The world of 3D is no longer the future of retail, but the present day. 3D has been a buzzword in retail for years, but we begin 2022 with a refreshed perspective. The retail world has been forced to evolve in many ways due to the pandemic. It is not a secret that the supply chain is proven to have many weak links hyper exposed within the past two years, from production halts to shipping delays. Leading retailers across the landscape need to re-evaluate processes within their organizations to achieve greater cost savings, sustainability efforts, and efficiency. A significant shift in the direction of 3D implementation is proven to address these weak links.
But what is 3D?
Simply put, 3D is retail’s iteration of the technological advancements we are seeing in all aspects of our lives. Originally, design was completed with pen and paper, eventually evolving with the changing times to design assortments on computers in 2D. These technological advances led to improvements in time, efficiency, effort, and agility. These huge improvements are being further advanced by adding another dimension. 3D allows visualization of product much earlier in the design process and makes companies more nimble with assortment adjustments. For example, a specific style created in 3D has the ability to be changed in seconds to feature a fabrication that may have been sourced more recently, instead of physical samples that typically take weeks to view.
Product existing as 3D not only exists for simple viewing but is also interactive. 3D product can be animated by being dragged, dropped, and draped over silhouettes to detail drape and fabrication weight. It allows accurate visualization of how it will sit on different figures. Viewing 3D product in this way allows the customer to interact with the product almost as they would physically as if they were holding the item or trying it on. A simple click of the mouse can allow for endless possibilities of customer interaction with the product.
One of the weak links within retail has been time spent on production, including pre-season and in-season development. 3D implementation can improve production process speed by up to 25%, including reducing late add-ins and changes by up to 50% and improving first fit prototype approval rate by up to 80%. Additionally, this implementation leads to a reduction in line volatility by up to 50%. Due to the agile nature of 3D design paired with technological advancements in production, physical samples become unnecessary. Furthermore, weeks of correspondence between design and production teams becomes significantly reduced, from 4-6 weeks to 2-5 days. During this correspondence, there are fewer style changes, heightened accuracy in design, including easily pivotable graphics and fabrications, and faster approvals - in summary communication is seamless regarding design intent and improvements to be made. In addition, due to the decrease in time spent on design and production correspondence, merchandise planning can occur closer to the time of production, allowing for more accurate, demand-driven production, better Sell-Through rates, and increased margin. Simply put, at the end of the day, the customer, the retailer, and the vendor supplier all win.
It is no secret that retail is a major contributor to global waste and pollution. On the sustainability front, 3D implementation allows for a decrease in physical samples by at least 50%. Many retailers are sample-heavy and will go through many rounds of sample production. Other retailers that are SKU-heavy will naturally be overloaded with samples as well. 3D makes physical samples unnecessary. Digital samples are just as interactive and detailed as physical samples, if not more.
At the end of the day, retailers want to be profitable and capitalize on cost savings. 3D implementation allows for savings across the board with less time spent in design and production processes, a reduction in costs related to material handling, increased profitability and productivity once product hits the sales floor, as well as a decrease in photography costs. Photography can be extremely limited when compared to 3D. A single photograph can only be used in so many ways, whereas a 3D style can be utilized in endless ways for marketing and branding purposes.
Additionally, Digital samples can provide directive wholesale assortments and sell to retail accounts using the 3D showroom. Ownership of 3D product allows for more ease and also fewer costs related to showrooms. With 3D, there are infinite options for marketing imagery as compared to the limitations of a single photograph. In addition to all benefits mentioned, this implementation leads to Sell-Through increases by up to 5%. All of these are great reasons for retailers to move towards creating 3D assortments, but perhaps the largest driver would be the gap that would be bridged between retail and AR/VR. Retail has historically been slow to adapt to change, but creation of 3D assortment will give retailers who move in that direction a leg up.
This article is part of our 2022 "Crystal Ball" Trend Predictions report. Download the report here and discover more exciting topics we'll be exploring throughout the year.