Can you introduce us to the Catalog TODAY app in just a few words…
The TODAY app is a B-to-B company catalog that allows sales representatives to present collections of household linens and then place orders directly through stores or central purchasing.
More and more sales solutions are using tablets. What was your client’s brief and its main issues?
The idea was to equip the sales force with a simple and effective tool to help sell and take orders, to eliminate paperwork that is often misleading, to eliminate paper catalogues and to present modern and attractive linen collections with beautiful images and videos that highlight the products.
Why did you choose PandaSuite to do this?
One of the major questions was avoiding reloading all of the images, as a website may do each time that you open it. So we had to go to an application editor, or at least a means of digitally broadcasting enriched content with images, videos and animations without running into problems with 3G…
The iPad had become the salesperson’s work tool, and they needed to be able to use it even if they were in some shop lost in the middle of the countryside!
For the record, the first catalog was created with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS), which worked very well for 3 years. Then there was a change in commercial policy at Adobe, where they wanted to first distribute their digital publication system in large corporations, and that forced us to find alternative solutions.
Basically it had become far too expensive and oversized in relation to the needs of the customer.
I then went to other publishers like Aquafadas, Twixel,… but there were technical problems, load times were too long, costs were too high, etc., and we couldn’t keep going like that.
After a quick market study, I offered the customer the PandaSuite solution. PandaSuite made it possible to continue the approach that we had already begun and brought forward additional tools – small innovations like geolocation and then the standalone studio, which can easily be passed on to the customer if they want to one day take over themselves.
What’s more, the implementation cost was very reasonable.
The catalog is very big: more than 400 screens and an incalculable number of references… what was your method for integrating all this content? How long did it take?
Yes, the catalog is very voluminous in terms of pages, and that’s why I chose Panda over other systems, since aside from Adobe DPS, none could support the load, or could only do it with a lot of difficulty.
For example, updates were very slow, for some it was up to half an hour, because the whole catalog had to be reloaded just to make a simple update on a page – and that’s impossible for the kind of catalog that’s constantly evolving.
Panda was much more responsive when I tested it out, and that was what really tipped the scales!
The development method is above all based on rigorously preparing the contents, a Photoshop script to prepare the images, good naming of elements in order to easily find them in the media library and overall lots of copy/paste!
In short, it represents a few months of full-time work, but when you love what you’re doing…!
Identification form, shopping cart, sending confirmations by email… you’ve integrated advanced features. Can you explain to our readers how you did it?
The advantage of PandaSuite is that it is completely compatible with HTML5 and it lets you insert HTML content very easily. You just draw a box and tap on the link of the page that you want to see displayed.
With that, I could program links to PHP pages that generate the login display, increment buttons and the shopping cart. That database is completely autonomous and secure, just grafted onto the catalog interface.
How did the deployment of the catalog to the salespeople go?
Each salesperson received a personalized link by email, inviting them to download the application (the hub) and then to download the catalog available inside. We can also disable sharing if we want to, on an individual basis.
And how are updates made?
With a very responsive team, you guys!
I think that Panda’s strength is in proposing a broad professional solution while maintaining a privileged link with small businesses, I always feel reassured by your responsiveness and your professionalism!
We can easily submit updates that fix small bugs, and then it’s simple, the salesperson receives a notification on their iPad prompting them to download the latest version of the application. Very effective.
Many PandaSuite users are currently creating commercial supports… do you have any advice for them?
I think you have to experiment regularly with the new functions proposed by the studio, with a little imagination you can do lots of things!
Don’t hesitate to play around with geolocation, blow sensors, etc…
I remember a book of riddles that marked me when it was released in 1994, “On the Trail of the Golden Owl”. I spent a lot of time on it, working it over in all sorts of ways, and never solving it. But what really mattered was the pleasure that I had in working out my imagination!
I think there is still plenty to discover in the digital field – maybe even the Golden Owl will be found by geolocation?
Do you have other projects in mind for the future?
In the immediate future, I’d like to offer a PHP kit together with Panda that would allow others to use the same process that I developed for my company. Really easy to install, it would let SMBs graft a system of order taking into their catalog, thus equipping their sales force with a very powerful tool.
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