Stop Dreading Your Annual Catalog Update

Does updating your catalog every year cause you to lose heart? 

Knee-deep into the project, do you find yourself saying (like you said last year), There’s got to be an easier way to do this? 

Even with a modest product line, catalog projects can devour a lot of time. Details fall through the cracks, and typos that hid themselves during editing suddenly appear in the published copies. 

Now imagine that your catalog is 12,000 products thick. Sounds intense, right? 

Page through the aisles from your easy chair

GVS (Good’s Variety Store) in Versailles, Missouri, has operated a mail-order business since 1989. Conservative families across the nation depend on GVS for quality goods that fit a traditional lifestyle. GVS is beloved for its mix-and-match and quantity discounts, exclusive brands, and traditional essentials that are hard to find anywhere else. 

But before GVS’s mail-order catalog comes to rest in the hands of a busy mother holding a sleeping baby, it has accrued hours and hours of toil. 

As new technologies blossom, however, those hours keep shrinking. The hero? Automation.

What is catalog automation?

Catalog automation is a complex system of databases, spreadsheets, and computer programs that allow users to construct, replace, and organize whole sections of catalog content.

Over the last eight years, Rosewood and GVS have been learning and applying more techniques of catalog automation during the mammoth process of publishing a catalog.

Every year GVS publishes a new catalog. They remove old products and add new ones at a rate that doesn’t disturb the set number of pages allotted to each section.

GVS’s catalog is an anomaly in its complexity. It is 300 pages long and 13 sections deep with multiple templates used throughout the catalog. Aaron says, “Sometimes the templates might display products in horizontal rows. Many times the products are in vertical columns. Every template is a little different.”

The building blocks of catalog automation


GVS creates spreadsheets with layout information for the catalog. Each product has a dedicated row which lists picture information, description, price, SKU, category, subcategory, and so on. GVS sends these spreadsheets to Rosewood.


Rosewood team members, Melody and Phyllis, use a software called EasyCatalog that converts these spreadsheets into rows and columns of crisp-looking products. After the automated process, Phyllis and Melody then manually glean through the pages, tweaking any mistakes and notifying GVS if any of the mistakes come from a problem in the spreadsheets. 


To keep this process on track, Rosewood and GVS share a document with each milestone and its accompanying deadline. (GVS completes “such-and-such” by this date.) (Rosewood finishes “x, y, z” by this date.) Phyllis Miller, the Rosewood employee with the most experience in catalog automation, says: “We have been very proactive at hitting those dates. GVS’s initiative helps make them an outstanding automation customer.”

How is automation helping GVS?

1. Catalog automation saves time. 

Aaron Burkholder from GVS says, “It’s difficult to express how much time it takes to do a catalog like ours. Back in the day [before automation], catalog production was a tremendous investment of time. It’s phenomenal how much time savings there are with EasyCatalog.”

However, the journey to get there required significant time investment for GVS. “We’re only really now starting to reap the benefits of the EasyCatalog experience,” Aaron says. “For a lot of smaller businesses, EasyCatalog would be phenomenal from the start.”

Because of the complexity of the catalog, the process of customizing an automation solution for GVS was an arduous one. But the payoff is worth it.  

Indeed, as everyone’s expertise grows, GVS is on the brink of another breakthrough that will save even more time. Instead of automating from spreadsheets, Rosewood will be able to access one database that is the single source of truth for every product in the catalog, eliminating the back-and-forth of spreadsheets.

2. Catalog automation improves organization. 

GVS needs to know exactly which page each product is on. It’s part of customer service. If customers call in asking where to find a certain item, the agent can quickly and easily point them to the right page number. 

Phyllis, the Rosewood designer who knows GVS better than any other non-GVSer, says, “As our automation process has improved, we have been able to give GVS more control over which product lands on which page. Automation has simplified the catalog process.”

Aaron agrees, “At first when we switched over to EasyCatalog and spreadsheets, it felt random because now we were staring at this huge spreadsheet trying to imagine exactly how this was going to work out on paper. The controls that Rosewood has given us in the last couple years have been hugely helpful.”

3. Catalog automation tightens accuracy. 

The old methods of putting together a catalog left loopholes. With automation, “accuracy is greatly improved,” Phyllis says. 

Aaron says, “We are really grateful for Rosewood’s catalog automation services. There is no other way that I’m aware of to put together a catalog of this type and size with this efficiency. The fact that Rosewood can do catalog automation is wonderful.”

Need help with your catalog?

GVS is a legacy client who has joined the Rosewood Marketing Guide Path™. At this point, most of their marketing is direct mail or print ads–catalogs, flyers, postcards, and ads. 

Are you interested in building marketing momentum with catalog design, print advertising, or digital marketing? Check out our updated website to learn more about our proven path. 

About the Author Cari Hochstetler is a copywriter at Rosewood Marketing. She enjoys seeing creativity bring wonder and hope to the world. Contact Cari at