Quickly Onboard Your Black Friday or Holiday Sale Pricing

When you have a sitewide sale event, do you have an easy, quick and reliable method for getting these sale prices into the system? Similarly, when the sale is over, are you able to bring back the old pricing (or update it with newer pricing) in the same manner? If you are using a Product Information Management system worth its salt, the answer to both questions should be a resounding and firm “Yes!”.

Whether your pricing is on the simple side (a single price field, or a few price fields) or more complex (many price fields, tiered pricing, zone pricing, event-specific pricing, etc.), the process should be roughly the same. Your pricing fields are managed in a spreadsheet, with each SKU or Item as its own row, and this is the file you use to bring this pricing into the PIM.

Why Excel?

Well, any spreadsheet software is fine, really. Excel is by far the most popular one, so people almost use it interchangeably with “spreadsheet software”. There are a number of advantages to keeping your pricing in a spreadsheet:

1. You can perform advanced pricing calculations (such as % off, markdowns, markups, etc.) against any number of SKU’s quickly.

2. It is a fairly universal format and easy to read and manage. Just about anyone who owns a computer has some sort of spreadsheet software installed.

3. Any number of pricing files can be saved so you can rollout pricing quickly. For example, you may have a Halloween sale pricing that affects 5,000 SKU’s. That spreadsheet with those specific SKU’s can be kept ready and imported in time for that sale. Meanwhile, you may have a Black Friday sale spreadsheet with the same or additional SKU’s, all with completely different pricing, ready to be imported at that time. Essentially, you are just managing multiple spreadsheets, one for each specific sale.

An Example of a Simple Pricing File

Below, I am showing a simplistic example of what a pricing spreadsheet actually looks like. In this specific case, we are looking at the simplest case possible: a single pricing field. The file, therefore, only contains two columns: the first for Item # or SKU, and the 2nd for “Price”.

If you wanted multiple pricing fields, such as List Price, MSRP, etc., these would just be additional columns in the file. But it works exactly the same way.
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Export Out Existing Pricing

Through the Product Information Management system, the first thing you probably want to do is export out all of your existing items and price values. This becomes your “backup” in case any bad price values get loaded. It can also be used to quickly revert pricing once the specified sale period ends—provided pricing hasn’t changed in the meantime.

The generated file should, of course, be in the same spreadsheet-readable format that the Importer would use (such as tab-delimited text).

If your items are broken down differently within your PIM, you should be able to export each individual collection of items and their pricing as individual files. This will make it easier for you to manage and mass update the pricing later.

For example, you may have an upcoming flash sale event for “Automotive Accessories”. You don’t want to update or manage your entire line of products, just those that belong to Automotive Accessories. The PIM should allow you to easily do this, so now your pricing spreadsheet has a relatively few items in it—just those that need to be updated for the flash sale event.

Bring It Back In

Now that you have your pricing spreadsheet(s) updated, you need to have a mechanism to get that data into the system quickly when it’s time for your sale event to go Live. This would be the Import feature within the Product Information Management system.

Now that you have your pricing spreadsheet(s) updated, you need to have a mechanism to get that data into the system quickly when it’s time for your sale event to go Live. This would be the Import feature within the Product Information Management system.
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Can It Be Automated?

The scenarios we discussed above are well and good if you are trying to do a manual import—that is, one involving a spreadsheet and a human initiating a process. But, what about a case where you’d prefer your backend ERP system to automatically bring that pricing over for your sales events?

The scenarios we discussed above are well and good if you are trying to do a manual import—that is, one involving a spreadsheet and a human initiating a process. But, what about a case where you’d prefer your backend ERP system to automatically bring that pricing over for your sales events?

Typically, these are done on a nightly basis at a time when the fewest users tend to be active in the system. It can be set, however, to run as often as you need, exactly when you need it. A manual import can still be run at any time to override this automated pricing, also.

How Letter Keys Help Your Catalog Take Off

If you open up several print catalogs at random, you will see that there isn’t a single standard format in use. Some catalogs use entire spreads to set up a “scene”: here’s a desk, chair, bunk bed, rug, dresser, lamp, and nightstand. All of these items are for sale, but rather than being sold individually on a page and without context, they are grouped together as an entire children’s bedroom ensemble.

