Janice Wang, Alvanon CEO, spoke with Retail Week to discuss some of the technologies she believes will shape the future of retail.
Technology allows us to change how we produce, from making minimum orders of millions, to a million orders of one, at speed. The consensus is that the industry is trending towards AI-assisted shopping and a personalized retail experience; everyone is talking about it. There’s no doubt this will eventually happen. Ultimately, consumerism becomes more sustainable if we are willing to change our manufacturing processes and methods and make less product but make it more relevant to the consumer. And one technology, above all others, stands out to Janice Wang.
3D technology has been available for a while in a variety of other industries. Automotive manufacturers, for example, were quick to adopt additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, to help improve a variety of areas – prototyping, product design, and production – ultimately resulting in shorter lead times and lower costs. The apparel industry, however, has been slow to embrace 3D solutions; including design and development on virtual bodies. These digital representations of the human body are used to represent a brand’s fit standards and are pivotal for optimizing a sizing and fit strategy. Over the years, Alvanon has worked with over 1000 brands creating more than 6000 virtual bodies – each one representing the real body shape of a brand’s target consumer population.
In 2015, Reebok recognized it was under-serving its CrossFit apparel line and its customers. Reebok CrossFit approached Alvanon to implement a 3D body-scan shape survey of Crossfit athletes. Alvanon scanned the bodies of over 300 crossfit athletes enabling apparel designers to address problem areas such as where to place cut seams, adjusting for unrestricted movement, and zoning in terms of heat regulation, protection, and anti-abrasion protection.
A 3D ecosystem based on the right virtual bodies, right processes, and right people enables fashion retailers to develop product faster and more sustainably. It allows for greater consumer personalization of products, and offers consumers the ability to “virtually” test items before they are produced. Having the right product, in the right amounts, priced correctly, when the consumer is ready to buy will yield higher sell-throughs, fewer markdowns, and will significantly boost the bottom line.