The industry has become accustomed to doing its merchandise planning online, over the past year. But while the emergence of virtual showrooms has been a gamechanger for product discovery, there has still been a disconnect between seeing styles individually at wholesale and seeing them as a cohesive assortment.
A new launch by BrandLab360 addresses this problem.
The BrandLab360 virtual showroom offering will now allow buyers to explore a digital trade show or showroom floor, in the form of digital avatars. These avatars can not only view available product but also pick up desired items through the new “Assortment Builder” function, to be arranged on a rail or assortment board. This enables buyers to view a series of items, from multiple collections, in one place and recreate a sample store display.
“Feedback from buyers from all over the world was that they wanted to be able to mimic the real life experience of being able to merchandise a rack or a rail,” said Dan O’Connell, cofounder of BrandLab360. “Traditional stacking b-to-b platforms are unable to do that in any meaningful way and so the tool has been developed so that the buyer can visualize their selection as it will look on a rail or rack in their store.”
Designed in-house, the assortment builder capabilities are designed to minimize the gap between the physical and virtual buying experience. While product can still not be touched in the digital environment, by improving the range of product interaction, buyers can gain a comprehensive understanding of the items — and how they’d work in an assortment.
Exhibitors can also benefit from the new feature. Due to the digital hosting of the showroom, data can be collected from all aspects of the buying journey; exhibitors can gain insight into which items are picked up, for how long and how many times. Live video meetings can also be set up between buyer and vendor, without need for a third-party app or VR software.
“This new development is a major breakthrough in that it recreates the real life fashion buying experience,” said Jennifer Drury, cofounder of BrandLab360. “Unlike the majority of digital showrooms, that are essentially b-to-b e-commerce platforms, our technology mimics real life in as much depth as possible because we understand that human relationships and interactivity will always remain the most important factor in our industry.”
Mass industry adoption of these digital buying tools became a necessity in 2020, when pandemic-related restrictions made physical shows impossible. However, these digital platforms believe that this new way of doing business will remain. By conducting meetings virtually, all participants can save money on the associated travel costs, while also minimizing the waste associated with sample products.
There is also the possibility of saved time, due to the capabilities of many of these platforms to conduct additional wholesale management, alongside virtual showroom. By enabling buyers to browse, build an assortment, and buy their products in one place, companies like BrandLab360 are streamlining the merchandising process.