Bordeaux, France may be known for wine, but Lectra served up an intoxicating slate of presentations on how to capture today’s consumer at the company’s VIP Event this week.
Over two days, the technology firm presented a slew of reasons why personalization isn’t the future—it’s the present.
Even Ariana Grande made a brief appearance. Or at least her latest hit single, “7 Rings”, did. Set to the tune of the Sound of Music’s Favorite Things, the chorus, “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it” is more than a pop chart topper. It could very well be the anthem for the young singer’s entire generation—and likely all of the ones to come as well.
Spoiled by on-demand car services, bespoke cappuccinos and curated playlists, consumers are no longer dictated to. In the time it would take Madison Avenue to concoct an ad designed to lure shoppers to the latest must-have purchases, Insta-influencers have crowned and then clowned a dozen here-today, gone-tomorrow goods.
They see it, they like it, they want it, they buy it.
For brands that can deliver this one-click immediacy, the future is bright. But for those still clinging to long-lead times and cookie-cutter collections, this may be the beginning of the end.
Peter Jeavons, general manager, Europe for predictive analytics firm First Insight, said standing still is not an option today.
“It used to be the case from a technology point of view that doing something always presented more risk than doing nothing. There is a growing belief now that it’s more risky to do nothing than to do something,” Jeavons said, adding that this is especially true in relation to keeping pace with the modern hyper-connected consumer. “If you’re not doing something and other people are, you’re falling behind.”
Craig Crawford, IT strategist and former Burberry VP, said 27 percent of brands are offering some sort of personalization now. Meanwhile, 41 percent of consumers say they want this type of product—and they’re willing to pay 20 percent more, he said. While that spells opportunity, the apparel industry has struggled to realize it.
Crawford is amazed that many of the interactive, customizable and engaging campaigns Burberry launched nearly a decade ago still aren’t the norm today.
The British brand has been pushing the limits of product development and production to provide exclusivity and personalization to the shopping experience and the product itself, all the while working around the fact that the tools to do so properly were not in place.
For instance, Crawford said the company created a separate production line back in 2010 to fulfill custom trench coat orders. With permutations that hovered around 60 million, it was almost more than the team could manage given that they were working with paper and other rudimentary tools.
Today, the newly minted Fashion on Demand by Lectra platform promises a much more high-tech solution to customizable product like this, as well as made-to-measure offerings and small batch production.
“We are what we wear and we wear what we are. This puts tremendous pressure on fashion players and the entire supply chain,” said Céline Choussy, chief marketing officer for Lectra. “Personalization means we’re no longer in push mode hoping it will sell, we produce based on what our customers are willing to buy.”
Fashion on Demand leverages the company’s existing equipment and software along with new tools to create a complete solution that streamlines the entire process from concept to cutting, making small-batch, and even one-off production, possible. The idea is to help the apparel industry move from a design, make, sell model to a design, sell, make future.
The collaborative, cloud-based system is offered in three packages: made to order for capsules, made to customize for customizable options and made to measure for the most personalized fits and aesthetics.
Christine Dandieu, sales director fashion at Lectra, calls Fashion on Demand “the first digital solution that allows personalization at the same pace as ready to wear.”
The platform provides end-to-end order management; digitized materials libraries; predefined, configurable workflows; and automated cutting that’s designed to remove steps, eliminate errors, foster collaboration and ultimately help brands deliver unique product to the market.
And it’s that difference that will help brands gain attention and sales, according to Mathieu Bonenfant, Lectra’s product marketing director.
“There is pressure on creativity because of e-commerce, and creativity is what makes you stand out. You need to invest to automate the non-value-added tasks and move into what makes you different, what [gives you the ability to compete],” he said.
It will also resonate with apparel companies looking to win over shoppers who can personalize everything from their playlists to their streaming queues.