by Elyse Dupre and James Jarnot
Creating optimal customer experiences is a top priority for many retailers. In fact, 65% of retail executives polled say providing the best customer experience possible is the most important factor when obtaining approval for sales and marketing technology investments, according to the “Breaking Through Customer Engagement Barriers with Innovative Marketing and Technologies” report by Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Retail Touchpoints. And the best customer experiences are those that are relevant—powered by multichannel customer data and messaging.
However, piecing this multichannel data together can leave marketers feeling puzzled. According to the report, 47% of retail executives rank “using their existing customer data effectively,” as their greatest marketing challenge, followed by “integrating social and mobile data” (18%), “using analytics” (11%), and “integrating new data” (8%).
When it comes to completing the overall picture of the customer, a majority of marketers (58%) agree that transactional and purchase history information are the most valuable types of data, the report notes. Following far behind in importance are behavioral and attitudinal data (14%) and demographic data (14%). Just 5% of respondents say social media data is the most valuable, and only 2% list Web browsing history data as important, according to the report. This lack of emphasis on key areas of customer data may leave puzzling gaps in insight.
Real-time data also proves to be a brain twister. The report cites that less than a quarter of respondents (23%) use real-time data to generate customer offers frequently and less than one third (30%) admit to doing so infrequently. In fact, 11% say they don’t use real-time data to produce customer offers at all. However, 36% say they would like to do so in the future.
But piecing together multichannel data isn’t the only thing retailers are stumped on. They also struggle with multichannel messaging. According to the report, only 37% of retail executives provide consistent marketing messages across all channels. Of the remaining 63%, 50% say they synchronize their messaging across some channels, but not all, and 13% say they treat each channel separately.
Elyse Dupre is a reporter at Direct Marketing News and covers ever-evolving trends in the marketing world.James Jarnot is the Art Director at Direct Marketing News.
Last Spring 2007 I had several posts relating to the first BSC Introduction to Fashion in Second Life Project on this blog.
- Virtual Fashion Project Spring 2007
- NMC 2007 Symposium on Creativity in Second Life
- SLCC 2007 Education Track
- SURL – BSC Fashion Student exhibit in SL
I am currently working with a new Intro to Second Life class this spring [Intro to Second Life: Part I] and I will share more of that in the next post, but I also completed a class last fall 2007 that I would like to share with you in this post. [note: see Register for College Level Intro to Virtual Fashion in SL [fall 08']}
I finally got a chance to document the assignments and links to some student work from a class I held in the fall of 2007 titled Virtual Fashion. This class was a continuation of the Introduction To Fashion in Second Life Project that I incorporated into my FashionCAD class the previous spring. The class began with introducing students to various Web 2.0 applications that they could incorporate into the virtual fashion class. I have posted a series of assignments that students completed in the class.
Establishment of a WordPress Blog: Student set up free WordPress bolgs to document the project we worked on in the Virtual Fashion class.
Establishment of a FLICKR sites. Students set up free FLICKR accounts to upload Second Life images that would be linked to their WordPress blog.
DEL.ICIO.US accounts Students set up DEL.ICIO.US accounts to keep a record of the Web research they conducted.
BLOGHUD accounts Students set up free Second Life BLOGHUD accounts to document their Second Life explorations.
The first assignment (and WordPress entry) involved visiting some Second Life fashion establishments. We all had an excellent in-world treat visiting Sheliei Winkler’s [aka: Shenlei Flashart]. Shenlei is the director of the Fashion Research Instituteand is on the cutting edge of integrating virtual world product development for the fashion industry. Shenlei who is a master builder and fashion designer in Sl and RL was an excellent presenter to the fashion students that were new to Second Life.
Each student set up a free Zazzle account and upload designs to it. ZAZZLE is a site where you can upload your designs and potential clients can choose custom items to purchase with your design. The designer earns a percentage of the total cost of the item. It’s a wonderful intro to mass customization and personalization business experience with no overhead costs to the designer. They posted an entry on their blog.
Students uploaded about 10-12 repeat pattern textures to Second Life. Students could also use high resolution versions of these designs to place on various ZAZZLE products. They posted their texture collections on to their blogs.
Go and purchase a Loop Rez Deluze in SL and sue it to develop your own flexi skirt designs. Here is a link to ged’s anti-blog, there is a link to a link to a tutorial there.
Virtual Store Layout and Design Project – Students developed their own virtual world fashion boutique concept and built their customized version in Second Life. An example of MeuMeu’s fashion boutique in different stages of construction is displayed below, beneath that is Jade Seilings fashion boutique and under Jade’s is Fausto’s Boutique. Student posted these entries to their individual blogs. SL locations of individual student boutiques in SL on the Buffalo State island are:
Go to the Buffalo State island. Open the MAP and click on it to activate the red circle location icon. Type in the coordinates listed above for the different boutique locations and teleport over.
