Before and After
To some, online merchandising may seem simple, but the process is actually very complex.
There are more than 60 decision points and more than 40 data points required before a product can be launched online, spread across multiple departments and a dozen or more individuals.
Multiply this by hundreds or thousands of products, and business teams are suffering.
See how their work experience improves with Sweft.
Before Sweft: Buyers introduce the new line of products each season and have to pass on a lot of information about each product. There is no simple and elegant way to exchange this information other than a bunch of lists and spreadsheets – which are outdated as soon as they are passed.
After Sweft: Buyers can share an up-to-the-minute list of the items for the season, so the whole team has access to that list and all the current information behind it – the data is live, not static. And the reports can include images, which makes communication much easier.
“Preparing for the Merch Meetings always took days – pasting images & info into reports, finding and gathering samples. We never seem to have time to really think about the assortment. With Sweft, the prep-work takes just a fraction of the time, and the meetings are much more effective.”
“Have samples & specs been ordered from the vendor? Where are the samples? Do my colleagues have up-to-date info about my products? Are the products for Summer online? We had no visibility to easily answer any of these type questions until Sweft.”
Before Sweft: Good buyers are innovative, understand their customer and able to find great product. But they spend too much of their time with repetitive work, entering data into different systems and spreadsheets, and chasing vendors for samples and specs. Any innovation gets lost in tedious tasks.
After Sweft: Sweft centralizes data to reduce redundant data entry, and automates repetitive tasks to free up their time. Buyers have more time to focus on improving the products and driving sales.
Before Sweft: The Planning Team is responsible for knowing how and why items in inventory are selling at any point in time. When items are received in the DC but aren’t yet online, Planners often lack visibility into why the items aren’t activated and end up “policing” their partner teams – Buying, Studio, Web Production, etc. – to find out where the process broke down, and how to quickly get the item fixed and online for selling.
After Sweft: Planners are able to use their dashboard and alerts to easily see in real time any items that are Received Not Activated and quickly drill into the details to identify where the delay to activation is occurring.
“We now have ‘one version of the truth’ for all of our products including full visibility to delivery and product activation delays. We can now be proactive instead of reactive to inventory challenges. Before Sweft we were always chasing info, instead of acting on it.”
“How many items will be turned over this week? Where are the sweaters from last week’s meeting? Before Sweft we had no idea where samples were or who had them. Everyone was frustrated. With Sweft we have real time visibility to exactly where our Samples are at all times.”
Before Sweft: Samples are essential to all teams involved in website product activation. Delays in the receipt of accurate Samples can result in delays in product activation leading to decreased Sales. Accurate tracking of Sample receipt as well as location at the Home Office post receipt is imperative, but often very challenging. Location status is often inconsistently communicated via word of mouth, email, post-it, text or not at all.
After Sweft: Automated Sample request and tracking functionality via Sweft generated Sample tags, barcodes and dashboard alerts all remove the uncertainty and frustration surrounding Sample management.
Before Sweft: Photo Studios are challenged to balance creativity with the cost of expensive talent – including photographers, models and stylists – as well as locations. Delays in sample receipt and shot direction can be frustrating and very costly both operationally and in lost Sales from activation delays.
After Sweft: The Photo Studio has real time visibility to Sample Turnover lists and Marketing Campaign dates including shot direction. Dashboard alerts highlight priorities and aid in balancing workflow management. Team members are able to focus more on creativity and optimizing talent usage. Items are activated on time.
“Managing photo shoots efficiently felt impossible. We would constantly struggle to meet our deadlines, and get blamed for delays outside of our control. Having Sweft has allowed us to confidently plan and execute photo shoots to deliver images on time.”
“Before Sweft we spent too much time chasing down images from the Studio with no visibility to workload prioritization. With Sweft we’re able to work on the images as soon as they’re shot and get notified of priorities as soon as they’re established.”
Before Sweft: Image naming is an essential part of a Retoucher’s job. One small mistake in a 20-30 character file name format is easy to make. The resulting “image not found” on the website creates a bad customer experience and internal groaning and finger pointing. Coordinating swatch retouching is always a headache.
After Sweft: Sweft makes the image naming process quick, accurate and easy by offering one-click or barcode file names of any length. The workload for swatch retouching is easily managed.
Before Sweft: Good copy is the foundation of digital content, and to create this, Copywriters need timely and accurate product information and access to samples. Frequently these items are received too late to allow Copywriters enough time to compose the best possible copy and drive the highest Sales.
