Creating better retail experiences: Chris Colyer, Dassault Systèmes

Winning brands and retailers will be those that not only develop the right products, but engage people longer at the point of purchase with a satisfying retail experience. This level of experiences from store to web and from web to store is increasingly enabled by 3D technology.

Prajeet Nair Jan 18th 2018

In India, Dassault Systèmes have had significant success with Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited, Mohan Clothing (Blackberry), Myntra and Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail. Chris Colyer, WW VP Consumer Goods and Retail, Dassault Systèmes, is responsible for industry strategy, solution portfolio definition, development, management, revenue, and overall business performance accountability.

In an exclusive interview with IDG Media, Chris spoke about the significant success in India, and how they are working with about 17,000 international companies in fashion, home, lifestyle and retail to create and deliver quality products. Edited excerpts:

How do you plan to bring together in-store and digital experience (omni-channel) more engaging? What’s next?

The biggest challenge in today’s retail industry is about responding to the changing nature of the digital consumer. Consumers are still demanding product innovation and they want to shop anywhere anytime. Consumers also expect a different level of engagement with their favorite brands – they don’t just expect products, they expect experiences.

A store which creates an easy shopping experience and options for customization creates a positive emotional response, encouraging the consumer to shop longer, try and buy.

Digital solutions can turn this desirable shopping dream into a profitable reality. Investment in 3D merchandising solutions or 3D high-end visualization allow retailers to see the product collection as it evolves, see the planned assortment allocation from the perspective of the consumer. They can use digital assets for interactive experiences such as personalization online and in-store. And even if the consumer ultimately completes their purchase journey online, the retail environment is still the place to build lasting emotional connections.

Winning brands and retailers will be those that not only develop the right products but engage us longer at the point of purchase with a satisfying retail experience. This level of experiences from store to web and from web to store is increasingly enabled by 3D technology.

What kinds of technology are the retail markets expected to see in 2018?

As consumers emerge much more aware of their buying choices, in 2018, we expect the retail sector to move towards virtual retail, rampantly. India being the world’s fifth largest global retail destination, focus of retailers has shifted from the product to a whole new customer experience. Technology is playing a major role in revolutionizing this shift.

Be it smart fitting rooms which give suggestions based on customer’s preferences, virtual mirrors or even iPads that allow customers to find products; retailers are capitalizing on cutting-edge technology to offer never-before shopping solutions. It is essential for retailers to now create ‘social enterprises’ that involve their customers in the innovation process. With the help of advancements in technology, businesses can test and evaluate – anywhere in the development lifecycle of a product or service – the eventual experience they will deliver to their customers.

Who all are currently using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXCITE application or any other services in India?

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform from Dassault Systèmes aims to provide companies with the ability to visualize the consumer experience, model different assortment options and refine retail formats, analyze real-time sales data, and ensure that the consumer is provided with the ultimate shopping experience, regardless of channel.

We have had significant success in India with Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited, Mohan Clothing (Blackberry), Myntra and Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail. These are only some of the 17,000 international companies in fashion, home, lifestyle and retail that are successfully collaborating with Dassault Systèmes to create and deliver products that consumers love.

How is the Omni-channel environment in India? A lot of e-commerce site is going offline, what is your view on this? Is it common, has any other country is also leading the same way?

In the fast-moving world of fashion, styles come and go at lightning speed, and brands and retailers need to capture the consumer’s imagination to win their loyalty and business. Resolutely omnichannel, the fashion consumer is changing the rules of the game, demanding shopping experiences tailored to new media and new levels of personalization. Whether in a bricks-and-mortar store, where physical contact with the product and assistance from store personnel have their own special appeal, or on the web, open 24/7 and available from anywhere thanks to mobile technology, today’s consumer expects choice.

The future of retail in India is adoption of omni-channel strategy as it gives consumers a single, holistic view of the retail business by using different channels in a customer’s shopping experience - like mobile, online stores, mobile apps, telephone sales, physical stores and any other method of transacting with a customer. As per the findings of a recent report by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), this trend towards an omnichannel strategy will enable retailers to re-think their business strategy in order to tap the best of both worlds and maximize on footfalls.

The retail industry in India is witnessing an increased focus on leveraging technology across functions of merchandising, supply chain, store operations, omnichannel operations, customer engagement and fulfillment. Both retailers and retail spaces have to contend with a growing urban population, and one that is increasingly knowledgeable and demanding.

Offline retailers who have limited warehouse infrastructure may remodel their stores to add direct order fulfillment and stocking in the back office. The retail spaces can be more vibrant by providing more leisure activity. A curated mix of smaller stores in designated spaces within malls can add a sense of uniqueness, it is said.

We feel that the retailers have realized that the key to keeping the consumer entertained is to integrate physical and digital experiences to provide an interactive and all-inclusive in-store experience that is combined with excellent service. Innovative retailers are responding to the need of the hour and are adapting store formats to provide the interactive element that many consumers now desire. We can see that the retail market in India will primarily be driven by omnichannel as brick-and-mortar retailers are entering e-commerce to support their stores. Given the recent boom in the sector, e-commerce is capturing a bulk of retail sales. However, brick-and-mortar stores will never go out of fashion.

What solutions do Dassault Systemes provide to retail companies to forage into omni-channel space?

Just as brands and retailers need new ways to engage with their consumers to learn more about their preferences and desires, consumers too, want to engage directly with brands to express their unique tastes and identity. By offering an extended assortment and allowing consumers to personalize their products, retailers and brands can get the insights they seek, while consumers get to buy the product they really want. Imagine configuring your dream product – its color, fabric, trims and accessories – online or in a store’s immersive showroom or on its touchscreen-based system and displaying its cost and availability in real-time.

With Dassault Systemes’ My Retail Theatre consumers have the power of choice. Based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, this industry solution experience allows consumers to configure their personalized products on multiple touch points. Using just about any type of virtual display device, shopping becomes a personalized experience using interactive visual elements with photo-realistic quality.

With its dynamic web and in-store configurators, My Retail Theatre enables consumers to visually interact with products to create their own unique variations. With powerful rendering technology consumers can virtually see their products come to life with the touch of a finger, selecting materials, rotating the object to see it from all sides, and choosing backgrounds for a more realistic view. Once fully configured, consumers can proceed to check out, share their future product on social media to get friends’ opinions or save it for a later date.

My Retail Theatre has a fully-configurable rules engine that enables brands to define the various accessories, fabrics and available colors and the possible combinations providing them with full control of their brand image. My Retail Theatre can also function independently of a CAD system, opening up new prospects for companies that are not equipped with this type of software. They can generate a database of 3D images through reverse engineering, scanning their physical products and using rendering features to tweak the results.

What sets Dassault Systemes apart in the market?

Today’s consumers are more knowledgeable on products than ever before. And retailers are struggling to find the right assortment mix, the correct price points, and to ensure that inventories match demand. Those that are getting it right are more often those that listen carefully to consumer insights on social media and are able to clearly project their brand identity across all channels.

It is critical to plan with the retail experience in mind while maintaining the flexibility to react to consumer demand. While retailers must think about optimizing their merchandising, they must also adapt to consumer demands for a more personalized and omnichannel shopping experience.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform from Dassault Systèmes provides companies with the ability to visualize the consumer experience, model different assortment options and refine retail formats, analyze real-time sales data, and ensure that the consumer is provided with the ultimate shopping experience, regardless of channel.