Assignment #10: Simultaneous real world virtual world marketing project.
Students developed their custom ZAZZLE page to include 10-12 designs and replicated these RL designs in SL to place into their customized SL fashion boutiques. They created product presentation packages in SL that included a pose of their avatar wearing the t-shirt they designed. The permissions were set on the SL presentation packages so that anyone could get a free copy of the t-shirt for their avatar to wear in SL. Each presentation package also included a Web link to their ZAZZLE page that had a RL version of the same design that could be purchased in RL. The presentation packages are displayed in their customized SL fashion boutiques. They posted this entry on to their blogs. Below are examples of MeuMeu’s SL ZAZZLE packages [larger images are on MeuMeu's Webblog.]
Industry Project – During the course of this class we had an opportunity to collaborate with a contact from Sears. Each student located two RL items for sale on the Sears Web site and developed replicas of those items for SL. Web links to the RL item were added to the SL item. Since this project was completed in the fall of 2007, all the RL items from the Sears pages were sold out – all that remains are the SL items. All completed SL items were sent to the Sears contact to conduct some in world marketing research on simultaneous virtual and real world promotion. The location of the Sears student exhibit on the Buffalo State Island in SL is 228,82,38
Virtual Fashion Pro and POSER – the last project in this class involved developing custom garments in Virtual fashion Pro and exporting them to Poser. In Poser student posed the fashion and photographed them for their professional portfolio. An example of MeuMeu’s poser example is posted below.
Here are the WordPress blog links for some of the Virtual Fashion Students that participated in this project:
There are several more videos I will share with you in this final post of this OptiTex Outside of the Box Technology Series.
The integrated collaboration and development goals of the OptiTex product have resulted in a unique multidimensional product development tool for the Fashion industry that is leading many to ask is it real or is it virtual?
The OptiTex cloth rendering and animation engines are exceptional. I will share two more videos [posted below] to demonstrate that in this final post of the series.
In a past post I mentioned that companies and/or brand could use the OptiTex multidimensional application to develop their own set of sizing standards either by inputting body scans of the fit models or using a plug-in for standardized industry dress forms.
Companies and/or Brands can also globally centralize the fabric/material testing and input the individual cloth properties such as bend, stretch, shear, damping, shrinkage, weight, thickness for the OptiTex fashion product developers.
3D Chalk/Vector Tool
Another upcoming development in a future version will be the OptiTex 3D Chalk Tool [see video above]. It is another example of expanding communication options by working simultaneously in a multidimensional 2D>3D environment. It enables the user to sketch notes anywhere on the 3D image. More important to me then the 3D Chalk tool is the vector Pen Tool. This handy little Pen Tool enables the user to position the 3D image in any rotational view so that a technical vector flat sketch can easily and quickly be drawn over the 3D fashion product. This is an exceptional technical spec tool. The user can very quickly develop front, back and side technical specs from the 3D rotational views. This feature will be available in Version 11.
This brings us to the end of the most recent OptiTex series. You may be wondering why I have focused so much on the OptiTex product? Quite honestly I an a fashion/textile technology addict for the past 21 years. I started out transferring all my traditional, aesthetic and technical skills over to 2D technology in 1987 and have been retooling ever since. I love all aspects of Fashion Technology and the OptiTex product is the first product I have come across over the years that truly integrates all the separate aspects (on an equally high quality level) of fashion technology ( first 2D and more recently 3D) that I have been working on for the last 21 years like garment pattern development, marker making, technical specs, texture mapping, print, weave and knit surface CAD design, [and more recently] 3D fashion product development, simulation and animation.
Yes, there are many other excellent high quality widly used industry flat pattern development and marker making applications like Gerber, Lectra, Assyst, PAD and 3D applications like Maya and 3D Studio MAX. Quite honestly some of the most widely known fashion applications in the industry have only recently realized the critical necessity of integrating 3D technology into existing 2D applications and the highly significant impact the resulting quick response, cost effectiveness, global fitting standardization, pre-marketing and marketing uses this multidimensional application will provide for the fashion industry. In house development on some integrated 2D/3D integrated systems has been uneven. Not all companies embrace external partnerships and collaborations like OptiTex has with established leaders in industry.
I can tell you from many years of first hand experience in fashion education with struggling to integrate different technology applications that there is nothing like a turn-key integrated equally high quality multi-application system for all aspects of fashion product development. It is an exceptional educational tool for visually teaching students how their 2D flat-pattern designs will look on a 3D form.