After Sweft: Sweft includes functionality to assist with obtaining and organizing product information and samples from vendors. Once product information and/or samples are received into Sweft, the Copywriter is alerted and they have immediate access to the product information within Sweft, allowing them to focus their time on finding perfect words, not missing product information.
“We love that our Sweft dashboard shows us what products are prioritized for copy, and makes it easy to enter copy for the items. We can proactively plan and distribute the work within our team so we don’t delay product launches.”
“Everyone used to blame us when products wouldn’t launch on time, yet we had no idea what was coming down the line or when we would receive it. With Sweft, we have visibility into all the products and everyone has a sense of urgency for activation.”
Before Sweft: The Web Production Team needs to make sure all required information is complete before a product is activated. Lots of time is spent reviewing the information provided to identify what is missing and then tediously chasing down various partners in other teams to search through numerous spreadsheets before they can activate the items.
After Sweft: The Sweft Web Production dashboard quickly identifies items missing required activation information. Team members can easily click through to see what specific information is missing and who is responsible for providing it. More products are activated faster and there is better goodwill among all teams.
Before Sweft: Marketing campaigns drive product sales yet no one seems to know which items are being advertised, and the products are often not ready when the campaign is supposed to start. Delayed campaigns and promotions without product are the frequent result.
After Sweft: Sweft syncs the campaigns with their products, so that everyone knows the priorities; Marketing is alerted in advance if there will be any delayed product deliveries.
“Keeping track of creative assets to be used in email and social campaigns was always a hassle. With Sweft’s built-in “marketing event management” tools we don’t have to worry about missing something anymore.”
“With Sweft, I have confidence that my teams know their responsibilities and understand the priorities from day to day. And it’s easy for me to tell when they don’t.”
Before Sweft: The Executive Team usually finds out about problems impacting business performance well after they’ve happened. When sales numbers are missed or inventory turn slows, the Execs often learn late in the season and it’s difficult to discern between missed trends and internal process issues.
After Sweft: Sweft helps the Executives hold their teams accountable for their parts of the process and allows them to do this in real time. They can easily identify any roadblocks in the workflow and quickly ensure that these are addressed. With Sweft, it becomes easy to see how much inventory is in the warehouse but not shown online, and easier to figure out how to fix any problems.
Before Sweft: The IT group is constantly fielding requests from the Merchandising teams for new features, additional fields, different reports and other types of product data that are not available in existing systems. But once IT has rigorously scoped the requirements and delivers the requests, the requirements have often changed or the Merchants don’t look at their businesses the same way anymore, resulting in frustration, wasted time and expense.
After Sweft: Merchants have a flexible tool that allows them to create their own reports and/or add data elements to existing reports where they need them. IT can focus their resources on business-critical systems and processes knowing that the Merchants have a secure and efficient system to support them.
“My job is made easier, because I know Sweft is a secure, cloud based solution with minimal IT maintenance requirements, and the business users are getting their ever-changing needs met.”
“Sweft gives us access to product specs that we need for QA but haven’t consistently gotten before. It makes our work more productive, so we can receive the goods faster.”
The Quality Assurance (QA) of new products received in the warehouse is often challenging, as there is often little information beyond the packing list description available at the time of receipt. As a result, product sits idle while the QA Team chases the Buyers for more details. Or worse, the product is accepted “as is”, and the Customer essentially performs the product’s first real QA when they receive it.
After Sweft: Receiving and QA Teams have access to the images and product specs in Sweft, which they can use for a timely and accurate QA upon first receipt. The QA Team only needs to contact the Buyers for exceptions. The result is time savings, a reduction in returns from “customer QA” and improved Customer Satisfaction.
Before Sweft Sales and Customer Service Reps field a wide variety of product information questions from customers, and typically rely solely on information from the website to answer these inquiries. For questions that can’t be answered via the website they need to email the Buyers and wait for a response – which can take days.
After Sweft: Contact Center Teams can have access to the product information in Sweft, so they can quickly answer of questions from Customers. This access can be restricted to certain information, and the access can be ‘read-only’ to protect data integrity. The resulting improvement in customer service can result in increased Sales and decreased Returns.
“Sweft helps my support reps can handle more calls and do a better job of it, since they spend their time on the phone with the customer and not calling home office looking for essential details.”