A coffee, a cake – and ES
If you’re in the UK and fancy a cup of Italian coffee in a relaxing home-from-home ambiance, chances are you’ll find it at one of Caffè Nero’s 600-plus coffee shops. Founded in 1997 by Gerry Ford to offer authentically Italian espresso-based coffee and fresh food, Caffè Nero has won a string of awards and has in recent years expanded outside the UK, opening stores in Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Cyprus, Poland and the US.
As well as getting through a lot of coffee beans, Caffè Nero gets through a lot of print, with a wide range of point-of-sale items, branding and decorative imagery contributing to the welcoming atmosphere, while a burgeoning online presence through both its own website and on social media means that there is a constant demand for digital imagery too.
We liked DALIM ES for its greater control of versions and updatinKeeping control of the image collection and distributing it to the stores was becoming an increasing burden for the company’s Covent Garden, London, headquarters. Stores would request images after seeing low-resolution previews on a shared ‘image bank’ drive. These would be copied and shipped on physical media because of the file sizes involved. As well as keeping a dedicated staff member busy this process made it difficult to track which store had which images and whether they were keeping up to date with new branding or promotions. Because of the delay involved in receiving images, it could also happen that stores would continue to use outdated ones simply because it was quicker than requesting new versions.
“Although we were handling the several requests a month we were getting, we weren’t sure about how the assets were being used,” says project manager Toni Popova. “We needed a way to keep versions current with a centralised point of reference for everyone.”
To address these issues and to put a centralised and trackable image resource into effect, IT manager Marcel Klein approached DALIM SOFTWARE, via systems house IO Integration. Discussions began in late 2015 and it quickly became clear that the DAM (digital asset management) part of ES would be able to meet Caffè Nero’s immediate needs, while providing plenty of additional capabilities for future development.
“We liked DALIM ES for its greater control of versions and updating,” explains Popova. “Now there will only be one version of an image available, always the latest, and we’ll be able to ensure that guidelines for copyright and particular image crops and media combinations are followed.” This control also extends to grouping of images that are used to present Italian themed ‘stories’ in the various retail outlets.
System installation was completed at the end of March 2016 and tagging of the 2000 or so image assets began in April. This followed the categories already established on the existing shared drive but is expected to develop over time to better support the ways in which individual stores search for and use the images.
The initial system, which is based around ES 4, provides web-based access to preview images from any of the company’s locations but does not support download of print-resolution files. In the initial phase, the plan is to co-ordinate and respond to requests from stores manually, though the requests themselves are generated in ES by a simple click by browsing store staff. Depending what is needed and how urgently, images may still be shipped on physical media or sent via online services such as DropBox or WeTransfer.
Different levels of access are controlled via ES. Local staff in the Covent Garden office can download high resolution files directly, but others from remote locations in the UK or abroad can get low-res previews but currently have to request the high resolution versions. Providing automated downloads is a possibility for the future but to begin with, Popova and her team want to gather information on which images are used where and how frequently, in order to guide design development.
As well as handling static images destined for print or online use in JPEG, TIFF or layered PSD (Photoshop) format, video formats are also supported by ES, for use online, and files of this type will be added by Caffè Nero to the DAM in due course. It is envisaged that the ES system will also be extended to support other functions within the company over time.
An update to the recently-announced ES 5 is expected to be rolled out in June. “This will bring a cleaner interface and a search bar as well as image arrangement by categories such as lifestyle of coffee-specific,” says Popova. Until the ES 5 update is implemented, the system will mostly be used internally within the Covent Garden site and then proactively rolled out to other stores once the new interface is in place. Administration of the system is initially being handled by IO Integration.
“The first priority is to centralise and give everyone access,” says Popova, “but I’m sure we will find many more benefits from ES.”