Road Runner Speeds Up with DAM

Road Runner Sports was running out of time. The cataloger, which produced 12 books last year and was set to increase that to at least 16 this year, also mails postcards and fliers. Its 10-person production staff found meeting deadlines overwhelming.

So last year the San Diego-based cataloger of running equipment and apparel implemented a Web-based digital asset management (DAM) system from Los Angeles-based color house/prepress provider ColorScope. Although Road Runner had worked with ColorScope for nine years, the cataloger had never used an asset management system.

On its DAM Website, which is accessed through the ColorScope Website, a Road Runner designer can post a layout file using images, copy, and other data that can be dragged from the database that ColorScope houses on its site.

All of the photography for the catalogs is now directly uploaded onto the DAM site. Road Runner can work on page design with the low-res image while ColorScope can simultaneously perform color corrections. When the page is completed, the system will automatically pull the color-corrected high-res images.

The DAM system has parameters for each user, defining the functions and changes they are allowed to perform. For example, if merchants are the only users authorized to make price changes, others are blocked from being able to input changes into that field.

Prior to adopting the DAM system, Road Runner would build a file, then burn it to a disk that it would ship to ColorScope. ColorScope would process it and ship the proof back for approval. The process took at least three days. The DAM system eliminates two days plus the expense of the back-and-forth shipments and disks. Chris Galvan, Road Runner’s manager of advertising, estimates that what with the savings in shipping costs, media such as CDs, and increased efficiency, the company this year has saved $15,000 on producing postcards alone.

Road Runner first tested the system with its promotional postcards. During the first six months, the DAM system “was not as comprehensive as it is currently,” Galvan says. ColorScope subsequently fined-tuned and customized the system to fit Road Runner’s preferences for retrieving and placing the assets. The system is completely Web-based, creating a direct real-time interface between ColorScope and its client.

The spring 2003 catalog was Road Runner’s foray into building an entire book using the DAM system. “We gained at least one day,” says Galvan, who expects to save more time once the staff becomes comfortable with the system. “We are just starting to feel where we can go with our catalog workflow and learning how to use all of the features of the system.” Road Runner’s goal was not to eliminate production staff, but rather to expand the number of catalogs produced each year as the company grows, Galvan adds.

The $130 million Road Runner decided having a third party house its DAM system, rather than maintaining it inhouse, was more cost-effective for a company of its size. “We simply don’t have the resources for maintenance, and we don’t want to be a prepress house,” says Galvan. Plus, though Road Runner is not a high-fashion catalog, color is still critical enough that the company needs to maintain a relationship with a color house.

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