Modern Retail

WFH + DAM = Collaboration and transformation for remote-working marketing teams

The retail sector hasn’t traditionally supported remote working. Shop assistants were based in-store, marketing and sales teams sat side-by-side at their desks, while IT teams were more often than not relegated to the basements of office buildings!

The rise of e-commerce has transformed working practices. IT teams have emerged as the nerve centre of operations and ‘shop assistants’ are now replying to customer queries on Twitter. As for marketing teams? Until a few weeks ago, little had changed for many marketers working for retail brands.

Marketing teams: then

In recent years, a large number of bricks-and-mortar stores have gone all-digital, and leaders like Amazon have made shopping online a seamless experience. However, the day-to-day tasks of many marketers have remained firmly stuck in the past. And marketers themselves have been stuck in their offices!

Overseeing marketing campaigns and updating websites requires marketers to access, edit, share, approve, publish and archive brand assets on a daily basis. In an office environment this may have involved emailing images to colleagues or sending large files like videos via WeTransfer. Confirming whether an image was approved for publication might have involved asking your colleague sitting next to you. Using existing brand assets for the launch of a new product line might have involved a brainstorming session with colleagues. Adhering to brand guidelines (using the right logo, the correct size font, the approved social media hashtags etc) involved collaborating with colleagues in person and firing off emails seeking approval or asking questions.

Face-to-face collaboration is great, but this workflow model also has the potential for inaccuracies and miscommunication, leading to inconsistencies with brand assets and involving more time-consuming processes.

Marketing teams: now

As with almost every other aspect of our lives, this office-based working scenario has now changed for the majority of marketers. COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown have meant many marketers are now working from home. Shared office spaces and face-to-face meetings with team members have been replaced with home offices, kitchen tables, Zoom conferences, clunky server access, and a dizzying array of collaborative applications all supposedly making your home working life more streamlined.

Maintaining brand consistency and abiding by brand guidelines in an office environment – and via the traditional approach outlined – can be hit and miss. However, try to replicate and implement this process at home, with other team members potentially hundreds of miles away, and you’re in for a real challenge. And all this, in addition to children off school and at home, housemates and partners streaming TV shows and straining your broadband, and the lack of routine the office environment provides.

We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented situation. The future is unpredictable. For retailers and marketing managers, difficult decisions regarding business strategy, budget and workflow will have been – and will have to be – made. Although daunting, now could therefore be the perfect time to reflect on how to make improvements to remote working operations that will continue to have a positive impact teams return to the office environment.

Time for change

These changes aren’t about cutting back on or curtailing the activities of your employees, but providing them with the toolkit needed to do their jobs better, faster and more collaboratively. This toolkit is a digital asset management (DAM) platform. Where once brands used their offices, desks and meeting rooms as collaborative spaces to exchange ideas about/edit/approve brand assets, they now have a centralised digital hub.

This hub (the core element of DAM software) can be accessed from wherever in the world your team members are based. Assets – from the most substantial video files and 3D animations to tiny snippets of text – can be stored in this central repository, alongside templates. A DAM solution means all of your brand’s assets are easily searchable using metadata and categories, with built-in features controlling the access permissions, and even converting the files to the right image size and format for all of your brand’s digital channels.

Whether it’s a video shared on Snapchat or a logo header for an email newsletter, features such as strict access and usage permissions, templates and collaborative editing mean that the look and feel of your brand is consistent at every touchpoint of consumer engagement. This will sound like a transformative way of working for many marketers – especially those whose teams are struggling to collaborate and stay on-brand whilst working from home. However, for others it’ll seem more tricky than transformative. As is very clear: ‘we’re currently experiencing an unprecedented situation. The future is unpredictable.’ And as such, implementing additional change can seem daunting.

Tricky or transformative?

Don’t forget though, that while many marketing teams and retailers will be unused to working from home, software developers and support teams manage customer queries remotely as default. A DAM solution can be implemented remotely, with set-up, training, troubleshooting and ongoing support all offered through chatbots, video calls and email via the internet or with representatives over the phone.

Working from home can be a challenge, especially for teams used to collaborating in offices in-person on a daily basis. Yet it is also the perfect time to identify pain points in the workflows of your marketing team and implement solutions that not only aid remote collaboration, but also vastly improve upon traditional ways of working in an office environment.

Working during the lockdown period will be remembered for some pretty challenging times: kids on conference calls, pyjamas from the waist down, and your internet slowing when your partner streams Netflix. It doesn’t have to be remembered for all the wrong reasons, though. Adopting a DAM solution now will enhance remote working for marketing teams, enable effective collaboration at scale, and – best of all – ensure a smooth transition when we finally return to our offices.

Contributor: Sairah Mojib, Head of Marketing, EMEA, Widen