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Here’s What’s New in First Insight’s Voice of the Customer Analytics Platform

First Insight, a technology provider that offers solutions designed to help retailers and brands use customer feedback and predictive analytics to improve product design, merchandising and pricing, is adding to new capabilities within its Voice of the Customer Analytics platform.

The expanded platform includes three new features—InsightConnect API, Digital Line Reviews and Risky Product Alerts—all designed to enable the digital product testing solution to further automate processes and fully integrate with other pricing and demand planning solutions.

“Through our work with many of the largest apparel and footwear retailers, brands, and manufacturers across the globe, we understand the importance and power of Voice of the Customer data to better select, price, and plan,” Greg Petro, CEO and founder of First Insight, told Sourcing Journal. “Consumer preferences are changing daily, and real-time customer input for accurate product selection and speed to market are critical for success. First Insight’s new analytics solutions enable streamlined capabilities and efficient workflow in the product development cycle so retailers and brands can reduce costs, cut time and offer the right product, at the right price, to the right customer.”

The launch of InsightConnect API is designed for retailers of all sizes, regardless of whether they are “testing hundreds or tens of thousands of items,” according to First Insight. The API can be integrated with product development and enterprise systems alike.

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The API is also designed to enable the InsightSuite predictive analytics platform to reduce nearly all friction points in executing an insight, whether it’s gathering trends such as customer product preferences, optimal pricing or assortment planning, so that decision makers and users can reach better product decisions faster and ultimately sell the most profitable product.

In a recent panel at the Texworld USA digital event, Charlie Holmes, global vice president of First Insight, said many retailers still haven’t yet integrated their disparate technologies, which can hinder proper demand planning.

“A lot of retailers that I’ve seen have a standalone PLM system and a standalone assortment planning system,” said Holmes during the event. “They utilize First Insight, and they have a digital CRM system, and none of these solutions really speak to each other and that just creates inefficiencies.”

The company also has launched Digital Line Reviews to provide a solution for remote review processes, giving users a logical template that is designed to support productive and accurate reviews, even when teams can’t be working together physically. This is all the more important for retailers as remote work has increased due to Covid-19, with most line or product review sessions that were previously held with physical product and teams together in the same room now conducted as video meetings.

The First Insight platform engages consumers by giving them an active voice in the product development process.
The First Insight platform engages consumers by giving them an active voice in the product development process. First Insight

As sell-in meetings are also held virtually, brands can leverage First Insight results to present item and line recommendations with greater confidence, ultimately leading to decisions that could generate increased revenues and margins.

“Line reviews and product selection have been a struggle for our merchants during the pandemic. The team usually travels to look at vendor lines, to touch and feel the product, but almost all of that travel has been eliminated,” said Mark Chrystal, chief analytics officer, Rue21.

“Our attempts at doing line reviews on Zoom meetings were not an effective replacement. With the Digital Line Review capability from First Insight, we’ve been able to expand our digital testing and increase how heavily we’re weighting the Voice of the Customer in our decision-making,” Chrystal added. “We had already been working with First Insight for a few years, and the COVID-19 outbreak has been a real catalyst for us to push the relationship to the next level.”

The third major new addition, Risky Product Alert, is designed to enable retailers and brands to identify potential controversial or offensive items based on keywords that consumers provide in feedback comments.

First Insight said that clients have already leveraged this offering to avoid producing and launching items that would have negatively impacted their brand reputation, revenues, and profitability by offending or upsetting their customer base.

“There are far too many examples of retailers and brands launching products that are offensive to groups of people and never should have made it to market,” Chrystal said. “One of the ways we’ve used the First Insight solution is to watch the consumer comments for indicators that a product might be controversial and should be dropped. Now, with the Risky Product Alert capability built into the platform, the work is done for us. This brings great peace of mind, especially given the fast-changing, young customers we serve.”

Wolverine Worldwide, which owns and operates 12 footwear brands including Merrell, Sperry, Hush Puppies, Saucony, Wolverine and Keds, is one of the most recent clients of First Insight, revealing earlier this month that they began a partnership with the company to leverage its Voice of Customer Analytics solution.

With the solution in hand, Wolverine said it could leverage data in its product decision-making process to improve speed to market, sell-in and sell-through while reducing markdowns. Specifically, the footwear company said that First Insight already has helped it better understand what its international customers want, enabling them to optimize global product offerings.