UK cycles distributor, Raleigh Parts and Accessories, has invested in catalogue management software from content management specialist Reqio, as the first stage of a phased e-commerce strategy. Raleigh is a UK distributor within the cycle accessories market and operates through a network of 1350 retailers offering more than 6000 different products to its customers. But rather than leaping straight into investment in a B2B site, research by the company showed that its client base was far from ready to source, select and order products on-line, although there was some evidence of customers moving towards electronic browsing. Hence the firm’s decision to take its first step towards e-commerce by creating a CD-based electronic catalogue using Reqio’s Catalogue Manager software. Jane Tomkinson, Raleigh’s marketing Manager comments; “We selected Reqio because they provided an ideal way for us to pull together our ever-changing product information into a single electronic catalogue. This will vastly reduce the time and costs spent maintaining our product information and in the short term will be offered to dealers via a CD, as an interim measure to our on-line plans.” And rather than wait for its legacy systems to be replaced before embarking on an e-commerce strategy, Raleigh is now benefiting from having centralised product information. “50% of our product numbers change every year making the maintenance of paper catalogues a constant challenge. Reqio will not only cut production costs and simplify maintenance of our paper catalogues but [will] also allow us to prepare tailored CD catalogues for specific dealers at no additional cost whilst increasing customer service,” says Tomkinson. The ‘new’ catalogues will have individual pricing information, plus special, obscure or older line items that don’t usually feature in the general catalogue. This will potentially allow dealers to improve the range of products and services that they can offer to their end customers by sourcing items hard to find elsewhere. Tomkinson says populating the Reqio database required little IT skill and is actually being performed by marketing staff. In addition to significant time savings in marketing, Product Managers and sales will also benefit from these investments with the Reqio catalogue becoming the internal bible for product information. Technical support will also use the catalogue to handle customer queries via the Reqio search criteria. Whatever the query customers will then receive the most accurate, up to date information on product function and availability thus improving service. Mark Corderoy, Reqio’s ceo, comments: “We specialise in allowing customers to consolidate and present product information in a range of ways that saves time and money. We’re delighted that our strategic product content solutions are enabling companies to begin e-commerce investment at a pace that suits them whilst reaping the internal benefits of a central repository for complex, ever-changing product information.”