Until 1996, the company promoted its products exclusively through a 68–page full–color catalog. But creating, printing, and distributing the catalog was becoming an increasingly expensive proposition. President and CEO Ralf Mandt–Rauch and his brother Ben Schob decided to re–create the entire catalog electronically for distribution on CD–ROM using FileMaker Pro. They were already familiar with FileMaker Pro, having used it to build the company's office automation solution, called Trilogy. (That solution has been such a success that the brothers spun off Logistiques Inc., a FileMaker Pro solutions developer.) The brothers also knew that FileMaker Pro would reliably support graphic images and videos so they could show their exclusive Virtual Samples and play movies in kiosk mode to prospective customers at trade shows. In 1997, they moved the catalog onto to the Web and changed the company name to Europawatch.com.
At the center of the Europawatch.com Web site is a fully searchable electronic catalog (called the iCatalog) that the company's 500+ North American distributors can access to search Europa's entire product line and find the exact watch to fit their promotion in just a few seconds. The rapid information retrieval is even more significant considering that almost every part of the watch is customizable and the company offers well over 300 models.
Europa's iCatalog lets distributors search the entire product line by categories such as model code, price range, color, and function, and instantly view a list of all models meeting that criteria. The result shows a list of items with thumbnail pictures (stored in FileMaker Pro as JPEG files). Clicking on any item brings up greater detail and an enlarged photo of the watch and its packaging. The iCatalog system also provides self–service support to distributors, letting them securely track the status of their orders and shipments. Soon the system will be expanded to alert distributors automatically via e–mail when orders have been delivered to their clients.