Despite all the technological advances in the retail industry over the past few decades, the fundamental go-to-market (GTM) model is still broken. We design products, manufacture them, and then hope that we correctly picked the styles people want at the correct quantities. There’s a better way. Using technologies such as PLM and 3D, companies can flip the retail go-to-market on its head and reap the rewards of having a more sustainable and profitable GTM.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the shortfalls of the current retail GTM. First of all, it’s incredibly wasteful and it’s not hard to see why. Beyond poor manufacturing practices, we simply produce too much stuff. Fashion is the world’s second largest polluter, producing over 13 million tons of textile waste annually. In addition to that, brands have only recently started to stop the practice of burning excess inventory, a result of incorrectly predicting customer demand.
In addition to being wasteful, the current GTM strategy is slow. Yes, there is concept and customer testing that can provide insight into what consumers think of products before they are produced, but it’s slow, expensive, and doesn’t tell the full picture. Feedback isn’t happening until the first samples have already been produced, a very slow and expensive process. The best feedback is from actual customers but by the time customers see a product online or on a shelf, it’s already been manufactured. There is little opportunity to quickly correct mistakes or missteps.
This limited feedback from customers makes it very difficult to predict sales of individual items leading to both financial inefficiencies and increased waste because it’s hard to know how much to make and how much you will sell. With the pace of business increasing every year, incorrect predictions for brands can have disastrous consequences.
So, given all of these issues, what can be done? Enter, 3D technology. More and more brands have been embracing the use of 3D tools like Browzwear or Modo to create digital twins of their products that can be used for manufacturing and design decisions. Typically, people have looked at 3D to help replace samples, lower costs, and make design decisions more quickly allowing them to go to market faster. But, there’s another massive benefit to using 3D. 3D can be used to sell and gather feedback from customers before a single stitch is sewn.
3D technology has advanced tremendously in the last few years and now you can actually allow customers to interact with 3D versions of your products on eCommerce sites, digital ads, and social media platforms. Social media platforms like Snapchat are doing augmented reality try-on so customers can try-on 3D versions of garments and shoes.
Imagine being able to put your designs out to millions of consumers on social media or through digital ads and being able to see which perform well and which need to be reworked. You can even deploy 3D models through concept and consumer testing companies like Mesh01. This allows you to get detailed feedback without ever producing a sample. This technology has the potential to completely change the way retail GTM is done.
If this technology is so powerful, then why aren’t we seeing more brands take advantage of it? There are two reasons. The first is that it is new, and changing quickly so there hasn’t been a ton of time for the retail industry to react. The second is that, 3D by itself is not enough. You need to have the foundational tools and processes in place to execute at scale.
The first tool that should be in every brand and retailer’s arsenal is a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution, and ideally, one that includes best-in-class, bi-directional integrations to leading 3D solutions. On its own, retail PLM is a powerful collaborative engine that provides a single source of truth for your merchandising, design, development, sourcing and costing information, so that you can understand where your product is at each stage of its lifecycle.
When integrated with 3D, your PLM system provides an even more powerful, fully automated ‘end-to-end’ digital product creation workflow, enabling you to reduce development calendars and material costs by giving designers access to fabrics, color palettes and the full spectrum of product data stored in PLM - all from within their 3D environment. The results? Significant GTM reductions, lower costs, smarter business decisions and higher margins.
Now that you have a solid product creation strategy in place, the next step is to provide a bridge between the 3D models you are storing in PLM to sales and marketing channels. This is where brands and retailers often run into trouble.
3D content is much more complex than traditional 2D imagery or video. Different platforms consume different file types that require unique specifications. Traditionally, highly trained 3D artists have manually worked with 3D models to meet these specifications, but it can take days of work to do this for just a single colorway. This is where having a 3D Content Management System can help you automate and scale your 3D content distribution.
For instance, VNTANA’s patented optimization algorithms can automatically reduce 3D files by up to 99% while still maintaining high visual fidelity so you can quickly and easily deploy very light versions of 3D to eCommerce and social media.
What’s so promising about these new technologies is that they are relatively low cost, easy to implement solutions on top of the digital product creation work that many brands and retailers are already undertaking. The key is having the right partners who can help connect the dots and show what is possible. By embracing 3D from digital product creation to design decisions to customer testing to sales and marketing, the retail industry has the chance to forge a new model of selling. One that is fast, sustainable, customer-driven, and highly profitable.