Mike Paxton, Digital Asset Management Specialist at Canto
"Today’s volume of content presents one of the greatest challenges to business potential, no matter how brilliant your products, strong the demand, or talented your team."
Date founded: 1990
What does your company do?
We provide a single cloud-based repository for retailers to store all of their content assets, including imagery and video. This comes with built-in features that allow them to make sense of this content at scale and improve team efficiency.
Customers have shifted more online during this pandemic and they are keen to educate themselves as much as possible when shopping. This includes following their favourite brands, and browsing multiple images and videos to get a feel for products as they would while in store.
Typically, retailers store these digital assets in many different places, and time is lost because teams are forced to search for them.
Our system cuts out that process completely, reducing it to a simple keyword search.
What is your USP and how do you work?
Today’s volume of content presents one of the greatest challenges to business potential, no matter how brilliant 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?
Instead of reliance on internal shared servers, or bulging Google Drive or Dropbox accounts, Canto solves this problem. We provide dedicated digital asset management (DAM) software, used by thousands of companies globally. We’re ranked as an industry leader on software user review site G2, and as a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, anyone with permission can securely access and collaborate on the files and content they need. It’s all accessible through your web browser.
The main reasons Canto is chosen by retailers are ease-of-use, our experience of similar use cases, and onboarding with Canto is usually weeks compared to a few months with others . Even the larger retailers want an intuitive system - there will often be quite a few users that are not tech savvy and Canto is the easiest to use option amongst our top competitors.
With image recognition, Canto can automatically tag objects and people within visual content, allowing it to be quickly indexed and searched through. In a single click you can see all your images and videos featuring, for example, an item like a hat or an umbrella, or a particular person.
Also, Canto’s portal feature leads in our field, allowing you to share a subsection of your image or content library with an audience of your choice. For retailers that have a studio we have workspaces which are private project areas where they can collaborate with agencies, retouchers etc. As Canto also has integrations with software like Adobe, design files are instantly saved back into Canto.
Which retailers do you work with?
We support a diverse range of brands and retailers in the UK and internationally. This includes well-known fashion names such as Birkenstock and Ralph Lauren, sports clothing specialists like Lowe Alpine and Rab; popular health & beauty brands including Aveda and eos; and consumer goods and electricals including Thermos and Sennheiser. Our software is also used by a diverse range of food retailers and brands, such as Godiva Chocolate and Fairtrade.
What do you see as the key challenges for retailers and suppliers in the near future?
Scaling up in the current climate brings both opportunities and challenges. Teams become stretched. With shoppers flocking online, the need for colleagues to work smarter, and be more organised and efficient will be a competitive differentiator.
Virtual teams and remote-working are now embedded in our work-life culture. More distributed staff and external partners mean clearer processes and intuitive ways of working will be needed. For example, those that allow new team members and third parties to seamlessly slot in.
Retailers often need to bring in agencies, contractors, freelancers, or other temporary staff to provide extra resource or expertise. Especially during busy times and to collaborate on both campaign planning and delivery. But sharing the files they need access to can be time-consuming.
The online and multichannel retailers that greatest succeed will be those that work smart with digital on all fronts.
What have been the main points in your expansion?
Canto was originally the pioneer of “on-premise” digital asset management. This required a company’s IT team to install and update software on individual computers and so tended to be the preserve of larger corporate organisations.
Since the explosion in broadband and 4G connectivity in recent years, we’ve moved to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering. This has opened the benefits of Canto to new and fast-moving businesses, as well as established brands, who prefer the more agile and affordable SaaS approach. It works for the pace of retail and ecommerce.
There’s no need for IT support – the software is intuitive to use, updates are automatic as we introduce new features, and setting up your files in a Canto library is quick and easy.
What targets are you aiming to achieve in the next five years?
Our software doesn’t stand still. We integrate with the likes of Adobe, Google and Microsoft to help our customers to work smarter every day. We’re constantly adding more features and our development is based on feedback from our customers and our deep understanding of emerging technologies that can help everyone to work in unison.
Canto has a proud history of supporting brands to manage their content better. Our major target is to build more trusted working partnerships with retailers and other brands, to help their teams unleash their potential.
A successful UK retailer has grown overseas and has teams working across different timezones requiring instant access to the same files, without any doubt over which is the latest version.
A consumer brand keeps a catalogue of products in one central location. This library is accessed by their commercial team to provide images and factsheets to partners and prospects.
Using Canto, a fast-growth ecommerce player creates a branded portal as an extension of their website, offering selected files for media and public download with the ability to capture contact details for those that do.
A fashion start-up is releasing its new seasonal range. A photographer shoots the new collection and uploads this to the company’s DAM library so it can instantly be accessed by multiple stakeholders for review. This eliminates the need for time-consuming downloads by each individual to their own Mac, PC, laptop or tablet.
An established retailer has multiple folders of imagery compiled over several years, with different saved name formats, including lots of photography of models, brand ambassadors and spokespeople. Thanks to facial recognition technology, these photographs can be instantly tagged saving considerable manual searching. Plenty of further tagging functionality means all other imagery, video and file types can be found quickly, by all staff.
Design, commercial and marketing teams regularly interface, and often quick modifications are required. As Canto integrates with design programmes like Adobe, fast, simple changes can be made to a design file in its central saved location, reducing time spent on edits and version control.