Seattle Bike Supply Accelerates Production Cycle

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Bike and bike parts cataloger Seattle Bike Supply has reduced the time needed to proof its catalog and sales fliers by 40 percent since January using Catalog Preview from the Gutenberg Publishing System by Seattle Publishing Inc.

Catalog Preview, which was launched at the start of the year, resembles an online proofing tool, said Jay Stillwell, business development director for Seattle Publishing, which also handles Seattle Bike Supply's prepress.

However, the program isn't static, so Seattle Bike Supply, Kent, WA, can make changes on the page such as product positioning and sort orders. Because it is essentially a database program, this is the limit of the changes that can be made on the screen.

Each of Seattle Bike's company buyers is responsible for compiling the product data and images for his product lines, which Seattle Publishing flows into the designed catalog file. Previously, Seattle Bike Supply  then had to wait until receiving hard-copy proofs to review and make changes. These would be routed back to Seattle Publishing and the changes applied.

Now, the merchandisers and others can view the pages electronically and make the adjustments. This cuts the time between the first and second round of proofs by 40 percent because it isn't necessary to make all the changes that typically would be required without a preview system, Mr. Stillwell said.

For example, Seattle Bike Supply attends a major industry show yearly at the end of September, from which it usually adds about 1,000 new items to the line. In the past, it would have taken six weeks to prepare all the information and have it ready to fit into the catalog. This year, Mr. Stillwell predicts Seattle Bike Supply will be ready two weeks after the show.

"By being able to preview the new items with the existing products on the page, it cuts down on the time," he said.

"Most of our clients are wanting to go faster," Mr. Stillwell said, adding that these clients also have smaller staffs to manage their catalogs. "But they also want to feel that they are in control, that the decision about where the products are going on the page is coming through."

This is where Catalog Preview can help, along with creating cost savings on the production as well.

Catalog Preview is an enhancement to the Gutenberg Publishing System, a database-driven system also from Seattle Publishing (, Seattle. With it, product data are imported directly into QuarkXpress, InDesign or PageMaker without the need to format content.

Seattle Bike Supply issues an annual catalog that is about 500 pages and contains thousands of SKUs in addition to 16-page fliers that it mails monthly.

Costco also is using the Catalog Preview tool for its business delivery catalogs, Mr. Stillwell said.

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