An Everyday E-commerce Content Overview
It seems that for any function within an eCommerce platform there are SaaS solutions available to have you covered. You don’t have to build in-house because there’s a company or system dedicated to solving the issue, complete with a specialized support team ready to take care of any issues that may arise. There’s Master Data Management (MDM) for back-end data, Product Information Management (PIM) for bringing all of the product info together, Digital Asset Management (DAM) for asset records and retrieval. Finally Content Management Systems (CMS) for serving up all of this information and coordinating with the Warehouse Management System (WMS) for linking up to the location of the physical goods and the orders placed on the client’s front-end. And we won’t even begin to get into all of the many thousands of other services and products built around marketing and project management. But the big question from a Studio Production perspective is how do the assets and information make it from a virtual instance in the MDM, a physical product arriving in the WMS, to having finished assets in the DAM and customer-facing details and copy in the PIM/CMS? What is the Studio Production Workflow?
The Most Common Answer to These Questions?
A nasty, tangled and painstakingly manual web of google sheets, spreadsheets, hard drives, FTP, emails, and reported hand counts or ANTAPMWGSSHDFERHC.
For someone who works in this space daily, you’ll know exactly where we are coming from. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ve got some kind of report to tell you what’s been received in your warehouse but not been transferred into the studio. Maybe it’s a combination of a report of what products are pending images and/or copy in your DAM/PIM/CMS that you use to reconcile against what’s been received in the WMS? Maybe you’re like one of the clients we’ve worked with where you don’t know what you’re going to be shooting until the warehouse delivers random shipments to you? But one thing that’s almost always certain, once the physical product arrives in studio, it enters a sort of “black hole” of what products have received what part of the production process.
Most managers of the Studio and Content Production process do their best to pull together multiple reports, and data collection, often finding themselves wasting lots of time chasing down issues raised by Buying, Planning, and Merchandising teams like “When is this product/brand/etc. going live?” I know this because I’ve been managing large Studio and Content operations for close to 10 years.
The Daily Problems of a Production Team
We have always been a believer of the People, Process, Technology philosophy when it came to Process improvement. For those of you not familiar with this, you essentially break down the goals of a project and assess each of the three areas accordingly. From our personal experience, most Production Manager’s out there, are often challenged with how do we produce more products, at a lower cost, while maintaining quality standards? The unicorn scenario if you will.
For us, it was a breakthrough of sorts to realize that I could potentially achieve “the unicorn” if we had a technology that could free up our team’s time from manual tasks leading to higher productivity, which in turn drives down costs, without having to sacrifice quality (styling, framing, etc). A software solution could do the heavy lifting in removing manual errors and time wasted on reconciling these reports. A centralized system where all stakeholders in the process could contribute their respective tasks and the system could keep track and give reporting along the entire pipeline.
Unfortunately, like most Production Manager’s out there, we were unable to be given any kind of priority or resources from the internal tech team, the idea first came to our founder while working full-time as Head of Content Production.
So to make a long story short, because of the obvious gap in the market, the inability to get prioritized by internal tech teams, and the lack of end-to-end solutions in the market, we (myself and now CTO) decided to create our own company and product, enter: Studio Bridge. Studio Bridge is what we believe to be the answer to achieving “the unicorn”.
The inception of Studio Bridge as an Efficient Studio Production Workflow
At a very high-level Studio Bridge “bridges” the gap between the MDM, WMS, CMS, PIM, and DAM. It accepts and applies studio and copy related rules based on backend data of the products, and “feeds” the downstream systems with final images and copy. All of the decisions that are made along the studio process are captured for reporting purposes and provides one centralized platform where Photographers, Retouchers, QA, Copywriters, Editors, and Managers can see what products are pending what in the process and create said content.
The team at Studio Bridge understands that not all studio production workflow is the same, so we’ve built Studio Bridge in such a way where we can customize it to meet your individual business needs. At the end of the day every operation faces the same challenges, how do I get products online faster, at lower costs, zero errors, and on quality? It doesn’t take some fancy robot machine to automate the images (which we strongly feel that there’s nothing more versatile than a set of Profoto strobes, camera, and skilled photographer) or an army of people working around the clock to reconcile and build reports.
We believe that if you get the technology to support your process and people, then achieving the unicorn isn’t as impossible as once thought.