How Do You Know If You Need A DAM System?

Published On: March 19th, 2024|By |4.8 min read|

There are many digital asset management systems available today.
To pick the right one, you must understand your pain points and your organization’s requirements.

With the appearance of desktop publishing and digital photography in the 1990s, there was a “big bang” of sorts. The sheer volume of digital assets—photos, illustrations, and later videos and audio—grew exponentially. As our devices gave us more and more power to create digital assets, keeping track of them became harder and harder. Just count the number of images in your photo gallery app, multiply that by the number of devices out there, and you’ll get the idea.

For retail creative services managers, production managers, and their IT counterparts, this is not a trivial problem. By some estimates, retail marketing teams can spend as much as three weeks out of a year looking for digital files, not to mention the labor involved in using those files in print and digital media workflows. Besides the drain on efficiency, there are also the costs of using the wrong image or an outdated one—lost sales, returns, and damage to the retailer’s reputation. The ever-present threat of security breaches also enables unscrupulous players to misrepresent products or sell knock-off versions.

DAM Basics

Of course, the obvious solution is a robust Digital Asset Management or DAM system. Such a system must store each asset in a secure but accessible location. However, it must also maintain the proper identifiers (SKU number, name, modification, creation date, manufacturer, visual thumbnail, and more, known as metadata) for each item. These identifiers allow humans and production systems to find and utilize each asset with minimal manual effort. And it must do so—quickly and accurately—for every product or part currently sold by the retailer. That could easily add up to millions of assets.

As an added wrinkle, a good DAM system for retailers must also connect with related information about the actual products, such as that found in a Product Information Management (PIM) system or an inventory or pricing database. It must also connect seamlessly with print and online ad production systems, including those based on Adobe InDesign.

Finding the Right System – Seven Questions

  Every large organization needs to store, organize, and share digital content. For non-retailers, the needs may be more straightforward—from brand identity elements and presentations to internal communications documents. Publishers’ needs are more complex, but the most demanding DAM requirements are those of retailers responsible for reselling millions of branded products made by other companies.

To identify a retailer’s need for a DAM system—or for a system better than the one they’re using—the best place to start is by asking questions about the retailer’s pain points and requirements, such as:

  1. Typically, how long does it take to locate the right digital asset—and be confident that it’s the most recent version of the file?
  2. How common is the inadvertent use of off-brand or outdated digital content?
  3. Are the organization’s digital assets stored securely and fully accessible to authorized individuals?
  4. Are approvals required to use or modify digital assets?
  5. Is there sufficient storage for present and future digital assets, either in the cloud, on-site, or a combination of both?
  6. Do digital assets need to be shared internally, externally, or both?
  7. Do you need to track how and where digital asset files are used?

Answering the above questions will provide most businesses with a clear picture of their need for DAM. But for retailers, the requirements are even more intense.

  The very nature of retail campaigns creates other demands. Due to the rapid turnaround times for print and digital media channels, with scores of products per campaign, the DAM must also be bi-directional. Changes in the data, such as the existence of a modified or updated product photo, must automatically update the layout right up to the point where the piece is printed. The update must happen for digital media at any moment—even after the digital ad is published. Similarly, the DAM must accommodate that change if the data are modified on the production side, such as a photo retouch made with the appropriate permissions.

The Optimum Solution

DAM is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s also not something that can function well in isolation from other IT resources. But when an organization cannot satisfactorily answer the above seven questions, it’s time for a change. Most DAM systems, even the competent, enterprise-level ones, do not meet large retailers’ unique needs running multichannel marketing campaigns.

On the other hand, the DAM approach in Comosoft LAGO was built with those retailers’ needs in mind. From its origins as a print catalog automation system, LAGO has evolved rapidly into a multichannel planning, production, and campaign management system for retail creative and production services managers. The system provides its own cloud-based or on-premises DAM module but also works with other third-party DAM systems. Above all, LAGO treats digital assets not as isolated information but as integrated parts of a highly complex process.

LAGO’s DAM resources are well integrated with the related data in the product information management (PIM) system and the retailer’s pricing, inventory, and sales history databases. Combined, these data sources are used to facilitate multi-version catalog and circular production using Adobe InDesign, and the results are exported to online and mobile applications.

The big DAM question for retailers is not merely, “Where the heck is that file?” More importantly, the big question is, how can a digital asset—and millions of others—be orchestrated into an ongoing, sustainable, and genuinely multichannel campaign?

Find out more about Comosoft LAGO’s approach to DAM, and its potential to streamline and transform your retail data and marketing strategy. Or book a demo to see for yourself.

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