Foot care pioneer Ruck focuses on contemporary marketing
BY CARMELA MELONE
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 4 2018)
As a pioneer of foot care in Germany, Hellmut Ruck GmbH faces growing demands in the field of product information management. The company has set itself the particular task of meeting rising customer demands with regard to the visualisation of products through various channels and has brought apollon on board as a digitalisation partner.
A family-owned business, Ruck positions itself as a leading specialist wholesaler for foot care, cosmetics and wellness. Please briefly describe the history of the company.
We are proud to look back upon a history spanning more than 90 years. The company was founded in 1927 by my grandfather, Hellmut Ruck sen., who is still considered a pioneer of foot care in Germany today. After the Second World War, the company started over again in 1945, doing so practically from scratch. Hellmut Ruck GmbH quickly grew over the next several years, and by 1959 it already had 15 employees on its payroll. In 1964, Hellmut Ruck jun. joined the operation and worked to grow the specialised trade in particular. The firm ultimately relocated to Neuenbürg in 1997, where it took up offices in a new company building. As a true family-run business, the company came full circle when I joined the firm in 2008. I joined the company Management Board in 2017. Today, Hellmut Ruck GmbH presents itself as a market-leading and steadily growing family-run company, now with around 250 employees. We set standards for innovation and quality.
What product groups does your product range comprise, and for whom is your offer intended?
The origin of our business idea is: ‘Everything for feet and skin care’. We not only sell equipment, treatment tables and fittings but also develop these ourselves and produce them in our Ruck manufactory. Our target groups are pedicurists and podiatrists. The cosmetics, wellness and spa areas also play an important role.
How have requirements in the field of product information management changed, and how do these changes affect sales?
The need for information has risen sharply, particularly through our online channels. The customer expects far more information variety nowadays than just a few years ago. Our focus is upon visualisation. Because we develop and sell very sophisticated products in the field of medical technology, the way illustrations and 3D views are presented plays a major role. It is also important to achieve comparability by means of clearly defined, product-specific attributes. High-quality copy to describe the product, containing all the information of relevance to the customer, also plays a decisive role in the purchase decision. Our sales operation uses PIM as an information basis for customer consultations. The product search function in the online shop, or a click on the product in the online catalogue, carries the user to the corresponding product page. All of the relevant information about a product can be called up on its product page – whether by our customers or by employees involved in a customer consultation.
For your omnichannel marketing system, you chose Online Media Net by apollon as the central management system for your product information. What convinced you to make that selection?
What convinced us most was the variety of customisation options. These can be perfectly represented in the system, based on the company focus and the respective product requirements. The system can centrally and uniformly serve all channels.
How does Online Media Net support you in your daily work, and with which modules?
We use PIM, MAM, Project Management (PM) and Xactuell at the moment. The synergy of PIM and MAM supports print production very effectively and simplifies the constant update of product data. By contrast, the Project Management module is used to trigger and manage the various channels, such as the web shop or print publication.
Please tell us how such a project proceeds, and what challenges need to be overcome together with the software manufacturer.
The biggest hurdle is usually the definition of requirements. Often, any problems or errors that might crop up can only be identified in the application itself, i.e. in daily work using the system. By that time, however, a project is typically already ‘completed’. The challenge thus becomes one of implementing all the necessary changes – in the worst case, by intervening at key points.
With the flipaio digital catalogue, you offer your customers a contemporary product presentation. How exactly does this online catalogue work, and why did you decide to offer it?
The digital catalogue offers our customers lots of benefits, since they can simply flip through the pages, the way they would with a print medium, and it offers a direct link to the online shop. Besides, the online catalogue is very easy to use and available across all channels. In addition to its use by our customers, the digital catalogue is also helpful during customer consultations – through quicker product searches, for example.
How do you view the future of print catalogues and similar information media?
We were at the very forefront of online sales in our sector. A real success story that will intensify even more in the future. The print catalogue, our ‘Ruck Handbuch’, will not lose its importance as an accompanying medium, however. The Ruck Handbuch in print is still important to our particular clientele. It is a source of inspiration and a reference work, even if orders are increasingly being placed online. It also has a great deal to do with the target group involved. Older customers prefer the conventional ordering method. The increasingly younger customer base tends to have a much greater preference and orientation for online ordering. Essentially, the online shop simply provides a better reflection of current information content, and this is highly appreciated by all customers.
What is the significance of digitalisation generally for Ruck, and what other projects are planned?
Digitalisation is a high priority at Ruck and has the potential for improvement. Near-term goals include tailoring and customising the PIM/MAM system to the new requirements of our online world and improving export in print production. Near-term tasks also include comparability of individual products with each other, quicker content maintenance and an improved density of product information. Added to this are variable options for export to different target groups.
After graduating with a degree in business management (university of applied sciences) in 2008, Simeon Ruck joined the family-run company where he and his father have formed the Management Board since 2017. He is in charge of sales, marketing and internal organisation. As Managing Director, genuine innovations are his daily motivation and are particularly close to his heart.
apollon GmbH+Co. KG offers integrated and holistic solutions for product data management, cross-media publishing and omnichannel commerce.
apollon GmbH+Co. KG
HELLMUT RUCK GmbH
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