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Case Study: A Large E-tailer Implements Samples

2 minute read

Nicole Alter

Have you ever wondered how mass retailers keep track of samples? We talked to Jenny Akerman-Smith, Managing Director of our UK office, about how one of the world’s largest e-tailers was able to transform the way they monitor, manage and move samples within their individual teams and departments, and across their global business.

jenny-launchmetrics Have you ever wondered how mass retailers keep track of samples? We talked to Jenny Akerman-Smith, Managing Director of our UK office, about how one of the world’s largest e-tailers was able to transform the way they monitor, manage and move samples within their individual teams and departments, and across their global business.

Launchmetrics: How were samples managed in the past?
JS: The interesting thing about this company was that they had a mix of their own brand of products as well as those from other brands. So they had product moving from suppliers and warehouses all over the world into their head office and really struggled to get these products through the chain quickly enough to shoot images and get them online and purchasable. It was clear that they needed a solution to help them optimize the process for sample movement and tracking within their business.

Launchmetrics: What was their biggest pain point before working with Launchmetrics?
JS: They couldn’t move samples through the chain quick enough, there was a lack of visibility internally, and they were misplacing samples frequently.

Launchmetrics: What issues did they face using their old system?
JS: For a company that was processing thousands of samples each week, their process was extremely manual and far from ideal. The production teams responsible for shooting the products for the website in their in-house studios were the first to identify the issue and look to us for a solution. They would often get blamed for slow-moving shoots or missing products by the teams before and after them in the chain. Samples would go missing all the time — the product would be on a rack somewhere, get taken by another department, and it would never get shot.



Launchmetrics: How did Samples change this?
JS: We began working with the studio management teams first off, they barcoded every product that entered their department and scanned the product details into the system allocating products to studios and tracking when and where product arrived and left their teams. By putting a process in place, they thereby indicated each individual’s responsibilities with that product, could significantly reduce sample loss; as well as ultimately maximizing efficiency with a smaller sample set.

Launchmetrics: How did they adapt to the new system?
JS: After a few months, other departments had heard about Samples and how it was helping the Production teams. Shortly after, the company’s entire buying floor was brought on to the platform, 60+ buyers began using the system to manage their samples immediately as they entered the business. They each had slightly different processes based on their product specialties or departments such as knitwear, swim, shoes, etc. so it was important that the solution was simple enough to enhance their day-to-day tasks rather than complicating them. There was no real streamlined process for all of the buyers across the company. Launchmetrics Samples provided an immediate injection of consistency across the board, and enabled different product departments to speak the same language, making things easier for those further down the chain to manage the extremely high volumes of product and data flowing through the company on a daily basis.

Today, in addition to tracking samples within production and buying internally, they also have their PR and marketing teams globally borrowing samples and tracking their movements externally to press as well. Ultimately, Samples helped to introduce standardization across the business — now, this company could manage the movement of samples across each and every department.

Launchmetrics: Did the implementation go as planned?
JS: Yes, but we also discovered some hidden benefits! As with most large retailers, they had a product ‘sealing’ process to monitor different iterations of the samples as they progressed through the stages of design, development, and production. Samples would be marked as an initial prototype, second development sample, and then a final stage sample, the latter being entirely identical to the final product sold to the consumer.

A very simple, yet effective concept but something that traditionally was managed very manually. Previously for each iteration, a little plastic tag denoting the sample stage was attached to the product. With our system, the already-present barcode label could tell them what phase a sample was in. This maximized the use of all three sets of samples, so that departments could access earlier iterations without waiting for the final sealed sample unless absolutely necessary. This method was much more efficient and allowed products to be shot sooner for e-commerce, marketing, and PR to use.

Each department finally had complete visibility as to where each sample was, where it was going next and when it would be available again.

Launchmetrics: Did they see benefits in tracking samples externally too?
JS: Yes! Their PR team eventually rolled out Launchmetrics Samples, Events, and Galleries, our three core platforms. They understood how it could drive the launch of their products to market. Today, this company is a pioneer in the way that they use the full product suite holistically to position and promote their brand, they publish all of their lookbook and product images on Fashion GPS Radar because they see the value of capturing this international audience.
As a further extension of this, the company decided that the Launchmetrics platform should be rolled out to all of their external PR agencies worldwide. Launchmetrics has now become their PR agency hub — at the end of each month, their PR teams can access reports showing them key data such as which of their images are downloaded, which publications are downloading images, and which products are the most popular on Fashion GPS Radar.

Nicole Alter

A small person with a big appetite, Nicole is a total geek for innovation in the tech and fashion space. Nicole's other interests include social media trends, growth hacking, China, and hip-hop zumba classes.

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