Every new season, salespeople Wendi Mathis and Scott Ohsman of Seattle struggle to collect and carry the heavy, glossy print fashion catalogs of Helly Hansen, Adidas Outdoor, Acorn and more to their sales meetings. It takes these two top notch sales experts hours to thumb through and present pages of many different catalogs to their prospective buyers at REI, Nordstrom, and Macys, hoping for the buyers to sign off on selections for their retail showrooms next season. Then comes the circling of items in the catalog and scribbling quantities, special discounts, and delivery dates on anywhere in the catalog;  it's another wasteful procedure to keep the information organized and see that it is fulfilled. This process occurs in every sales meeting. And even if a buyer decides to buy just a few items, as soon as the order information is written down, the full color, heavy weight paper catalog is effectively tossed out.

This sales scenario is repeated thousands of times a day across the nation, where salespeople working for major brands sell 70% of their products to retail buyers.  Millions of printed pages are wasted, while the whole process of taking an order stays unreliable and time consuming - not to mention cumbersome.

Visulon saw a solution to this problem two years ago, and came out with a product platform that creates seasonal databases of new products for major brands. Our Digital Workbook (an interactive, digital version of a print catalog) allows orders to be processed while buying decisions are being made, giving buyers instant access to the completed order, with discounts and ship dates included. Once it is approved it gets pushed to the backend ERP, like SAP using web services.

Outdoor brand The North Face decided to use the system few seasons ago and benefited vastly while selling to Dicks, Nordstrom and Macys. In addition to the reduction of wasteful paper, ink, and water usage, the brand got the added advantage of getting the most accurate, real-time product data, pricing, and availability visible to the sales teams digitally, aided by hybrid cloud storage on Visulon’s database. 

When viewed not just with an environmentally-conscious perspective but a common sense one, the process of printing millions of new paper catalogs and workbooks every season is an anomaly - especially in an already digitally savvy product development and management sphere of the Apparel and Footwear industry.  For several years now, new products have been designed using digital tools like Adobe’s Indesign, Illustrator or Photoshop and then transmitted into PLM/PDM systems. But for wholesale and retail sales, Marketing and Sales Operations in apparel and footwear companies still primarily rely on the printed medium. 

Visulon thought deeply and critically to build a full bridge for this process by developing an innovative software product platform that would eliminate the need for paper, save on shipping and transport around the globe, and ultimately cut time to market.  Companies like Converse, Bauer Hockey, Asolo, Arena, and Skins have started using the platform and find it both a useful and environmentally conscious approach to follow.

Scott and Wendi now have the convenience of taking their laptops or iPads to buyers to show them detailed, digital catalog pages of all the products they want to discuss. Salespeople have the ability to create custom small workbooks, and orders can be processed instantly. With easy login facilities, buyers can get onto the Visulon’s system to check on their order status at any time. Best of all, Scott can reduce his orders of heavy, paper catalogs from Adidas Outdoor or Helly Hansen, making his life, and ultimately sales, much easier. 

About The Author

Arun Joshi

Arun is founder and CEO of Visulon Inc. since its inception in 2010. He began his career working for Intel Corporation and held various managerial responsibilities during his long tenure with Intel. He was a co-founder of Preenroll.com, flexiworld (COO) and Ovationworx. He is the founder and CEO of Encodex Technologies, a software consulting company that has developed large enterprise portals for more than fifty medium to large clients. Arun was the co-founder and ex-president of TiE Oregon. His interests also lie in working on a host of philanthropic projects through his Foundation. Arun is passionate about technology strategies that accelerate business innovations and entrepreneurship. Arun has B.S. in Engineering from Bombay University, M.S. in Engineering from Kansas State University and Executive MBA from UC Berkeley. Arun wants to innovate the way B2B sales processes are carried out by implementing new systems and technology. His inspiration stems from climate consciousness: by replacing print with digital catalogs, he hopes to save millions of trees and reduce the waste of precious resources.