In a move designed to increase speed to market, Marks & Spencer has teamed up with First Insight Inc. to add 3-D computer-aided design capabilities to the retailer’s product development process. The 3-D CAD is powered by Optitex, which offers a variety of solutions in the fashion apparel, retail, automotive and textile industries.
Marks & Spencer and First Insight are longtime collaborators, and the addition of the 3-D technology is designed to further enhance bettering understanding of the customer, increasing speed to market and supporting digital workflows as well as creating more sustainable sampling processes that also reduce waste, the companies said in a statement.
Greg Petro, chief executive officer of First Insight, said the ongoing pandemic has “necessitated and expedited a shift from high-touch to low-touch across every aspect of retail, including the product development process.”
“Our partnership with Optitex allows retailers like Marks & Spencer to digitize their product development cycle, which eliminates the need to create and traffic physical samples, host showroom visits and conduct in-store product testing — all of which are crucial capabilities not only during the coronavirus outbreak but also for long-term sustainability and efficiency,” the ceo added.
Elaine Wheeler, head of digital product development at Marks & Spencer, praised the collaboration with First Insight and Optitex, and said this is especially important as “we transition our strategy to a more digital product development-focused model.”
“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do,” Wheeler noted. “We’ve put customer-focused digital innovation at the heart of our business, and this partnership will allow us to bring winning products that our customers truly want to market more quickly and sustainably.”
Amit Ben-Sheffer, vice president of products at Optitex, said in the product development process, “3-D CAD images provide a more realistic visualization of how a finished product will look, which means the feedback consumers provide through First Insight’s platform is more reliable and useful. It also reduces the need for physical samples and enables virtual line planning and virtual fit testing.”
The companies noted that the retailer had tested the 3-D CAD technology, which resulted in increased test completion rates “and boosted respondents’ comments by 50 percent, providing richer product feedback to the company’s product development and merchant teams.” Using the 3-D CAD technology not only reduces overall product development costs, but can cut lead times from 24 weeks to just three weeks.
Marks & Spencer has been using First Insight’s consumer-driven predictive analytics software solution for some time and across categories — from apparel and footwear to home goods and food. “The platform has enabled the British multinational retailer to test tens of thousands of products across more than 50 departments and use that information to shape collections and assortments that meet customers’ desires and to offer those items at the right prices,” the companies said in their statement.