Sears talks shop about its customized, unified solution for asset management and image replacement.
Quick: Name a product that you can't get from Sears, Roebuck and Co. Need a minute to think of one? That's not surprising. The Hoffman Estates, IL-based mega-retailer aims to create a one-stop shopping environment, offering everything from appliances, apparel and automotive goods to tools, toys and high-tech merchandise. Not bad for a company founded simply to sell watches.
Of course, people can't buy all of these commodities unless they know they're available. To that end, Sears utilizes the standard vehicles for marketing and promotion, including print. Enter the company's retail printing department, which produces four-color newspaper inserts and whole-house mailers, so named because they promote the majority of Sears' departments in a single printed piece.
John Vitellaro, national buyer, retail printing, calculates that Sears produces approximately 14 million mailers seven or eight times annually, and between 100 and 150 million preprints weekly.
That's a lot of print pieces, and each job layout contains numerous product shots. No wonder that Sears has spent nearly a decade perfecting a system for image storage and management.
In 1991, Vitellaro began searching for someone or something to manage what he calls Sears' "digital equity," but he couldn't find any takers. So he cobbled together a makeshift solution. "We initially used three different separators to store our images. Each had a lot of images, and some of our images were stored at more than one location. But no one [supplier] had everything," Vitellaro recalls. "Having 'triplicity' gave us security in case a separator went out of business or we stopped working with one of them."
The vendors included the image storage costs in their overall fee. "We were charged one price for a page of separation, and part and parcel of that price was storage of those images," he remembers. "The only extra charge would be to transfer an image to one of the other separators.