Partner Spotlight: eCentral

Cumulus, Canto’s DAM system, and the e-commerce system Magento work together perfectly –all thanks to the collaborative integration by Canto and eCentral. It takes minimal implementation effort to connect the two and profit from a highly productive integration. In an interview Christoph Lauber, founder of eCentral, tells us why his company decided to work together with Canto and explains the advantages of combining Magento with Cumulus.

Christoph Lauber, one of the founders and directing managers of eCentral GbR
Christoph Lauber, one of the founders and directing managers of eCentral GbR

Briefly describe your business venture and company.
The eCentral GbR is a web service provider based in Marburg, Berlin and Munich Germany. At the moment, we have eleven full-time and five freelance employees working with us. Between them, they have over 100 years of experience working in an online environment and thanks to them our services can cover everything from consulting, concept and design to software development and infrastructure. Naturally, this has been instrumental, especially for some of our more ambitious projects.

What e-commerce trends do you see emerging and what is the biggest challenge ahead?
It’s a fact that e-commerce is no longer in its fledgling stages. I would even say that by now entire industries are dependent on the Internet as their sales channel. And even though in-person trade seems to be on the losing side, we can see converse tendencies arise as well: online businesses set up and open stores. This is something new, that will significantly change what is required of the usage of existing data.

More than ever, the retailer is expected to offer a consistent shopping experience. Given that, every slip-up can be fatal. The keyword now is multichannel: As a provider I have to be quick off the mark and ensure that my client can find his offers and services everywhere.

What is your role at eCentral?
I am a founder and one of the two partners in the firm. In addition to administration, I’m responsible for consulting and take part in project management.

How did the collaboration between eCentral and Canto come about?
Years ago, Canto had already made an excellent first impression, when we worked together on a global project for the production of promotional material for more than 20 different markets. A task that of course made high demands on asset management. Together with Canto, the project was taken care of quickly and everything went absolutely smoothly.

With an experience like that, it is somewhat self-explanatory that we wanted to work with Canto again. The geographical proximity and the fact that Cumulus is an ideal supplement to Magento, were just additional pluses in this great collaboration.

What is the difference between e-commerce and a DAM system?
An e-commerce system like Magento can become a sales platform that merges different systems; ecommerce may combine inventory management with logistics and an appealing front end – namely the online web store. It can be used as an additional distribution channel, but can also replace others.

A DAM system focuses on the permissions, expiration dates and overall management of digital files and can integrate with a variety of different systems, including the e-commerce system Magento.

Magento too, includes a small asset management feature that on one hand focuses on the goods, but on the other hand can be used by normal content pages. It can in no way keep up with what Cumulus does – for us this was a reason to put the matter on our agenda.

How do e-commerce and DAM complement one another? And how do Magento and Cumulus?
Both systems represent a main focus that they excel at. Now, someone operating an online shop, who naturally has a large amount of digital assets to manage, would be well off to implement both systems in parallel from the beginning. This way, all relevant processes can operate at their best.

Magento is a powerful e-commerce system. To meet high demands concerning brand integrity, legal protection, reliable product information and more, Cumulus can be integrated in the background. The combination of the two tools delivers on every aspect of what the market demands.

How did you decide to integrate Cumulus? What are the advantages?
We decided to integrate Cumulus as a module in the Magento back end. Our first priority was to account for Magento’s strict requirements for template storage, so that using Cumulus would still work smoothly; even if we, for example, changed the design or needed it to collaborate with other modules. A key element here is to not disrupt Magento’s existing asset management. And I think one can say that we succeeded.

Additionally, we factored in the content manager as a user of Magento’s back end, for whom the system had to be kept simple too. In other words: an asset manager shouldn’t have to switch between programs, just because he would like to change the assets used. Cumulus definitely offers superior digital asset management – but it was important for us, that the system would be operated from Magento’s back end. The result is meant to support the everyday workflow of the people involved.

Talking about “one step ahead in all matters asset management”: During implementation, any duplication of files will be avoided. All images added through Cumulus will be drawn directly from the image factory! This means that the well-known caching mechanisms or even the phenomena of ‘old, but forgotten’ assets on pages of the shop are no longer a problem – which offers another advantage for this integration.

Can you describe how customers use the combination of both systems and what workflows are covered by it?
In principle, there is not much that changes for users of both systems: But no longer keeping the assets separate and laboriously sorted means saving valuable time. The content manager continues to work in his usual Magento environment, but has easy access to the well-structured storage and search function of Cumulus.

The same holds for the asset manager in Cumulus. All is as it were, yet there is an added bonus: each asset used in Magento is earmarked by Cumulus. This is a convenient solution and creates a better overview of where and how which assets are used. With better oversight comes better control that extends the asset manager’s options considerably.

The combination of both systems allows everything relevant to be included in one place. All aspects of asset management are covered on both sides. The functional range even includes expiring licenses of assets that are then automatically removed from the web store.

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