Keeping up growth: How online retail teams can work smarter

It’s been a heck of a year for online retailers. But being so busy means teams are increasingly stretched. Growth in sales and increasing profit is fantastic, of course; but scaling brings both opportunities and challenges. With shoppers flocking online and ecommerce booming, the need for teams to work smarter, and be more organised and efficient is greater than ever before.

More content and more dispersed teams

A rapidly increasing volume of digital content now threatens to slow down business potential, no matter how great your products, strong the demand, or talented your team.

Managing visuals from suppliers, plus your brand’s own content, and being able to find all these files quickly at a later date has become burdensome. Documents, presentations and spreadsheets all contribute to the content challenge. Where is everything securely stored? Who has access?

Typical use of shared servers or Dropbox-style services have their limitations – content is often not centralised to be contributed to or accessed by staff in multiple locations. It can also be a struggle to share the right assets with external marketing agencies, the media, or various partners. Having the right systems to keep visual content – from current product imagery, to archived files, to sales and marketing assets – well-organised is proving vital.

Coupled to this, many online retail teams have become far more dispersed this year, with most of those in procurement, design, marketing, sales, and other office-based functions, frequently or entirely working from home. Almost every team now uses a desktop collaboration tool – such as Slack or Teams – but how do you ensure smarter, more consistent ways of working when confronted by such huge volumes of digital content, as well as team members and partners working in different places?

The rise of new ‘digital asset management’ technology

Digital asset management (DAM) has been around for many years, but it tended to be used by big corporate organisations. However, it’s now become cloud-based – often referred to as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) – which has opened new opportunities for more businesses to benefit.

What does this terminology mean? Rather than requiring software to be physically installed and maintained on individual computers, team members – plus any approved external parties – can now securely access the same files via their web browser, no matter where everyone is based. SaaS is very flexible and affordable too, and updates are automatic.

How are retailers working smarter with this?

There are many advantages that are fuelling the adoption of DAM in online retail, but here are five main factors to consider:

1. Get everybody in your company working in the same way. No more saving to desktops, shared servers or full Dropbox and Google Drive accounts. DAM software requires everyone in a department or the entire company to save files in the same secure way, to be discoverable by others.

Plenty of online retail teams have grown this year. As a new joiner, being able to find content instantly, by being able to search for keyword tags or with the help of facial recognition, can help you to hit the ground running when searching, storing and sharing files. No more distracting of team-mates when locating and saving content.

With version control, the latest design or project files are clear for all to see – vital for internal and external collaboration on both new products and marketing campaigns. Great user experience is an expectation and DAM is designed so your team or external partners won’t need support to show them how to use the platform.

2. Provide appropriate access to third parties. It’s common for retailers to bring in agencies, contractors, freelancers, or other temporary staff to provide extra resources or expertise – but sharing the files they need can take up valuable time. It may not be appropriate to grant full access to a shared drive or folder to a third-party, but neither is it sensible to have to regularly split files into multiple folders. With DAM, admins can allow an approved individual or team access to only the files you require them to have. This is particularly useful for maintaining confidentiality, especially if sensitive for launch of new product ranges or sales promotions.

3. Tools and features to help different team members. Integration with design programmes such as Adobe Photoshop and InDesign means faster editing and file saves are synced, so everyone else immediately has access to the latest version. Facial recognition technology within DAM means team members can find all imagery featuring a particular model or brand ambassador in just a couple of clicks.

4. Cloud-based software is affordable and can grow with you. If your DAM usage increases, it won’t cause you a headache because it uses the likes of Amazon Web Services to offer ample storage capacity. Usage often accelerates once DAM is embedded into workplace culture and there are subscription models to suit different types of team and organisation usage.

5. Get started quickly. There’s no need to worry about the time and effort it will take to migrate your folders to a DAM platform. Such platforms are designed to make this a pain-free process and ensure you’re better organised right away. Uploading selected folders from a shared server or desktop to your DAM platform is fast, and if your team uses services like Dropbox, Box or Google Drive, you can easily sync these folders quickly too.

Online retailers need to identify every possible advantage to keep up growth and outperform competitors. Ensuring you have a team that works smarter and can perform at its best, is arguably just as important as your brand, product and pricing strategies.

 By Mike Paxton, digital asset management expert at Canto

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