Any regular reader of this column knows that Voice of the Customer (VoC) is one of many crucial data points needed by consumer-facing companies to survive today. Without it, product development and marketing teams will continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over, wasting time and money, through emotionally based gut decision making.
Data-driven product development decisions create more engaged customers. The most advanced way of ensuring that consumers will purchase the products you’re making is by uniting Voice of the Customer analytics technologies with 3D Digital Product Creation (DPC). Leveraging both of these functionalities together maximizes investment, value and ROI, while helping brands and retailers to stay competitive in today’s rapidly evolving landscape.
VoC can and should be employed at any stage of product development, with or without DPC. However, more mature companies that introduce high-fidelity 3D models into the VoC process reap the most significant benefits. On a “good, better, best” scale, using product photos at the end of sample development in leveraging VoC is a good way to help merchants make smart decisions on product selection and pricing. A better option is leveraging sketches and artwork earlier in the customer process to give directional design feedback. The best possible way of working is to capture VoC at the concept stage by testing 3D assets. Customers can then fully understand how the product will look and product teams will be given multiple opportunities to iterate based on highly valuable customer feedback. Testing 3D assets early in the process diminishes risk as well as sample creation expenses, since only the final “customer approved” versions would then be put into the sample creation pipeline.
Significant results in marrying VoC with DPC have been driven by companies including Wolverine Worldwide, Kohl’s
Lindsey Goodman, Director of Consumer Insights at Wolverine Worldwide, state that the company has the potential to shorten its product development calendar by at least 40 percent and to reduce physical sample creation by up to 70 percent by leveraging customer-driven analytics and digital style testing.
Dan Plas, Senior Vice President—Digital & Ecommerce at Kohl’s, stated that wholesale partners who can embed a higher level of certainty into their products enjoy the added benefit of providing retail partners with a much higher level of confidence in the product selection. Kohl’s, one of the best examples of consumer-led retailers, consistently strives to find better ways to service the customer while leaning into predictive analytics and digital product testing to allow merchant teams to be more proactive.
Marks & Spencer saw a dramatic increase in conversion when they transitioned to VoC testing using 3D images instead of the more traditional 2D CADS. The London-based multinational retailer has achieved a 12 percent higher sell-through on tested products versus untested products while also collecting 50 percent more customer comments, providing more actionable feedback to its development teams.
The benefits of VoC and DPC to consumer engagement and conversion are myriad. The best way to get started is to understand the potential impact and benefits these processes can generate together. Considering where your company stands at the moment, then mapping out key milestones to get to the ideal state is the first step. An overall product development process will help your company scale and track efforts cross-functionally and throughout the business. Utilizing holistic, cross-functional collaboration that considers the aspirations and needs of all stakeholders will create the right environment for a successful transformation.