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Samsonite has long been a trendsetter. For nearly 110 years, the brand has been the dominant force behind luggage and travel accessories. Though older companies are sometimes resistant to change — especially technological enhancements — Samsonite has embraced new internal workflows and product information requirements to establish omnichannel consistency and build more meaningful consumer experiences.
As a product marketing manager for Samsonite, Meghan O'Keefe is responsible for ensuring the business needs and processes are running smoothly with Samsonite's wholesale partner websites, such as Macy’s and Kohl's.
Before its commitment to the digital shelf, the legendary luggage company encountered several challenges many brand manufacturers face: outdated and incorrect spreadsheets, multiple sets of dimensions for the same product, and poor cross-functional communication. O'Keefe was challenged with these time-consuming frustrations every day.
“On a huge line sheet — where teams were manipulating things by hand or by copy and paste — it was inevitable someone might mess something up or make errors,” O’Keefe explains.
As the industry leader in luggage and to create the most reliable consumer experience, she recognized the need to establish product consistency across every channel their items and consumers touched.
“We needed a single source of truth—to have a single repository of information,” she says.
O’Keefe’s first order of business was to import all product content into the Salsify product experience management (PXM) platform to create a central source of truth, which helps her team save time and reduce input errors.
This process required reaching out to any team that needed to create or change product specifications or assets, such as manufacturing, sales, merchandising, creative, and marketing teams. She then collected this product information, synthesized the details, and entered those assets into the platform.
“We started with 100 products on our price list, and now we have almost 38,000 products in our products section,” said O’Keefe of the year-long digital transformation. “Being a very old company, a lot of our relationships go way back. For that reason, it took a while to implement because we had to go backward to input years of product.”
The initial phase of the process was manual — having to enter all the data. But once the product information was entered, edits became quick and easy. O’Keefe even set up a feed from her master data software that created a weekly report on any product or product content element that was created or changed in the last seven days.
“The feed now runs automatically every Monday at 7 a.m., and the ability to view the changes in our product section really helps to keep our information current,” O’Keefe says.
O'Keefe's team initially started lean: just her and an IT colleague. Soon after the integration of Salsify and the creation of a single source of product information, word got out at Samsonite.
Today, there are about 200 Samsonite users in the Salsify platform, stemming from different parts of the company.
"Some are actively pulling reports and data. Some are in there to pull images. Some are individuals we've appointed to maintain the manual data we import — like product copy," O'Keefe explains.
The best part, according to O'Keefe? All 200 internal users are viewing and pulling from the same information. "We're finally seeing the same set of information on every single website rather than one set of product content on one website and another set on another website," she says.
The work isn't done when the platform is set up and processes seem to be working more efficiently. New team members will join the company, and technology enhancements happen continually.
O'Keefe offers her team continuing education, and explains her reasoning: "With Salsify, the platform is super user-friendly and intuitive — so even if you weren't well-versed on how to use the app or its features, you could guess your way through. That being said, we do have refreshers on different enhancements we've made and training sessions to clear up any questions or other issues, so everyone is on the same page."
O'Keefe and the rest of the Samsonite team also use digital catalog and sell sheets regularly within their work. Some brands use the catalog as a sales tool or to digitize their print catalog for easier distribution. Samsonite smartly uses the feature for external partners to self-serve images.
"The retailer or another partner can go in, easily find the products they're looking for, and download the files in the format they need," O'Keefe explains.
The sell sheets have also come in handy when Samsonite's graphic design resources are occupied and unavailable. Instead of missing an opportunity to pitch to a new partner or place products with merchandisers, "we looked into whether Salsify could populate a sell sheet that was mirrored after our catalog pages. It took some back and forth to get them to where we wanted, but it's great to be able to print those at the drop of a hat."
For Samsonite, its primary focus is ensuring its brand and products are number one in the wholesale space. Getting more product content centralized and error-free — and taking less time to do so — has increased the company’s market share.
Samsonite is now eyeing the next step in digitally transforming its product content. O’Keefe is particularly excited about the future of enhanced content and what it can mean to her retailer relationships.
“We're just now getting our feet wet with enhanced content through Salsify,” says O’Keefe. “I think it will help us propel to the top of the page — which is where we want to be on all of our wholesale partners’ websites.”
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