Hey Skubedo…what are you?

With apologies to the cartoon, Skubedo is no treat-loving mutt. Rather, it is an online solution that while pronounced the same as Scooby-Doo is focused on helping manufacturers, reps and retailers solve the problem of workbooks. Let's face it -- even the SNEWS® team ducks workbooks at trade shows because they are so heavy and, more often than not, they are outdated nearly by the time the show ends.

With apologies to the cartoon, Skubedo is no treat-loving mutt. Rather, it is an online solution that while pronounced the same as Scooby-Doo is focused on helping manufacturers, reps and retailers solve the problem of workbooks. Let's face it -- even the SNEWS® team ducks workbooks at trade shows because they are so heavy and, more often than not, they are outdated nearly by the time the show ends.

"Workbooks cost too much to typeset and print, are often outdated as soon as they come off press, and allow no flexibility for presenting different assortments to different accounts," Chris Harges, principal of Satellite Design, told SNEWS.

Harges noted that while this has been a problem for a while, the economy is forcing many manufacturers to try and solve these problems ASAP. Too often, though, the belief is that a company can simply create an online version of its workbooks or slap a digital version of a workbook on a memory stick.

"We're skeptical about how an online or digital-only tool could work on a sales call (especially in outdoor where some dealers don't have Internet access!). Most reps and buyers that I've spoken with aren't too excited about a web-only system," said Harges.

"It seems that everything from how brands envision the role of reps to the mechanics of order placing is in flux right now," Harges told SNEWS. "We want to focus on a smarter way to create the support materials for sell-in. And we want to do it in a way that doesn't force brands to sacrifice their brand look and feel in exchange for added functionality. Most of the other approaches we've seen force users to use a one-size-fits-all design."

Harges said he believes the ideal workbook solution is a hybrid: some paper and some electronic. To work well, workbooks need to function within the context of a sell-in process where a rep shows samples and a buyer evaluates style, specs and price, and sketches out a buy, he said. For most buyers, this means note-taking -- which also means paper.

"We may see the day where reps and buyers can sit behind their respective laptops and conduct a sales call, but most reps and buyers tell us that we're not there yet. Buyers like paper," said Harges.

Which is why Skubedo excels -- it's flexible and allows the best of both worlds. The genesis for the idea was a back-end solution Satellite Design already had in place to help its clients automate the typesetting and printing process for workbooks -- a tool it has used to produce workbooks for folks such as The North Face and Westcomb.


"A light bulb went on over our heads one day," Harges said. "We have this automated back end, and realized that if we simply put a designed front end on it, suddenly companies and account reps could access workbook information at will and be able to create subsets of workbooks that are account specific -- saving time, paper and money."

While Skubedo was created as an add-on solution for clients, it has morphed into a full-service option for anyone, simply because it can cost-effectively be used to output hi-resolution PDFs that can be given to a printer to produce traditional workbooks.

"But the beauty of Skubedo is that, using templates we have created, a brand retains its unique look and feel, and using the database that was created to set up the initial print mechanicals, a manufacturer can instantly create account-specific workbooks, closeout books, special features workbooks and more," said Harges.

"You can do so many things. It is different for anyone. Instead of printing 1,000 150-page workbooks -- and very often a given dealer might carry only 30 out of the 200 styles available -- a rep can generate a customized PDF and print that out, so a store only sees and receives as much paper as they need."

Less paper, easily updated database meaning there is no need for workbooks to ever be out of date, less cost, customized presentations to retailers, and still paper to write on in meetings. Harges told us it's hard for him to see any downside to Skubedo at all. 

Naturally, we thought of one and asked Harges about the challenges of accurately presenting colors on the web and in print.

"This is a universal problem with everything from print workbooks to online B2B sites. Truth be told, the images in workbooks and catalogs are never really 100-percent color accurate. The only way around this is to do cards with actual fabric swatches and most brands moved away from this years ago because they're really expensive to produce," said Harges.

"Based on research with reps and buyers, we believe that buyers make color and style decisions based on samples presented at the sales call. For pre-season orders, the workbook images are icons or reminders to help dealers connect a product shown in the workbook with the sample they liked as they finalize their buy in the time between the sales call and actually placing their order. For fill-ins, they're buying a color that they had already stocked. In either case, it's unlikely that they'd be choosing colors or evaluating products using only a workbook." 

As for any other possible benefits -- though it is not yet being used this way -- would be for a company to create a B2B website skin and use the database it has in Skubedo to create its own dealer website interface, Harges said. That data could, conceivably, even link up with any number of order management suppliers, like Centerstone for example.

For more information, go to www.skubedo.com or send an email to chris@satellite-design.com.

--Michael Hodgson


Color trends for spring 2008: What to know before you buy

Hard to believe, but trade show season is already here...again. As you sit through numerous line presentations, flip through countless workbooks, and write orders for what you hope will be well selling products, keep these key spring 2008 color trends in mind: Fresh colorsIn the ...read more

Fitness: Did you hear?...

For the week of April 19-25 >> Rumors passed quickly on Thursday afternoon, April 21, and Friday, April 22, when the phones at Spirit Fitness either just rang and rang with no answer whatsoever or were answered with an odd quick busy signal. On the heels of the full buy-out by ...read more

crowd of people gathered at registration desk of Grassroots Connect show

What you missed at Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect Show

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect show went down as planned over the weekend, despite the cancellation of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, which was to be held in the days following Connect. Connect is a critical microcosm and bellwether of the outdoor industry, and SNEWS was ...read more


Economic update: What leading indicators may mean to you

The good news is the recession appears to be turning. The bad news is few are predicting an easy or fast recovery. SNEWS® knows the current economic state is important for your business. This is one look at different ways it's affecting our industries and your business in a ...read more

What size is YOUR catalog?

It turns out that despite what you may have heard, read, or otherwise believed, size does matter. Well, OF COURSE, we're talking about product catalogs, and we just can't keep quiet any longer. Since the last trade show -- February we think, but can't be sure because all the ...read more

Fitness: Did you hear?...

For the week of Jan. 11-17 >> A month after a harsh review appeared in Consumer Reports magazines that called Icon products "lemons," the company's CEO has commented about the report with what he called frustration. Despite several emails and voicemails seeking comment by SNEWS® ...read more

The what and whys of the new Super Show structure

Realizing that the glitzy Super Show of yore can be no more, show management has moved to restructure the event to add more reasons for retailers to attend and manufacturers to exhibit -- other than trade show booths. "This is part of a long-term effort to make The Super Show ...read more


Health & Fitness Business show wants to know what you think: Survey to assess show needs, opinions, future

As the fitness industry continues to debate its retail show and where it’s going, show operator Nielsen Business Media is launching a survey that wants to know what retailers and exhibitors want. The concise survey, already mentioned by show director Andy Tompkins in a Q-and-A ...read more


Power Players' Lounge: What keeps you up at night?

In January 2009, SNEWS® named the industry's first class of outdoor industry Power Players (click here to read). "Insight and inspiration provide an edge that everybody can use in these economic times," SNEWS reported when it announced the Power Players. "Both can be found by ...read more