Online retail: showcasing digital assets for increased conversions

By Janniche Moe, Director of Product, FotoWare. 

Shopping habits have changed completely over the past few decades and rapidly more so over the past few years. At the end of 2019, some retailers were still surviving with a basic, or even a zero, online presence. After nearly 12 months of Covid-19 even the most resilient of physical retailers are using digital assets such as images and videos to promote their wares, and investing increasingly in e-commerce development.

Photo by Artificial Photography on Unsplash

Retailers with a significant online presence now have thousands of images and videos, even tens of thousands and more in their digital asset libraries. These retailers must display and showcase digitally in order to win over online shoppers who are today even less reluctant to buy products they’ve never seen in person. Their “libraries” may currently be just folders in Google Drive or Dropbox. Thus, the volume of digital assets internet retailers use has grown and along with it we are seeing equivalent and growing demand for digital asset management (DAM) platforms. DAM systems are now just as important for commerce as stock management and retail management systems.

The growth of DAM for online retail is not just driven by the volume of digital assets online retailers must use. This rapid rise is also fed by an increasingly complex number of formats and the number of photos or videos per product as well as the number of channels and volume of promotion a retailer must employ to be successful, whether that is via social media, email or more traditional advertising methods. Many leading retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Lindex and Desigual are now embracing DAM to control their digital files..

Retailers use design files and presentations as well as images and videos, and today even AI and machine learning and “phygital” or augmented reality dressing rooms. A CMSwire Report in recent years found retail employees can spend more than 10 hours per week searching for digital assets to use in their product promotion efforts.  A  recent analysis shows that 72% of survey respondents declared that the number of digital assets they managed has grown over the last 12 months, and 48% see automating this asset management as a priority for 2021. 

Massive competition for online retailers means they must put products in front of consumers in the fastest possible time and represent products in the best possible way. This could be across numerous retail channels or outlets and use digital media in many formats, including in product listings, adverts, and in social media posts.

For retailers with numerous outlets and resellers, channel managers must be able to access the right imagery easily and its use must be consistent.. With DAM systems, assets are searchable and easy to publish and they can even be pre-tagged with the keywords the search engines require and love. Digital asset management software also allows images and videos to be grouped together with formats, sizes, and alternative shots, so they are all easy to view and find.

A DAM system gives life to digital assets rather than them existing just as many thousands of drive files. Employees can access a central image web portal, resellers can access just the images they need, and DAM systems can be integrated with Product Information Management (PIM) systems for even greater efficiencies. Indeed, DAM and PIM are different solutions playing different roles and it’s not necessarily a question of one or the other. They work as a great team together with a capability that complement each other.  

With asset management already a priority for 2021, workflow automation and also the ability for teams to work and access images remotely and securely are also trends for retailers to consider in 2021. There are many benefits to using DAM systems, and in particularthe use of metadata for saving time to retrieve files was voted a positive feature by 66% of digital asset managers. Metadata also helps with finding files, archiving, and rights management.

On the flipside, one perceived barrier to DAM usage is the time required for the initial data migration to use such a new and comprehensive system, however the time spent on migration is soon covered by the time saved with digital assets that are easy to store, categorise, find and share. A simple DAM ROI calculator reveals that an organisation with 50 employees working with visual, brand and marketing assets, where one employee earns £20 an hour, can save 31,250 hours and £625,000 per year on searching for files by using a digital asset management solution.

DAM allows image creation, distribution, and fast curation while giving brand consistency across all sellers and channels. It improves relationships between 3rd parties and image creators and marketing teams, and uploading and transcoding can be automated using DAM workflows.

A good DAM system will feature many integrations, for example, we have developed a WordPress plugin so that assets can be inserted directly into new blog posts along with their metadata which is a fantastic benefit for SEO. Images can also be edited and resized directly allowing for easy compatibility no matter when an image needs to be used. Full featured mobile applications ensure that teams on the go can be just as efficient as their desk-based colleagues, for instant uploading of new images, directly from the photo gallery so content creators can quickly share new media files with colleagues or have them ready to publish just as instantly.

Potentially most critical, the use of DAM adds efficiencies and saves time, leaving more time for employees and sellers to focus on producing the best product presentation they can and hence achieve higher sales and conversion rates. There is more time to spend on adding more, or selecting better, images for product listings. There is also more time to focus on market leading augmented reality features or to produce detailed product videos to better showcase product features. With DAM, retailers can meet market demand, reaching consumers with their products far quicker.

Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

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