Next was launched in the UK when it opened its first womanwear store on 12 February 1982. Within six months it had opened a further 70 stores nationwide. By 1984 had opened 52 menswear stores; and established itself as a destination for fashion clothing. In 1988 it launched a new mail order catalogue called NEXT Directory. This was a new concept for home shopping, a high-quality inspirational editorial-style and photography-led publication. Early editions also contained fabric samples, so customers could look and feel the fabric they were going to purchase. Next launched its e-commerce site in 1999, enabling customers to order items from the catalogue and has developed an international footprint outside the UK, and now trades in over 70 countries.
The early years were focused on print-quality. NEXT Directory was completely different to other mail order catalogues, and was more comparable, in terms of quality, to established fashion titles. Print remains a key media, and in 2017/18 they produced 11.4 million pages. Of course, the e-commerce site has been completely transformed, and is an essential retailing platform. One of the key challenges the business has always faced is producing and managing photography. The growth in the e-commerce platform has also significantly increased the volume of pictures required and demands a faster and more responsive approach to print, as Jason explains: ‘My team had to adapt and develop to keep pace with what the business needed. We had to produce increasing volumes of images, faster and more efficiently.’
Next had invested in an asset management system in the 00’s called Canto Cumulus. It had supported the print demands well in the early years, but by 2016 because of the growth in image volumes and the need to produce files for numerous media channels, it became clear Cumulus could not keep pace, as Jason explains: ‘We used Canto Cumulus, which had been in the business ten years or more. By this point the technology had become more and more unstable. Weekly restart of servers was commonplace. We had no-where to go DAM system itself was end of life.’
The technology had been out-paced by the growth in e-commerce and digital platforms and the changes to retailing. The constraints of the technology platform also caused a number of production problems. Duplicate files was a significant problem. No one could be certain the file they were using was the latest version. File conversion for the numerous digital platforms, as well as for print purposes, had to be handled manually. Files were reworked and reworked numerous times. The transfer and distribution of files using FTP, which was necessary as the creative and production process involved numerous stakeholders throughout the UK and internationally, was also manual and time-intensive.
In 2016, Next made the decision to replace Cumulus with a new solution, capable of meeting current and future creative operations, e-commerce and IT team’s requirements. Jason, and the team, were focussed on four things:
There were 4 key drivers in choosing WoodWing Assets:
Time to Market - because the faster Next could get images on line, the faster they could sell products.
Digital First - because the volume of content was increasing, and it needed to be easy to produce and easy to share.
Agility - because Next needed to be able to adapt and change quickly as business demands required. This required efficient was effective processes, and therefore needed a technology platform that would be developed and continue to evolve.
Scalability – being able to cope with growing volumes of content and provide automation that did not require significant investment in new people.
If you want to know more about how WoodWing Assets can help your business email us email@example.com
Evolved Media | News | ID:2617 | v2.2 | Last modified 2020-07-14T12:58:27