How Leading Retailers are Using DAM to Deliver Better Shopping Experiences

With the right DAM system and workflows in place, your business can gain efficiencies and deliver more consistent experiences at scale.

Kao, creators of many well-known consumer brands, launches more than 1,000 new products every year — and each of those launches means thousands of digital assets that need to be available and accessible to designers, marketers, and retail partners.

Given the pace of Kao’s launches, it’s not uncommon for their digital assets to top 500,000 active images, audio clips, and video. In the past, this volume slowed down their processes.

“We would have to work with a developer just to change a single letter on a website,” says Tsuyoshi Tanaka, manager of Kao’s Office of Communication and Technology for the Digital Marketing Center. Considering the numerous sites, many of which are translated into dozens of languages, these slowdowns were common, and cost Kao time and resources.

Integrating a better experience

Now, Kao’s global teams create and share templates, developing web pages which can be translated in-market for the local languages and dialects. By migrating to Adobe Experience Manager Assets — Adobe’s digital asset management (DAM) solution — Kao simplified its workflows with faster content localization and easier site updates. Together, these workflow improvements have cut turnaround times while reducing content costs by 20 percent.

Yet, effectively managing digital assets isn’t just a problem that Kao is solving for itself — digital asset management is a major pain point for many e-commerce companies, including countless retailers Kao partners with.

“Today’s customers expect more,” says Elliot Sedegah, group manager, Strategy & Product Marketing for Adobe Experience Manager. “They’re purchasing more and more online, and they need to see more visuals to get the confidence to ‘add to cart’ and make a purchase.”

Now, he notes, a single image isn’t enough. “Customers want a 360-degree view of a product they’re considering purchasing. They want to be able to zoom in and scrutinize every detail ‘first hand.’”

When customers spot something they like, they want to see every variation or even “try on” their selection, placing it alongside complementary pieces.

For e-commerce companies, it has become the new standard to deliver these robust, digital asset-heavy experiences and satisfy customer expectations. Still, depending on how digital assets are managed, the volume of this content and the workflow could be a nightmare for an organization.

Creating experiences anchored in assets

Managing digital assets can appear easy, especially for smaller companies, but as an e-commerce brand grows and its inventory expands, what seemed straightforward before will become complicated. This isn’t limited to major retailers and brands either. Smaller brands, independent retailers, and online shops are also likely to feel the strain as they grow.

“Take a small retailer, with 10 products,” Elliot says. “If they want to have 10 assets for each product — different views, different colors, video, for example — they’re suddenly at 100 assets.”

But it doesn’t stop there.

“This same e-commerce site also needs to create variations based on which channel customers are coming from — if there are 10 channels, your e-commerce site now has 1,000 assets to manage, for just those 10 products. Take it a step further, and localize those assets for different countries and different languages, and 10 products could mean 10,000 assets.”

Creative teams are often tasked with managing these assets, and many try to use a simple manual process. But, as the number of assets multiply, the time it takes to organize them skyrockets, and so do the rate of error, lost or missing files, and frustrated customers seeing broken links or outdated assets.

“When customers are shopping and there aren’t the correct product images on the page — say the 2017 edition is showing up where there should be 2018 models — you start to see a lot of customer satisfaction issues,” Elliot says. “And you even see a lot of conversions die on that page, just from not having the correct piece there.”

Overcoming asset overload

Before a leading athletic apparel company tapped Adobe Experience Manager Assets as their digital asset management (DAM) solution, the team stored digital assets — 40,000-plus per season — in individual folders on a shared drive.

The problem, though, extended beyond these internal inefficiencies. “Many apparel companies rely on retailers to carry their brand and drive new sales,” says Elliot. When brands sell through partner retailers, it’s especially important to make digital asset management seamless. If retailers can’t find the assets they need, they may opt to post an old or outdated visual, or simply leave existing site content up. From a sales and branding perspective, that’s a problem.

When this apparel company shifted to AEM Assets, their process improved immediately. The cloud-based solution gives employees and partners access to the right asset in seconds. This apparel brand’s partners can now find the right assets easily, and employees no longer spend time and budget duplicating creative content.

Beyond that, the apparel brand now saves about 400 employee hours per year, time that was previously spent uploading assets, identifying duplicates, and eliminating manual report creation. By creating a simple self-serve DAM portal, it’s easier for their teams to market and sell products on their own site as well as on partner sites.

“The easier you make it for your partners to access creative content that will help them sell your products, the better your product moves — imagine that,” Elliot says.

Creating added collaboration and consistency

While any brand can benefit from DAM, e-commerce companies may appreciate this technology the most since they are the window to the customer.

“With a DAM, e-commerce teams — creative teams, marketing teams, advertising teams, and social teams — can work much more collaboratively to leverage the content once it’s centralized,” says Elliot. Having a single source of truth, he notes, is essential to keeping teams in step and customer experiences consistent and on brand right where the customer is: in the actual buying process.

Choosing the right DAM for your e-commerce business

When selecting and structuring a DAM system, consider who’s involved in creating and managing your brand’s digital assets. Adobe Experience Manager natively integrates with Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise so that creative organizations can work marketing to better collaborate and manage assets at every stage of design, development, and delivery.

Additionally, Adobe Asset Link will better connect creative and marketing teams. By integrating creative tools together, Asset Link will eliminate the need for users to leave apps such as Photoshop CC or InDesign CC to find an asset. This protects the integrity of the image, as creatives and marketers no longer have to make copies of the original or break the workflow. “Teams are working on a single source of truth, in a very seamless way,” says Elliot. “That drives greater content velocity.”

First, though, you need a DAM, Elliot says. “Stop saying, ‘I’ll do it next quarter.’ By next quarter your product repository will be even more built up. Starting now gives you the operational leverage to do more interesting things. Putting it off is fracturing your ability to grow.”

Learn more about the cutting-edge commerce shifts in Adobe’s Brick-and-Click Experience series now on the blog.