Marks & Spencer enhances private label product development

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A British retail giant is using digital product testing and 3D design technology to make better decisions about new private-label goods.

Marks & Spencer is leveraging a combination of the First Insight digital product testing solution and Optitex 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) software in its private label development. The retailer seeks to better understand its customers, increase speed to market, support digital workflows, create sustainable sampling processes, and reduce waste.

Marks & Spencer had already been leveraging First Insight’s consumer-driven predictive analytics software solution to support design, buying and pricing decisions across categories including apparel, lingerie, footwear, accessories, food, home, and beauty. The retailer has used the platform to test tens of thousands of products across more than 50 departments, in an effort to create collections and assortments that meet customer demand, at the right prices.

Having achieved successful results from new product testing using the First Insight solution and Optitex 2D CAD technology, Marks & Spencer has now begun using 3D CAD visualizations in its product testing for a number of departments. 

The retailer says its transition to 3D imagery has resulted in increased test completion rates and boosted respondents’ comments by 50%, providing richer product feedback to the company’s product development and merchant teams. The use of 3D CAD technology has also reduced cost and lead time in Marks & Spencer’s product development process. 

In addition, by digitizing the product development cycle, Marks & Spencer has eliminated the need to create and traffic physical samples, host showroom visits and conduct in-store product testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The retailer plans to continue digital product development post-pandemic, in an effort to achieve long-term sustainability and efficiency.

“We are excited to continue our relationship with First Insight and Optitex as we transition our strategy to a more digital product development-focused model,” said Elaine Wheeler, head of digital product development at Marks & Spencer. “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. We’ve put customer-focused digital innovation at the heart of our business, and this partnership will allow us to bring winning products that our customers truly want to market more quickly and sustainably.”

Marks and Spencer operates over 1,500 stores spanning 62 countries across the world.