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Li & Fung’s LFX Launches ‘3D-as-a-Service’ Tech Venture

Although supply chain titan Li & Fung Ltd. just launched its LFX offshoot earlier this month in efforts to accelerate supply chain digitization, the new incubator is wasting no time putting these plans into action by launching a new service.

LFX has launched UNIFi3D, a “3D-as-a-service” technology company aimed at helping fashion brands transition to creating and selling products digitally—which the company refers to as digital product creation and commerce (DPCC). UNIFi3D is built to work directly with apparel brands and retailers to guide them at all steps of the 3D design process, whether they’re just getting started or attempting to scale ongoing efforts.

Idy Lee, formerly head of Li & Fung’s Digital Product Development Center of Excellence, will lead UNIFi3D as head of services, bringing her team of 3D and supply chain experts into the program. Going forward, UNIFi3D will serve as the primary arm of Li & Fung to provide 3D services to its customers.

“While 3D is the first step to digital transformation, it requires a technology savvy workforce,” Lee said in a statement. “Apparel brands, however, are built by creative, artistic people with vision—not technologists. Brands who partner with UNIFi3D benefit from our product development expertise and manufacturing know-how, while their designers continue to provide the creative vision.”

The company boasts more than 100,000 digital library assets, 500,000 total digital images made, 20,000 unique SKUs and more than 50 product categories.

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The company boasts more than 100,000 digital library assets, 500,000 total digital images made, 20,000 unique SKUs and more than 50 product categories.

“The UNIFi3D team has been providing industry-leading digital product creation and commerce services for 100+ apparel brands during the last three years as part of Li & Fung,” said Ed Lam, CEO of LFX, in a statement. “As an LFX company, UNIFi3D has the most experienced 3D team providing direct services to accelerate apparel brands’ transition to creating and selling products digitally at scale.”

LFX says that the UNIFi3D service can reduce product development time by as much as 70 percent, dramatically accelerating time-to-market and enabling brands to respond more quickly to consumer trends.

Images created via the service are designed to be viewed so that brands can test the market with 3D products without expensive photoshoots, ideally making it easier to move from line review to e-commerce and marketing.

With this in mind, UNIFi3D also seeks to help brands begin sales and marketing efforts prior to the manufacturing process for increased sell-through. Even while increasing sell-through, the service aims to eliminate or reduce physical samples to drive sustainability initiatives and minimize waste.

The 3D product components that brands can provide to UNIFi3D at the start include block/2D pattern, tech pack, digital avatar, fabric swatch, trims and artwork. If a brand doesn’t already have these, UNIFi3D will either help them identify sources or help them create them.

Brands don’t even need to know how to use 3D software upon working with UNIFi3D, which provides all 3D services, including revisions. Users can send feedback, comments and revision requests to UNIFi3D.

The 3D product components that brands can provide to UNIFi3D at the start include block/2D pattern, tech pack, digital avatar, fabric swatch, trims and artwork. If a brand doesn’t already have these, UNIFi3D will either help them identify sources or help them create them.

As part of its mission to help retailers in the digital product creation process, UNIFi3D also provides 3D education services to its client base, focusing on how to ensure the successful adoption of this technology.

Workshops help brands avoid the common pitfalls for transitioning to DPCC, as well as learning the different ways 3D products can be used to identify market trends, gain greater confidence in buy-orders, and how to better coordinate between sourcing, merchandising, design and e-commerce teams.

First-time visitors to the UNIFi3D website are greeted with a chatbot that asks “What would you like to improve in your business?” and gives three options: get products to market fast, increase regular sell-thru and reduce carbon footprint. From there, the bot asks where visitors are in their product journey before requesting a name and email, where a rep will make the contact for an initial consultation.

UNIFi3D is the first major project launch from LFX, which is designed to serve as incubation, investment and operating platform that covers all aspects of the value chain, including trade, information and fund flows. Li & Fung noted during the LFX launch that its initial ventures focused on 3D digital product development, now revealed to be UNIFi3D, and supply chain fintech.

As part of its investment goals, LFX also has a venture capital arm to identify and invest in technologies transforming global retailing, supply chain and logistics.

The LFX launch comes less than a year after JD.com invested $100 million in Li & Fung, giving the company significant capital to further develop the digital supply chain.