International Consumer Products Company

For this project, we worked with an international consumer products company that operates in a three-tier distribution model, shipping products to wholesalers for distribution to consumers via retail chains and independent retailers. Since this client has asked for anonymity, we are excited to provide a generic description of the solution we implemented with them as we believe it to be widely applicable. 

The Problem

As a consumer products manufacturer, selling hundreds of products through multiple trade channels to several hundred thousand customers, efficient merchandising and contract compliance for product placements and inventory accuracy are critical. For this company, the problem was centered on optimizing media management for Point-of-Sale and merchandising materials, as well as capturing and managing set pictures for shelf-space and inventory contract compliance

The company maintains several thousand materials codes in an online catalog, which their Trade Representatives use to order merchandising materials to be installed in retail outlets. However, since there were no images associated with the product code, frequent errors occurred in the ordering process and the wrong material was ordered. Considering the significant impact of shipping the wrong materials to inventory cost, productivity loss through re-ordering, and customer satisfaction, a solution had to be found that would allow the display of images at the time of material order entry.

The Challenge

Each material code has multiple images associated with it, and each image must be stored in various sizes and resolutions. One base image also needed to be displayed in various formats, or different color combinations.

With Salesforce as their core business system for Retail Execution, the company wanted to take advantage of Salesforce’s intuitive UI, and leverage the powerful capabilities of Heroku and Cloudinary as the core of the new merchandising media management solution.

The Solution

The chosen architecture consists of three components:

  1. Implementing Cloudinary to store, manage, and manipulate pictures as media files
  2. Create a custom API to transfer the pictures as media files between Salesforce and Cloudinary and a proprietary mobile retail execution application that is used by the account teams in the Field
  3. Develop a Heroku Canvas application to allow for bulk media uploads from Salesforce to Heroku

Cloudinary

When looking to do media management with Salesforce, Cloudinary is a clear choice. The Cloudinary platform not only acts as an external salesforce database), but it also has the power to store a single image in various formats using one URL.

The use of Cloudinary with its powerful image management capabilities quickly resulted in a measurable reduction of effort to create the desired image variations. 

With our Cloudinary RAMP module, we were also able to make Cloudinary directly accessible from within Salesforce. This enables the materials management team to upload images into Salesforce and creating a unique URL identifier for the image that can be accessed and viewed by any web browser or, as in this case study, through a link from the company’s mobile retail execution application. 

Custom API

To provide the sales team with the ability to take in-store pictures of sets and racks and upload them into the media storage solution, the team architected a custom API connecting Salesforce’s simple UI to the company’s mobile retail execution application.  This seamless integration between the mobile application and Salesforce also supports the real-time availability of any changes to images in the merchandising catalog on the mobile application. 

Heroku Canvas App

The third component of this solution is a Heroku canvas application to support bulk media uploads to occur directly from Salesforce to Heroku/Cloudinary. The user can upload a media file, in our example a set of new merchandising material images and specify various Cloudinary URL manipulations driving how many individual URL’s are required to access the different image formats required.

The results

Since the solution is live, the number of errors in the merchandising material ordering process has been reduced measurably with a positive impact on customer satisfaction, inventory accuracy and quantifiable reduction in shipping cost for materials to be returned. The level of effort required to manage the merchandising media assets has also been reduced significantly. As a result of this positive experience, the company is now considering an expansion of the solution to include upload and management of training videos or company-wide visual communications.

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