Automation & integration project:
Leading UK print supplier delivers £3million + (first year) savings
SP Group is a leading supplier of print to the UK retail sector working with many well known high street brands.
They produce shelf edge price labels for a number of retailers and were looking to reduce the time and cost to process the data.
Having previously built a bespoke system to process their varied client data,
we were now asked to build a highly automated
system to produce price labels for a number of high street retailers.
SP Group have a number of contracts to produce shelf edge price and promotional labels for high street retailers and
supermarkets. Historically they had a achieved this by receiving client data in spreadsheets which were manually manipulated
before being fed into semi-automated, client specific solutions.
Having won another large contract they wanted a fully automated solution that could be integrated with their new clients systems
and was also flexible enough to be used for existing clients.
To build an automated shelf edge labelling solution that would:
- Integrate directly with client systems to receive data
- Generate templated, print ready artwork showing product details, pricing and current offers
- Allocate correct price labels to different stores based on price band and stock
- Ensure all labels are produced and packed in ‘walk order’ (saving crucial time in-store)
- Produce print-ready files to enable the most efficient printing and packaging of their labels
- Meet all regulatory requirements
“Step one is always to gain a full understanding of the business – document the changes that need to be made - and uncover any hidden issues”
Scale of data to be imported and processed
The solution had to import their clients' complete catalogue of products and pricing
(across 1000's of stores) and where these products were stocked (accurate to the centimeter on shelf)
Scale of the data to be produced
Their solution had to generate ‘production ready’ files containing several hundred thousand unique labels
They were haemorrhaging time and profit
Not having an optimised system in place was costing SP Group millions in lost time and turnover,
this put the pressure on us to deliver an efficient system for them asap
“Every business has unique problems – that’s why we only build tailored solutions”
To allow the ‘immediate’ realisation of some of the greater time savings, a semi-automated interim solution was created and delivered within 6 weeks
To enable SP Group to produce production files - at their required scale - in the available timeframes, we designed and developed a distributed rendering solution; this fully scalable solution allowed hundreds of thousands of PDFs to be created overnight
We worked closely alongside retailers to fully understand their complex data and enabled the new system to process it seamlessly into artworks and allocations
Through close collaboration with SP Groups' in-house designers, we created new artwork templates and template rules from approved designs
To ensure the production and distribution of the labels was efficient and cost-effective; we worked with SP Groups' production teams, trialling different strategies and formats for printing and packing their labels
We built an in-store portal which allowed stores to print replacement labels consistent with brand guidelines –
safeguarding against a centrally produced label being lost or damaged
Outcomes for SP Group and their clients
The ultimate goal for this project was for SP Group to provide a better and speedier service to their clients.
This was achieved, and surpassed with many more major benefits resulting from their new system:
Time savings in all stores
Pre-printed and pre-cut labels produced centrally in walk order, significantly reduced the time spent printing, cutting and putting out labels
Optimised product graphics
Centrally printed labels look far better than those previously printed and cut locally in-store - leading to a more consistent on-shelf look
Fully automated artwork generation
The new ‘logic based’ template solution eliminated their need for artworkers on a day to day basis
(SP Group had relied on either manual or semi-automated artworking previously)
Vastly improved efficiency of the production and distribution of labels
Client retention and satisfaction
Due to the tight integration; it became much more difficult for SP Group's clients to move to another supplier
placing SP Group in a strong position for future contract negotiations
SP Group now has a fully integrated, automated and optimised system producing labels for Boots, Wilko, Co-op Group, Midcounties Co-op and M&S. Co-op made estimated first year savings north of £3,000,000.
We remain fully available to SP Group should any queries or issues arise.
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