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GUEST COMMENT: Why are more and more online retailers using digital asset management?

Image courtesy of Canto

With a surge in online shopping and deliveries this year, outsiders could be mistaken for thinking it’s been an easy ride for such retailers. Competition is rife, growth always brings challenges, and many internal operations have been subject to the obstacles of lockdown.

Along with this, one of the fastest-emerging challenges facing all online retailers is the increasing volume of digital content their teams must now manage. From imagery and video, to design files and presentations, to documents and spreadsheets, the number of files rises daily. How easy is it for your team to save, find and share assets, and all work in a consistent way? How much time might they be losing?

Shared servers and services like Google Drive, Box and Dropbox have access and storage limitations; but most of all they lack the functionality to help locate something quickly. And with team members now potentially working from home, it makes it harder to ask colleagues where things are saved or how to share them. Having the right systems to keep visual content – from product imagery to sales and marketing content – well-organised is proving vital.

This danger of ‘content overload’ is something many retailers are now tackling head on by using new digital asset management software.

What is digital asset management?

Digital asset management (commonly referred to as DAM) is a clever solution to help consistently store digital assets in a central location so they can easily be found and shared. It makes life easier for internal colleagues and enables fast, secure access for outside parties such as suppliers and agencies.

How are online retailers boosting productivity with DAM?

1. It gets everyone working in a consistent way. No more saving to desktops, shared servers or bulging Dropbox and Google Drive accounts. DAM software requires everyone to save files in the same secure way, to be discoverable by others. And when new team members join – which is a common scenario for online retailers right now – it immediately supports knowledge sharing. Existing assets can easily be found by new joiners, avoiding duplication of effort. Finding files and filtering results is aided with tags, keywords, facial recognition, and other smart features. You can search by file size and other factors such as by which designer, photographer, or document creator.

2. Integrations with other software you use daily. This is a great team productivity hack and where DAM comes into its own. Google Chrome and Microsoft Office plugins mean you can search your DAM library without leaving your browser-based email, document or presentation. Integration with Adobe Photoshop and InDesign allows faster editing of visual content for your designers. And instead of saving to a desktop or internal server and waiting for that to be shared, everyone can immediately access the latest file version, as saves sync with the centralised DAM system.

3. Provide appropriate and secure access to third parties. 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. It may not be appropriate to grant access to an entire shared drive or folder to a third-party, but neither is it desirable to have to regularly split files into several folders. With DAM, admins can allow an approved individual or team access to only the assets you need them to have. This security of allowing access to assets, particularly if sensitive for launch of new product ranges or sales promotions, can be very helpful.

How easy is it to introduce into my team?

A DAM solution can be up and running within hours. Easy importing allows effortless uploading of content from your shared server or services like Google Drive and Dropbox into your new DAM library. One of my favourite innovations as part of the setup process is facial recognition – you simply tag one image with a model or brand ambassador’s name, and then let the technology immediately identify and tag every other image you have featuring that person.

Staff training can often be a barrier to introducing new software, but the best DAM providers offer an intuitive user interface. This means most people can use it right away with little or no training.

The latest DAM software is cloud-based, which means anyone who is approved can access it anywhere, via their desktop web browser. It’s intuitive to use and there is no need for an IT team to install and update the software – as new features and functionality are added, users have immediate access to these.

Subscription models for this software make it cost-effective and scalable, whatever the size of your team or organisation. DAM uses the likes of Amazon Web Services to provide plenty of storage capacity no matter what size of business you are, and once DAM is adopted into workplace culture, we often see usage increases. The software can easily scale up with you.

As you plan how you will continue your growth in 2021 and beyond, consider whether digital asset management software could help your team to work smarter.


Mike Paxton, digital asset management expert, Canto.

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