The digital enhancement of the retail industry

The digital enhancement of the retail industry

Chris Colyer of Dassault Systèmes explains how companies can successfully transition to digital

Toby Ingleton |

This article first appeared in the Winter issue of The Record.

Across the retail, fashion and consumer goods sector, companies are making the leap to digital. But to do it successfully, they need a consistent, consolidated offering to help ensure the customer experience is to the level required.

According to Chris Colyer, vice president of the consumer goods and retail industry at Dassault Systèmes, companies in the retail industry have been thinking about how they can digitise their business for a number of years.

“The challenge is how it relates to omnichannel – how they bring together the in-store and digital experience and make it engaging and relevant for their customers,” says Colyer. “They need it to be seamless, so that it makes the selection and buying process really easy.”

As part of their transformation strategies, companies are building modern supply chains and are creating what Colyer describes as ‘virtual universes of interconnected creators, makers and consumers’.

“This is the heartbeat of what we’re trying to bring to the consumer goods, fashion and retail industry – the notion of concept to consumer,” he explains. “It centres on the ability for companies to move fast. And fast doesn’t mean urgent – it means that the opportunity to impact consumer needs is in real time.”

To boost their efficiency and effectiveness in this respect, retailers and brands are condensing their processes and harnessing new levels of insight from their customers and the wider market.

“It’s becoming increasingly important to be able to take insight and use it to drive data-structured thinking in such a way that allows companies to accelerate tasks like seasonal line planning, and present consumers with products they will be more likely to buy,” Colyer says.

At the same time, brands and retailers are also looking to make the shopping experience more immersive, exciting and personalised. To do this, Colyer explains that they need intuitive technology that gets them to their end goal quicker.

“At Dassault Systèmes, we think about industry solution experiences from the initial point of concept, all the way to how they interact with the consumer,” Colyer says, pointing to companies they work with in different segments, from fashion, leather goods, footwear, to home, lifestyle and retail. “Many of our customers use high-end 3D visualisation that allows an end consumer to fully configure a product based on their preferences – they can design their own custom experience. They are leveraging our technology and building on our 3DEXCITE applications and ‘My Retail Theatre’ industry solution experience, and connecting it with their omnichannel approach. Customers can configure exactly what they want in store. It’s an example of how we’re seeing companies leverage our technology to get to the ‘consumer of one’.”

Dassault Systèmes has a focus on helping companies across the entire product development lifecycle, with Colyer highlighting the ‘opportunity to impact the experiences of how companies deliver and build their products’.

“Through our 3DEXPERIENCE platform, companies have a way to consolidate information and help their creators, designers and merchandisers think about the elements they need to take into account when developing the best possible products, assortments and retail experiences,” he explains.

Companies need to unlock ideation and anticipate winning trends by getting closer to their customers. ‘Concept to consumer’ thinking is the driver that underlies Dassault Systèmes’ product lifecycle management (PLM) and visualisation direction. Brands and vertical retailers can leverage 3D prototypes early in the process, through online social and sales channels, to inform and influence consumers and collect immediate and direct feedback. These key insights greatly improve the success rate of future sales prior to a product even being commercialised or produced. As the lines of design and development become more fluid between brand and consumer, it’s also critical to capture and re-use feedback and options in both unstructured, such as social innovation, and structured ways, such as PLM.

“How people look at their assortment planning, and the way they think about their store planning in a virtual, visual way is very much front of mind,” says Colyer. “We do that through our virtual assortment planning and our store planning with a solution called My Store.”

Ultimately, Colyer says Dassault Systèmes is aiming to be at the forefront of helping customers in the retail, fashion and consumer goods space complete their digitisation journey, and then continue to support them as their business evolves.

“We want to help our customers as they digitise their business,” he says. “We want to be the company that makes digital transformation simple and easy. We want to be the company that grows as your company grows.”

Colyer adds that by thinking at the industry level as a software company, Dassault Systèmes is able differentiate itself within the industries it operates.

“For example, we’re the only company with a FashionLab – a technology incubator, or innovation lab, that’s doing accelerated development with customers today,” he concludes. “It’s having assets like this that positions us in a unique way – it enables us to create relevant industry solution experiences that will make a real difference.”


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