From design ideas to customer checkout – why better creative workflows deliver better retail performance

Mike Paxton, Chief Revenue Officer, Canto

Streamlining collaboration, eliminating confusion, reducing costs, ensuring quality, creating accountability. Sounds good, right?

Any retailer aspires to these attributes for their organisation. But it’s far easier said than done.

At the heart of achieving this is a great workflow. In other words, the steps your team and suppliers take when working alongside each other to accomplish your business goals.

From design development through to product merchandising, the high volume of internal interactions between team members and external parties means that effective communication and clear, consistent ways of working can significantly impact your bottom line.

What do we mean by ‘creative workflow’?

A creative workflow is the set of steps that team members follow when producing digital content. For retailers, such content is vast, spanning design files, photography, graphics, video, audio, documents, presentations, and more.

Every team in every business has established processes they endeavour to follow. The objective is to provide everyone a common template to work to, which brings clarity to individual roles and drives productivity and understanding among colleagues. There is no need to reinvent the wheel for every new design, product launch, or marketing campaign.

Good creative workflows are an essential ingredient for teams to deliver work more efficiently without sacrificing quality or creativity. With a clearly defined system for producing content, you can reduce uncertainty and make it easier for your team to focus on their work.

Such workflows also allow creative teams to collaborate with external partners, like distributors, agencies and freelancers, more smoothly. And because new joiners to your team can be onboarded swiftly and provided with all the guidance they need to start creating quality content, the talent you hire can make a difference right away with less dependency on others. Imagine being able to say: “Our assets are always organised in this way, they have this accompanying information, we have automated notifications to help us manage assets, and we provide access to our external partners by doing this...”

Why should you improve your creative workflows?

Research we recently conducted with Ascend2 identified that 57% of those involved in digital content creation estimate they waste more than three hours a week trying to locate assets. This equates to roughly three and a half weeks annually that could be better spent planning and delivering campaigns, creating more content, and in turn boosting sales.

We found that teams with the right tech stack are happier. For example, users of digital asset management (DAM) platforms are more than twice as likely to be highly satisfied with how their organisation’s digital content is managed and stored.

Digital asset management has become a game changer in retail. Brands from Fairtrade to Fy!, and Giant Bicycles to Gymshark, are using it to store, share and organise all digital content in a secure and centralised location. You can get more out of your creative files such as images, videos, and other media by ensuring your team can find, share, and optimise your digital assets in real-time. Creative workflow fit for the reality of 2023!

How do you build a brilliant creative workflow?

Creative workflows can be as complex or simple as a project requires, but they typically consist of four basic elements: determine the project scope; create the content; review assets; and approve and hand off content. The same basic process applies to both in-house creative teams developing content for their own brand and outsourced agencies creating deliverables for a client.

Building out a creative workflow takes a bit of forethought, but it’s the best way to ensure your content team is working as efficiently as possible and that the resulting deliverables meet or exceed expectations. Once you’ve established a standardised approach to planning and executing projects, you can use the same process repeatedly and scale operations more effectively.

Our Ultimate Guide to Creative Workflows explains the seven-step process to build a creative workflow from scratch. Download the guide here.

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