FASHION CLOUD Productivity: The Tools We Use
As a startup and technology based company, it is very important to us to optimize and streamline our day to day processes. The amazing thing is, these days there are a number of software, tools, and applications that make this not only possible but also very affordable for ‚lean‘ startups. We’d like to share with you the tools we use on a daily basis at FASHION CLOUD, how and why we use them, our thoughts on their effectiveness.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; in fact, we have many more tools that we use from time to time, as well as plenty of other tools in our tech stack. In this article, we have selected the main tools that we believe are vital to FASHION CLOUD, and also would benefit any company.
Let’s start with Slack, because this is probably the most important tool in our business. The key to success in any company is open communication and more importantly, efficient communication. Slack is a fantastic open communication tool, one of the industry favourites for team messaging. Its hardly surprising given that they now serve over 2 million users daily!
You can organize all your messaging, file sharing and collaboration in the one website and mobile application. And most importantly, you can organize all team communication into different channels. For example, given at FASHION CLOUD we don’t like to departmentalize our staff and appreciate help and feedback from everyone in every decision, Slack is the perfect tool for having this open communication. Although one person may not be directly involved in the marketing channel, they can still listen to the conversation and contribute.
In fact, Slack has been so useful to us that it has almost taken over our email usage. As many of our staff travel and have to work remotely, and the amount of business that is done on a smartphone in 2016, it is necessary to have an easy-to-use, comprehensive communication system.
Trello is another app that has been extremely useful in day-to-day activities. Every one of the FASHION CLOUD staff members uses Trello, for personal organisation and task prioritization, and even more importantly for collaboration.
Trello organises your daily tasks into boards, and you can invite other team members to these boards. For us it has been a very simple way of organising and deploying new business developments, delegating tasks to smaller teams and maintaining high levels of productivity. On an individual level, it is great for making you feel in control of your tasks and the cathartic experience of physically ‘ticking’ tasks off a to-do list that is an amazing motivational feeling. Also, at times you job can seem very daunting with huge goals ahead of you, so by breaking it into smaller parts on a Trello board, psychologically it is easier to tackle these large tasks.
Pipedrive is our CRM, or customer relationship manager, and although there are many CRM options out there, it is one that we have found perfectly suited to our needs. With Pipedrive, we are able to add all of our clients and contacts, organise them into our ‚pipelines‘ so that our communication with our clients is always up to date and follows a logical flow. If you are dealing with many clients it can be easy to forget who you talked to about what, and contacting clients too little or too much are both bad practices, so by using a CRM like Pipedrive we can stay on top of our client-side communication.
Organising your communication with clients and prospectives is a key to success, you don’t want to ever miss an opportunity but you certainly don’t want to overdo it. If you have many people client-side, then Pipedrive lets you schedule all your future call, emails meetings in a beautiful interface and separating these tasks between users. Pipeline also integrates seamlessly with our email providers, so whenever new people are added to an email list, or updates in Pipedrive are made, the changes are automatically transferred to the other platform.
Active Campaign is the newest addition to the productivity list and a very important one. As a startup, the growth curve tends to be somewhat exponential, and for many months at the beginning you are able to handle most things manually. However, there comes a point where automation is necessary, in order to handle the larger client base.
Active Campaign has an easy-to-use interface and allows for easy segmentation of our email lists, and our favourite feature so far, the event-based automation and drip campaigns. This means that depending on the client’s interaction with our emails, we can tailor specific answers, follow up emails, and funnels to be sent automatically.
Mailchimp was our staple email client from day one. Mailchimp is an industry standard these days, and it is easy to see why; with a simple interface, easy drag and drop email builder, list and campaign building, and fantastic reporting. Mailchimp is also free for their basic plan, and then they have paid plans depending on; number of emails per month sent, the size email list, or if you need additional features such as automation.
We still continue to use MailChimp as our weekly newsletter mail client, as it is just so easy so set up a template, make additions each week, and then send to the appropriate lists. The other benefits about Mailchimp are its integrations with other apps. We have synced both Pipedrive and our website to Mailchimp, and in fact Mailchimp offers over 100 different integrations with other apps, so you’ll almost never have an issue with your current setup.
Google apps is definitely another necessity for SMEs and startups, due to its lightweight but robust structure, and its usability on a wide range of devices. We are also excited about the new release update G Suite, which is targeted more for businesses and has tailored its mission towards that of real-time collaboration. Not only have they added intelligent assistants to help you create better docs, but they have introduced Quick Access which uses machine learning to predict which files you will likely need next and have the readily available to you on your drive.
At FASHION CLOUD we use it for all our document creation, distribution, and storage. It allows for collaboration on files in an organized and efficient manner. Once again, as the company grows its important to have structure in place, so having a clear and organised file system allows every team member to know what is happening in the whole company and the ability to create and colloborate as teams.
Intercom is a multi-purpose software for live chat, marketing automation, and customer support. Live chat is becoming a staple for almost all modern businesses as a way of talking to new visitors or offering help to current clients. We currently use intercom for customer support and our clients are able to send us messages directly through the platform with ease, increasing customer satisfaction rates and decreasing the rate of churn. At FASHION CLOUD, we like to make sure our clients’ needs are always attended to, so it is important to us to have this feature. Rather than clients sending emails, having a chat feature adds the ‚personal‘ customer experience and has definitely helped our customers feel more comfortable contacting us, and we are also able to react more quickly to any customer concerns.
Segment is truly an amazing tool to track all of the user behaviour data on your website, and then send that data to your other apps. This is actually where a lot of the processes in our company begin, and is very important to the automation and functionality of FASHION CLOUD. All interactions with our app and website are automatically tracked so that we can keep an eye on what features are being used a lot, which ones aren’t working as well, if there are any errors, and for general tracking and analytics. Segment can then be set up to send this data to Active Campaign, Slack, Pipedrive and many other apps.
So there we have it, the most important apps and software in the daily life at FASHION CLOUD. As you can see, the most important requirements for us are open communication, collaboration, automation, and customer happiness, so it is just as important that our tools facilitate this. Another important point that we should note, don’t over complicate things. These days there are infinite different tools that achieve similar results and you could easily have hundreds of different apps; but unfortunately this does the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. The goal is to simplify your difficult tasks and automate your basic ones, allowing you more free time for the most important things in you business. We have chosen these apps because they help us achieve specific goals, are able to grow as we grow, and keep us focussed on the more important tasks and goals of the company without getting overwhelmed by the smaller processes.