Orvis takes customers on an omnichannel adventure.
Outdoor retailer transforms its business from the inside out, starting with its content creation and marketing workflows.
Gain control and centralize content and marketing workflows
Speed up creative workflows to meet fast-rising demand
Gain visibility across content creation and marketing processes
Consolidated multiple content workstreams onto a single system of record
Cut 1,000 hours per year from the catalog creation workflow
75% reduction in time to produce project plans
Increased content output to reach customers on new channels
An iconic outdoor retailer leads nature lovers into the future
Orvis has been one of America’s most beloved outdoor brands for 165 years. From its early days of selling fishing tackle, the Vermont-based retailer has since inspired countless nature lovers to follow their passion — be it fly fishing, wing shooting, or adventure travel. And to this day it has remained a timeless mainstay, continually designing innovative new products while adapting the way its business works to best serve customers.
In keeping with its status as an enduring brand, Orvis has transformed its business model in recent years. The company that built its name on an iconic mail-order catalog and destination brick-and-mortar storefronts is now outfitting itself for what’s next: modernizing the way it operates, the way it tells its brand story, and the technology it uses to power its customer experiences. To that end, Orvis has expanded its vision for a new generation of customers with the hire of its first ever Chief Brand Experience Officer in 2022.
Behind Orvis’s digital transformation sits its internal creative agency, Flybox Creative. The operations side is led by Sharon Poddick, Director of Creative Operations. Her team’s mandate? To carry one of America’s most cherished brands into the digital era and bring customers old and new along for the journey. And to make that happen, the team needed to take a fresh approach to the way they create content and speak to Orvis’s audience.
Since 2018, Flybox has been using Adobe Workfront, Adobe Experience Manager Assets, and Adobe Creative Cloud Enterprise to reimagine Orvis’s marketing workflows and content creation process, making them faster, more relevant, and more efficient as the business adopts a modern omnichannel approach to customer engagement.
“Evolution is baked into our blood at Orvis. Just when we think we’ve tried everything, we have a brainwave or adopt a new technology that opens new possibilities and kicks off a new phase of exploration,” says Poddick.
“We needed better control and visibility into our workflows across the Creative team – both for the good of the business and our employees’ sanity. And we needed to get better at managing people’s time so they could focus on work that matters instead of getting stuck in a spiral of inefficiency.”
Director of Creative Operations, Orvis
Taking control of marketing workflows
Orvis’s expansion from catalog-based communications to omnichannel marketing raised a new challenge: how to manage an extraordinary new pace of digital content creation while maintaining the integrity of the brand. Creative teams were producing significantly more content so the business could deliver personalized customer experiences across devices, geographies, and platforms, and they were doing so faster than ever.
This dramatic rise in demand on Orvis’s content supply chain required more than manpower, it required a new approach to asset creation and marketing strategy. The analog nature of developing mail-order catalogs had translated into some cumbersome manual workflows and processes. A lack of visibility into assignments made it difficult for teams to collaborate, or even be aware of each other’s workloads. What’s more, project management and content approvals were handled via email, making it virtually impossible to keep up with demand or turn campaigns around quickly.
Poddick wanted to avoid a mass burnout for her team. Between inefficient manual processes and siloed workflows, Flybox needed to be better equipped to support Orvis in its digital ambitions and ramp up their output in line with customer expectations.
“We needed better control and visibility into our workflows across the Creative team – both for the good of the business and our employees’ sanity. And we needed to get better at managing people’s time so they could focus on work that matters instead of getting stuck in a spiral of inefficiency,” says Poddick.
Beyond digital – a natural connection
An important distinction for Orvis is that, unlike other brands that are purely focused on digital marketing, it needs to balance its digital efforts with a commitment to its ongoing legacy as one of America’s most-loved outdoor brands, one that serves a variety of engagement preferences.
Many of Orvis’s customers who grew up with its catalog still value the look and feel of a physical buying journey. Others are happy to engage and buy products directly online, and most fall somewhere in between.
“Our customers love the outdoors. They love tangible experiences and as part of that many of them want a physical connection to our brand,” says Poddick. “That’s why we’re focused on omnichannel experiences.”
This commitment to serving customers on their preferred channel runs deep at Orvis, but it also adds complexity to its content creation processes. In addition to the classic photography Orvis creates for its catalog and installations for its physical properties, it must also create a tremendous volume of digital assets for its online and mobile campaigns.
With so many different types of content being created at speed across multiple teams, Orvis’s marketers also needed a simple way to schedule and manage content distribution across channels. It was time to replace spreadsheets and static calendars with a more centralized way to manage its storytelling on social platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
“Implementing a better way to manage content creation and deliver campaigns across channels became an imperative,” says Poddick. “Above all, we needed a centralized way to oversee and refine our marketing workflows, which is where Adobe came in.”
