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How Do DAM and E-Commerce Brands and Workflows Interact?

Ben Owen

By Ben Owen | Mar 24, 2022

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Where do you do most of your shopping? Odds are, the answer is “online.” Long gone are the days when window shopping dominated the purchasing process. According to Statista, over two billion people purchased goods and services online in 2021, or over 25% of the global population. Over 60% of shopping occasions begin online, whether or not they end in a brick-and-mortar store (Thinkwithgoogle, 2018). It’s clear that e-commerce is the present and future of every market in the world.

To be an effective retailer in today’s economy, you must effectively manage your website and the digital assets that comprise it. This is especially true if your customers can make purchases directly from your website. A huge reason for the rise in e-commerce is the ability it gives consumers to educate themselves on products they’re considering buying. This means that the impressions your product images and associated videos and photographs make can have a big impact on their purchasing decisions.

This is also true for digital marketing campaigns featuring product information, sales, and other promotions. These allow your organization to break through the everyday routines of potential customers and engage them with meaningful content. Central to all these efforts are digital assets, the materials used in website and marketing emails which compel consumers to click the “Add to Cart” button. Managing these assets effectively has a direct impact on your e-commerce efforts. Below, we outline how your organization can leverage digital asset management (DAM) to fuel effective e-commerce.

The Cost of Doing Nothing

You may be asking yourself, “How hard could managing this stuff be? We aren’t a huge brand with thousands of products.” Even so, with assets needing to find their way across many different channels at exactly the right time, having a scalable system in place for when you do need to make changes to your website is critical. Below are some examples of how ineffectively managing your digital assets can affect your e-commerce efforts.

  • The inability to find specific product images when needed forces users to either recreate assets or use off-brand content. Recreating assets costs both time and money; using off-brand content confuses consumers and reduces brand loyalty.
  • Your methods for sharing marketing assets with retail partners are inefficient and insecure.
  • There’s a lack of clarity around which assets are the most up-to-date representations of your brand and its products.
  • The systems necessary to make changes to the website and distribute marketing materials aren’t integrated.
  • Your users have to go back and forth between your asset library and product information management (PIM) system to find the necessary information for the website or social media posts.

Connecting DAM and E-Commerce

If any of these challenges resonate with you, there's a way forward. Digital asset management (DAM) is defined by Stacks as “all of the tools, standards, and processes involved in the effective utilization of digital and creative assets.” Each organization deploys these tools, standards, and processes in a unique way to create a DAM program specific to them. Building a DAM program isn’t always easy or straightforward but is well worth the effort. Below, we outline some of the ways it can serve your e-commerce goals and facilitate growth across your business.

1. A DAM System Serves as a Single Source of Truth

The first, and arguably the most important, thing DAM does is to gather all your relevant assets into one place. This comprehensive library is known as your DAM system. A DAM system can be either an on-premise server, a cloud-based file storage service (Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box), or a DAM platform. Stacks recommends implementing a DAM platform since they're specifically designed for this use (unlike file storage services) and come in all shapes, sizes, and price points.

Having all your assets in one place serves a few key functions. First, it allows you to understand what you have. When assets are spread out, it's impossible to know what kinds of assets are at your disposal, what needs to be created, and what can be re-used. Finding out what’s available saves your team time and money. Second, it allows all end-users to self-serve from one source of truth rather than placing the burden of finding and distributing assets on one person or team.

2. Metadata Makes the “Perfect” Asset Easy to Find

Gathering assets together, however, isn't the primary goal of DAM. It’s a means to an end, that end being leveraging the inherent value of an organization’s assets in the marketplace effectively. To do this, the library needs to be easy to navigate, search within, and filter down so users can quickly find what they need, to a high degree of specificity. If your brand has a large catalog of products that rotate in and out of stock, this is crucial since your website needs constant updating and you’re likely to run campaigns with new products and promotions regularly.

To ensure your library fully meets your needs, you’ll need to utilize one of the most important DAM tools: metadata. Metadata is simply data about data. For a product image, it can include the file’s name, the creator’s name, the creation date, a description of the image, the product name and number, whether the image is a studio, lifestyle, or silo shot, and the collection the product belongs to. By attaching this information to assets as they come into the DAM system in an organized fashion, your library instantly becomes searchable with a few keywords in a search bar. Learn more about metadata management here.

3. Sharing Assets Becomes Secure and Seamless

For any online retailer or brand that leverages e-commerce, assets typically need to be handled by many sets of people inside and outside the organization. Whether it’s the web, digital marketing, social media teams, or retail partners, assets typically flow from the single source of truth out to many different places. For example, if your organization just finished a photoshoot for its new fall line, the web and digital marketing teams need both those new assets and those from the summer line to feature in sales promotions. Gathering all your assets together and applying organized file names and other metadata to them makes it easy to find, pull, and share them in the correct format or version. This makes getting them to the marketplace at the ideal time for consumers to interact with them far easier.

Sharing assets is also where the benefits or challenges of your chosen DAM system present themselves. Many DAM platforms, for example, have robust feature sets around asset sharing. They support capabilities like dynamic asset transformation or asset templates, meaning that when assets are distributed, the receiver can download them in a number of formats, sizes, and layouts. Many platforms also have clean and easy-to-navigate front-end user portals that are shareable and secure so only specific assets are accessible to those outside the organization.

4. Integrations Bring all Information Together

Taking the task of asset sharing one step further, organizations usually leverage many pieces of technology to deploy assets to the marketplace. This “tech stack” typically features a Content Management System (CMS), Marketing Resource Management (MRM) system, PIM system, Content Delivery Network (CDN) system, and/or an e-commerce platform. That’s a lot of systems (and letters) to juggle.

To cut down on the time spent jumping back and forth between systems and duplicating work on each of them, they must be able to “talk” to each other. This function is typically available to organizations using a DAM platform designed to integrate with the systems listed above and far more. Implementing a DAM platform with this capability will allow your team to connect the DAM system to your other systems that utilize the same content. This means that any change in your single source of truth is made across all the content on all your systems. This is especially helpful in the e-commerce setting, as product information connected with images and videos is regularly updated.

5. Deploying Content Across Channels Is Fast

Looking forward, your organization now has all its digital assets organized and searchable in a single place. That system allows end-users to self-serve by using metadata to find the assets they need or share them quickly and securely with others. If the system is a DAM platform, it's been integrated with many of your other systems to create what's known as a “Headless DAM.” In this type of DAM, users don’t need to log in to find and manage content since all their systems use the same assets, managed on the back end by the DAM program.

Now, when you want to promote a new product, new colorways of a popular product, or a price reduction in an entire collection, every team associated with that effort can quickly and easily deploy the same up-to-date content across all their channels.


To discuss all these steps in detail would take up pages and pages of space. Each requires time, effort, and planning to be done well, and doing each well is critical to the overall success of your DAM program and all the efforts that flow from it, such as e-commerce. If you need help finding a DAM platform, developing organized metadata, creating workflows for file-sharing, planning your integrations and tech strategy, or managing your program as a whole going forward, contact Stacks! Our team of DAM experts is happy to help.

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