Since the earliest days of the industrial revolution, companies of all kinds have looked to technology for improving efficiency in the workplace. In the early 1800s, for example, the development of the power loom increased a textile worker’s output by a factor of about 40. The development of the cotton gin increased the productivity of removing seed from cotton by a factor of 50. Mechanized cotton spinning made it possible for one worker to do the job of 1,000.
Two centuries later, digital technology is transforming how we all work in ways that are just as profound—and while it’s not likely that any of the following five tactics will increase your productivity in ways that allows you to do the job of 1,000, it’s very likely that your company (and certainly your competitors) are taking very close looks at them … if, in fact, they’re not already being used.
1. Embrace Technology for Sample Management
What are the pain points? Sample management can be extremely labor-intensive. In many companies, it’s a manual process that requires someone to check products one at a time by hand against a paper manifest or, at best, an Excel spreadsheet. Not only is the process time-intensive, it also carries a high potential for human error. Beyond individual sample tracking, though, it’s also extremely labor-intensive to gather aggregate data for strategic planning. All in all, a costly and inefficient process.
How technology helps: A digital sample management solution delivers reduced labor costs as the result of far greater efficiency in the overall sample management process. Errors are minimized, which in turn means a reduction in lost samples (which means additional cost savings). Beyond these very tangible benefits, companies using digital sample management enjoy faster and more accurate access to data and an overall increase in organizational transparency. All in all, a big win.
2. Embrace technology for social media management
What are the pain points? Social media gets more complicated by the day as consumers embrace new platforms for sharing fashion news, photos and recommendations. Brands need to do more than understand how their customers and potential customers are interacting in their online networks—they need to put into place systems for understanding how their brands are being discussed, reaching out to those customers, and being nimble and responsive to interactions in real time.
How technology helps: Setting up a social media profile and broadcasting general information isn’t enough anymore. Social media sentiment analysis tools can help a brand identify useful nuggets of information amidst the veritable flood of available data. Social media dashboards that empower a digital communications manager to monitor and respond to posts and conversations on multiple platforms can maximize worker efficiency while minimizing response time to online questions and conversations.
3. Embrace technology for customer relationship management
What are the pain points? Customer relationship management is tough enough, but fashion brands have multiples types of customers: There are the consumers who buy the brand’s products, but there are also journalists, bloggers, and other members of the press with whom the brand wants to be able to communicate. On the one hand, there’s a B2C relationship strategy; on the other hand, there’s a B2B strategy. Managing all the communications use cases and relationship flows can be very complex.
How technology helps: Customer relationship management is not email marketing (too many think it is). Think about the word “relationship”—that suggests a two-way type of communication, as opposed to broadcasting sales messages via email, which is a one-way type of communication. A proper CRM system—working in conjunction with Fashion GPS Radar, for example, which is a global community of fashion industry tastemakers—can empower a brand to engage in meaningful brand conversations.
4. Embrace technology for obtaining competitive intelligence
What are the pain points? There is a ridiculous amount of data being generated by brands, by customers, by potential customers, by media, by consumers of media—on the brand’s web pages, on social media platforms, on media websites, and throughout the digital universe. It seems like an impossible task for a brand to be able to sift through it all and find the kind of actionable intelligence that can help provide a competitive advantage.
How technology helps: Imagine leveraging crowdsourcing techniques to develop predictive analytics and know a hot trend before it heats up. Imagine being able to examine the immeasurable amounts of content in social media and develop a unique understanding of the dynamics of the marketplace. These are just two of many, many ways in which technology allows brands to embrace and leverage big data as a strategic advantage. If big data isn’t part of your overall business strategy, it needs to be.
5. Embrace technology for maximum worker productivity
What are the pain points? Think about an editor calling your company to request an image, or a series of images. Someone needs to research the images, make sure they’re in the proper format, email them to the editor, then follow up to make sure they arrived (some email programs can’t handle large files sizes) and that they’re the correct image files after all. Someone can spend their entire work day managing the image-request process for all the editors, writers and bloggers a brand deals with.
How technology helps: Digital solutions empower a fashion brand to create its own online showroom and make digital assets available on demand. Instead of one-to-many asset management (one person at your company managing many requests), you benefit from enabling editors to get images themselves. Time is saved. Editors get what they need. What used to be a very complex process is now automated and simpler. Everyone wins—including (and especially) your bottom line.