“Having all our planned hours logged in Workfront allowed us to play Tetris between projects and shift hours at a moment’s notice, so that resources are always focused on our more pressing needs.”
Project Manager, Orvis
Hours of wiggle room
Today, virtually every marketing project at Orvis runs through Workfront. From the submission of campaign briefs, to creative ideation, to brainstorms between teams, to the content creation process itself, every element of Orvis’ marketing workflow is visible and manageable via the platform.
Thanks to integrations with Creative Cloud, Orvis’s creative teams can build and edit assets with InDesign, Photoshop, or Illustrator without leaving their creative tools. Their progress is tracked and saved in Workfront and they can collaborate, trigger review cycles, and track time without having to application-shift. Meanwhile, integrations with Experience Manager Assets ensure that every content asset is tagged, stored, and accessible for approvals or future use.
“Workfront has given us complete visibility into the status and workloads surrounding our creative assets, which is central to delivering consistent and personalized experiences across channels,” says Poddick.
For Project Manager Renee Noel-Cutler, it was Workfront’s capacity planning and resource allocation capabilities that made all the difference. The ability to see upcoming workloads, resourcing, and timelines in one place and in real time allowed her to stay on top of campaign needs and scale creative teams accordingly. Not only did this help the Creative Operations team keep up with demand, it also mitigated the impact of disruptions caused by shifting project plans.
“It can take six months to produce a catalog, so if you’re three months in and something changes, the delay can be hugely disruptive,” says Cutler. “Having all our planned hours logged in Workfront allowed us to play Tetris between projects and shift hours at a moment’s notice, so that resources are always focused on our more pressing needs.”
Since going live, Cutler’s team has found more than a week and a half of “wiggle room” in the catalog creation process, saving them upwards of 40 hours per project. “We’ve cut roughly 1000 hours from our catalog development workflow, and we’ve only gotten more efficient since we started,” says Cutler.
Cutler and her fellow project managers also use project templates to create process maps at record speed. Where it would previously take at least a full day to develop a project plan, the automation has cut that time to just two hours. Meanwhile, changes to plans can be made in as little as 15 minutes.
“We’ve cut the project scheduling process down by about 75%. That saves me a ton of time as a project manager,” says Cutler. “The automation, the predecessors, it’s awesome. Workfront builds your confidence that you’re not missing a step and everything is moving sequentially.”
“We need to find the best talent so we can meet the business’s content needs… That’s been one of the main benefits of integrating Experience Manager with Workfront. It’s helped us to work more remotely, attract new talent, and improve the quality of our creative across the board.”
Director of Creative Operations, Orvis
Building a content creation powerhouse
Orvis began its transformation with Adobe in 2018, but its first real test came in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone at the business to work from home and put new pressures on the content creation process. Flybox proved it was more than up to the task, quickly pivoting the creation of its enormous volume of content to support the company’s digital campaigns.
With Workfront already embedded into its DNA and teams using Experience Manager for digital asset management and storage, the team tackled both the logistical and content creation challenges of COVID-19 restrictions without missing a beat. In fact, the ease with which employees were able to work from home during the pandemic led Orvis to expand its creative talent pool beyond Vermont and build a world-class network of remote content creators.
“Our team acts like an internal agency within Orvis, and like an agency we need to find the best talent so we can meet the business’s content needs,” says Poddick. “That’s been one of the main benefits of integrating Experience Manager Assets with Workfront. It’s helped us to work more remotely, attract new talent, and improve the quality of our creative across the board.”
“The automation in our workflows has been truly amazing. We’ve cut the project scheduling process down by about two-thirds. That saves a ton of time for project managers.”
Project Manager, Orvis
An evolution fueled by insight
Reflecting on Orvis’ transformation so far, Poddick is struck by the level of insight her team has uncovered since consolidating workstreams onto a single system of record and tracking employees’ hours. That insight has led to data-driven decisions about how and where to invest employee time to deliver the greatest returns for the business.
“We didn’t have a firm grip on how long it took to complete a catalog or digital marketing campaign because we couldn’t track people’s hours,” she reflects. “With the insight we have today we can decide whether the payoff is worth the investment, which is crucial when juggling dozens of projects, limited resources, and variable budgets.”
Poddick’s team continues to innovate daily, adapting its way of working to the business’ needs and to changing customer expectations. For instance, with Orvis now taking a more seasonal approach to marketing, the creative operations team is looking to adapt its content creation strategy accordingly, working alongside internal stakeholders to ensure they can easily commission, access, and use the assets they need.
“We’ve broken down siloes between our creative and marketing teams. Now it’s time to take things further and break down siloes within individual projects,” says Poddick. “That’s the level of granularity we can get into with Workfront, and it never ceases to amaze how those little efficiencies add up to major wins for our business. We’re excited to be contributing to the evolution of the Orvis brand by creating meaningful, personalized experiences.”