue as a reference book is still an absolute “must.” A catalogue simply offers the ideal format for presenting our products and information, together with explanatory graphics, in a clearly arranged, properly dimensioned and descriptive manner. Moreover, as a rule, our customers invariably have our catalogue readily at hand. It goes without saying that we likewise offer all other channels such as an online shop, apps and naturally, our personal consultancy provided by our field staff.

Given the very comprehensive product range, how do you ensure that customers find what they are looking for?

We have clearly structured our catalogues: there is one catalogue per product group, whereby the individual products are detailed using pictures, sketches, as well as all relevant technical specifications and information on product variants – most often in a tabular overview. Symbols provide information on how quickly the goods can be delivered, and whether they are available for pickup. If they find what they are looking for in the catalogue, they have numerous options for placing their order: Apart from picking it up in a Schrack store, customers can not only place their order via the online shop or the iPhone app, but also in the traditional manner per telephone or fax.

At Schrack, you operate in many different national markets, which in the meantime – thanks to automation – you can now cover in 14 different language variants. Have you received any customer feedback yet?

Being able to provide our specialized catalogue in so many languages is most definitely a competitive advantage. If, for example, you would like to sell connectors to an electrician in the Ukraine or Bulgaria, it is so much easier when you can provide them with a well-arranged catalogue in their own language, which compactly contains all necessary information. They might not have understood the technical terms in English, and would therefore possibly have purchased them elsewhere. That is precisely the aspect that distinguishes us from other providers, who at the most, still only provide information materials in 2-3 languages.

Broadly speaking, can it be assumed that you generate more turnover due to the many language variants of your catalogue?

Yes it can, even though we naturally cannot yet substantiate this with exact figures after such a brief time span. What plays a significant role apart from more easily providing potential purchasers with information in their respective language, is that these variants can now be produced much more quickly. We can now launch new products on the market at an earlier date and practically simultaneously in all countries. Changes in price can also be simultaneously transacted. Insofar, we can certainly say that we can achieve a higher turnover due to the dynamic publishing solution, particularly on the foreign markets. Each and every euro is in fact added profit.

Based on your own experience of converting to an automated process, what would be your recommendation for other companies wishing to likewise optimize their processes?

First of all, automation only makes sense when all the data is available in its entirety, and the catalogues can be completely produced by means of the dynamic publishing software. This holds true for both the type of data and for the translations. To efficiently create a catalogue, you should deliberate whether to adapt the layout or data contents and store and manage the necessary text fields in a database. The work process must be clearly defined and structured. In the final analysis, you need a truly wonderful system partner like InBetween, who are likewise just as quickly and competently involved in the implementation.


Schrack Technik: Strong Austrian Player

The Schrack Technik group is a leading technology company specializing in products and solutions for energy and data distribution. From the Austrian headquarter Schrack has built up a strong market presence in central Europe by establishing a number of subsidiaries. 
The Schrack Technik group of companies with its corporate headquarter in Vienna is focused on products and solutions for all segments of energy and data technology. The company offers its customers a full product range for the most secure, comfortable and economical distribution and consumption of power. 
Since the takeover of Highspeed Cabling the company is also a specialist for products and solutions for data networks. Outside of Austria Schrack operates with subsidiaries in eleven countries. Partner companies represent the company in a total of 40 countries.