Another catalog might have a section called “Interior Lighting”, and there is where you will find all of your lamps. Each lamp is part of its own product block—so the marketing copy, pricing, title, and photo are clearly grouped. There may be more than one photo—perhaps an alternate color option, but it’s still part of the same product grouping.

It’s a Matter of Style

In both catalog making cases, it’s the same lamp for sale, but with two very different ways of presenting it. Neither is “correct” or “better”; it’s all about the individual cataloger’s branding & style. To be perfectly honest, these are just two contrasting examples but there are others.

In fact, some will employ multiple styles within the same catalog. The majority of the catalog may be presented as sections with grouped products, but highlighted with the occasional spread or single page “scene” to emphasize hero products and top sellers. The number of combinations are as limitless as the imaginations of the print catalog makers who come up with them.

Different Cases for Presentation of Images

In cases where products are presented as “blocks”, it is obvious which photo(s) belong to which product. This is because the title, copy, image(s), and pricing are physically together on the page. There may be 6-8 “blocks” on the same page, but within each block, it is clear that these images describe that product, and that marketing copy is talking about the product shown in that image.

But what about a case where you’d rather show a large number of individual images that are tied to the same product block, but are physically disconnected from the block within the catalog page? For example, let’s say you have a product group called “Samsung Compact Refrigerators”. The name tells us these are all compact refrigerators belonging to the Samsung brand. There are 7 individual SKU’s associated with the product block, which means we want to show 7 images.

Many Images Disconnected from Copy

In our particular catalog layout, we put the marketing copy & SKU info along the inner part of the page, and we’d like to place the 7 images on the outside edge of the page. Not only is this pleasing to the eye, but it makes more efficient use of the catalog space to put all images together this way. The potential issue, of course, is that once the images are spaced far enough away from the copy, it can be difficult to keep track of which image belongs to which SKU during the catalog making process.

Compounding this problem is the fact that you aren’t likely to show just a single product group on a page. In most cases, you’ll have multiple (if not several) product groupings. Now, you have multiple images along the outer edge of the page along with multiple copy blocks on the inside with the individual SKU information. This means it could be easy to mistake one of the “floating” images with a block it doesn’t belong to. How to correct this?

Letter Keys to the Rescue

The best and most effective way to handle this is with the use of Letter Keys. Any good catalog making software worth its salt will have this capability. Letter Keys (A, B, C, D, etc.) will be placed next to each of the individual SKU’s on the copy block, and the corresponding letter is placed next to the appropriate image.

This makes it easy to tell which image belongs to exactly which product on the page, even if is manually moved in the layout stage. Furthermore, the letter keys can be “grouped” with the image so it won’t get accidentally misplaced during the aforementioned layout stage changes. This takes a load off your designers because they can focus on making the catalog pleasing to the eye without worrying about which photo belongs to which product block or SKU.

Another Case for Letter Keys

When showing technical drawings, such as products that are presented as “Kits” or with a Parts List, you have another great opportunity for Letter Keys to shine. Because there are often a large number of associated images for the multiple component parts, it’s easy to lose track of which is which on the page.

A good example of this might be an assembly drawing for appliances such as cabinets. I’m sure we’re all thinking of our favorite Scandinavian ready-to-assemble furniture retailer right about now! The cabinet you purchased as a ready-to-assemble kit might contain 25 individual component parts, not to mention a bag of screws and other fasteners.

The accompanying assembly drawing will not only show the assembly steps, but you’ll have a blowout photo of all the accompanying parts so you can quickly and easily identify everything in the package. The individual components will be given a Letter Key to make them easy to recognize, and typically you’ll find the same Letter as a sticker on the physical component within your ready-to-assemble kit.

In Conclusion

When catalog making, you need to first consider the style of catalog you’re going for. For established catalogers, there is already a brand theme and customer expectations driving you along. While you don’t need to force Letter Keys into your catalog to make it work, it’s another invaluable tool in the toolbox.

If you want more freedom when displaying your images and don’t want to be anchored so tightly to your marketing copy, Letter Keys are a proven and viable alternative. They are also indispensable if you need to include any kind of technical drawings, or “exploded views” for Kits & products with Parts Lists. While you may not need Letter Keys for every situation, you are almost sure to run into multiple cases where they are the clear best option.