This article was first published in the Winter 2014 issue of Speak
In the world's major cities like London, Beijing and Berlin, customers and potential buyers can nowadays walk into a carmaker's showroom and experience an entirely different way of browsing and buying cars. Turning the traditional dealership concept on its head, a German premium car brand took the lead in introducing the world’s first digital car dealership in 2012. This impressive contemporary showroom format allows customers to configure their dream car on touchscreen tables and see virtual 3D models in near life-size scale on awe-inspiring floor-to-ceiling technology walls.
All of the computer generated assets for this new point-of-sale concept – thousands of films and more than one million images based on the carmaker's 3D master models – were created using 3DEXCITE software from Dassault Systèmes. As one of the contributors to the project, the 3D visualization solutions provider 3DEXCITE (formerly RTT) is now part of Dassault Systèmes’ flagship 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and transforms engineering data into powerful visual experiences for high-impact storytelling across all media channels.
“This experience concept is a great example of the future of retail,” says Philippe Loeb, vice president of Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail at Dassault Systèmes. “It demonstrates just how effectively we can combine the physical and virtual worlds to create exciting customer experiences that exceed expectations and offer a new dimension of brand engagement. The results that this car manufacturer has achieved so far are compelling; the company has seen a dramatic increase in sales, opened up different ways of selling to new customers, and has been able to take its showrooms into areas where few competitors have a presence.”
It’s just two years since Dassault Systèmes announced its intentions to become a ‘3DEXPERIENCE Company’, yet it has already made some impressive headway bringing its 3D vision to life. “We’re delighted with the success we’ve achieved so far,” says Loeb. “But this is not something that has just happened overnight. Our new strategy has been years in the making and that’s why we’re so relevant in the market. We’ve not just introduced a slightly improved product lifecycle management solution; we’ve created something totally different – a strategy that is ideally suited to the experience-centric world we live in today.”
At the heart of Dassault Systèmes’ strategy is the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform – a set of common software tools and technologies that combine 3D modelling, simulation and information intelligence to facilitate collaboration and advanced systems engineering. To this platform, the company has added a range of new solutions including 3DXCITE, My Store, Perfect Shelf and My Collection – all of which are helping retailers, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, fashion designers and more to embrace 3D and deliver differentiated experiences to their customers.
“Companies are embracing solutions such as My Store and Perfect Shelf, which is clear confirmation to us that we’re heading in the right direction when it comes to meeting the industry’s needs,” says Loeb. “We believe that 3D technologies will play an increasingly essential role within retail and CPG companies in the years to come, helping them to put high-quality experiences at the very core of their strategies.”
At a time when consumers are placing the value of the user experience above the value of the product or service itself, Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE strategy could not be more relevant.
“Today, shoppers want experiences, not transactions, and this means that retailers and brand manufacturers need to view the buying journey through the eyes of the shopper, creating differentiated experiences that establish emotional connections and unify all channels,” explains Loeb. “Ultimately, retailers need to deliver a level of continuity that unites in-store, online and mobile channels, and merges the physical and digital worlds. So whether a customer is shopping in store, at home or on their smartphone, they should be getting the same, consistent experience.”
CPG companies are also taking inspiration from what’s going on in today’s experience-centric world, and are applying similar strategies to improve their own processes and launch products that their customers really want.
“The CPG industry is looking to be more agile than ever,” says Loeb. “The models of the past have been focused on creating a product, testing it with consumers, launching mass marketing campaigns and then waiting for people to buy the product, but this doesn’t work anymore. Today, companies need to be able to react quickly to market changes, make smart decisions fast and better engage with suppliers and customers to deliver winning products. To succeed, they require technological solutions that allow them to connect their operations, visualise products right from the stage of inception, and communicate effectively, both internally and externally.”
Loeb highlights Barilla, a global leader in the pasta industry, as a great example of a CPG company that has embraced the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform to dramatically improve its processes and deliver high-impact, engaging experiences for both its customers as well as its employees.
A decade ago, the company adopted the Dassault Systèmes’ ENOVIA application to support a strategic initiative that aimed to streamline its organisation and processes corporate-wide. In the years that followed, Barilla witnessed the Dassault Systèmes Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail offering evolve into a streamlined and comprehensive framework with dedicated functionalities for artwork and labelling. So when the 3DEXPERIENCE platform was released, it was only logical for the company to continue its relationship with Dassault Systèmes and to adopt the Perfect Package Industry Solution Experience and its Artwork and Labelling Industry Process Experience.
Today, with common processes and data, Barilla has introduced a new way to manage its product value chain, ensuring that nobody is working on outdated samples or making decisions that eventually have to be rescinded. At the same time, the company is benefiting from having a digital environment to develop its packaging. Instead of sending physical samples and proofs back and forth to external agencies, everything is done digitally – saving on costly physical prototypes and printing. Labelling data is also now all held centrally by Barilla, helping to streamline collaboration and giving employees easy access to the information they need.
Together, all these changes are allowing the company to transform the way it works and to take full advantage of the know-how of every stakeholder to create product packaging that captures consumers’ attention and encourages them to buy.
“We’ve been working with Barilla for many years,” says Loeb. “They’re a fantastic company that is representative of what’s going on in the industry at the moment. Not only has the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform helped them to streamline their processes and improve organisation-wide collaboration, but it has boosted their confidence about expanding into new markets. They’ve united their supply chain – from technical development and manufacturing all the way down to the customer. Ultimately, that’s helping them to make sure that everything they produce is right the first time.”
For some, moving from a transaction-centric to an experience-centric approach may seem like a daunting task, but Loeb believes that Dassault Systèmes is best placed to support their transition.
“I believe in our solution and the capabilities it delivers to help our customers embrace this transformation,” says Loeb. “Every time a brand launches a product, it needs to bring together expertise from many different domains. From branding, packaging and design, to the manufacturing, science and legal departments – all of these skills need to stop working in silos and come together in the most effective manner to deliver a winning product. What the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform does is connect all of these components, enabling our customers to deliver differentiating, consumer-centric experiences.”
Looking ahead, Loeb says that Dassault Systèmes will build on what it has achieved so far and will remain focused on making 3D experiences a reality in the retail and CPG industries and beyond. “We’re committed to helping our customers embrace 3D to deliver next-generation experiences that exceed consumer expectations,” he explains. “As the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds continue to blur, we will keep driving momentum by delivering more solution experiences and developing even more partnerships with industry. The future is 3D and we’re here to help our customers ride this next wave of innovation.”
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