I wanted to share the results of my years of hands on experience and research with you. If I run across another similar high quality integrated system I will share the results of my new research with you…
OptiTex has developed a new flattening and stitching technology. Here is a link to a flat pattern to 3D video. How you may be asking is this flattening technology different? The difference is that you can trace directly onto the 3D virtual avatar/mannequin form to create a 2D flat pattern piece that can then be stitched together.
This powerful feature is possible because of unique partnerships and/or linkages that OptiTex has formed with leaders in the 3D rendering, simulation and animation industry.
When I first reviewed this video I had to watch it several times. Each time I watched it I was looking at it from a different perspective. Try it – review the video three times, each time you play it wear another hat. First wear the hat of the product developer, then the retailer, and finally the educator.
This flattening technology really powerfully illustrates the fact that the OptiTex product is the first fully integrated multi dimensional product development package that empowers the user to work in real time from 2D to 3D to 2D again is a smooth seamless back and forth workflow. Change the measurements in the number fields and you will instantly see results on the 2D flat pattern of on the 3D virtual model avatar form. The 3D rendering, cloth and animation engines are just as advanced and high quality as the 2D Marker making and flat pattern development applications are.
As a fashion product developer think about how much an application like this can shorten the development time and cut costs as a result. As a retailer think about the 3D imagery created during the development process – and how this 3D imagery can be used to market (and pre-market) the product online using a personalized avatar. Remember how Virtual Product Presentation was using the imagery? Here is a link to that VPP stitching process that they also are using to market their pattern making service. You instantly have access to a 360 degree rotational view of the product to use on your marketing Website. Instant access to this digital 3D imagery will eliminate steps and cut costs. You can even pre-market your products using this technology. As an educator this application will teach students how to conceptualize their 2 patterns being pieced together and sewn into a 3D garment right in front of their eyes. What an educational tool!
Start by directly tracing the patterns pieces you want directly on the 3D virtual avatar/mannequin form.
When you have the desired number of pieces, make any changes to your lines or add notches or buttons.
All you have to do to create your 2D pattern pieces from your tracing is click directly on the traced pieces that you created on the 3D virtual avatar/mannequin form.
Your 2D flat patterns will be instantly created in real time on the opposite side of the same screen.At this point you can make any modifications you would like to the 2D flat pattern.
Once your 2D pattern is complete, click on the 2D pattern seams that you want to have stitched together.
Once the pattern seams that are to be stitched together are identified and marked, simply place (click place icon) the pattern pieces into the 3D window.
Stitching process is completed.
The Flattening Technology will be available for sale in V11.
The OptiTex multi-dimensional integrated product development application has developed a feature to enable the user to digitize styles directly onto the 3D virtual avatar/mannequin form. It is currently being tested in V10 and will be available to the public very soon.
Do you know what a digitizing table is? A digitizing table is a big flat table that you use to input your large pattern pieces into the computer. It’s kind of like a glorified scanner. In fact I have seen big drum scanners that people insert large pattern pieces or images into to input them into the computer.
Students carefully tape their basic pattern pieces onto the digitizing table then they use a mouse type tool to click the grain line, the notches, the darts and all around the perimeter of the pattern piece to input the points into to the computer. You click a specific code when you are done and voila – your pattern piece has been transfered into the patternmaking program on the computer. You are now ready to input grading/sizing rules and/or make styling modifications to your basic pattern.
Once the 2D flat pattern is in the computer patternmaking program the user is not really able to make freeform intuitive styling lines easily onto the 2D flat pattern.
As a computer flat pattern designer did you ever wish you make some changes to your 2D flat pattern by drawing/digitizing directly on to the 3D avatar/mannequin form – say maybe to visually add a graceful styling line to the neckline in real time and at the same time actually “see: where and how the line will appear on the sample size 3D avatar/mannequin form? Well now you can. This new 3D Digitizing OptiTex feature will empower the user to digitize lines directly on to the 3D virtual avatar/mannequin form and the pattern modifications on the 2D flat pattern will instantly be generated for you in real time. This is an amazing feature for creative pattern development.
Many computer pattern design programs have a function that will allow the user to “digitize” directly onto the 2D flat pattern piece, but up until now you were not able to digitize directly onto the 3D avatar/mannequin form and see the results in “real time” on the 2D flat pattern on a split screen.
Watch the video below to see how the user can simultaneously work in 2D and then 3D and back again to 2D. All pattern modifications are taking place in real time.
This 3D digitizing is currently in beta testing and will be available in V10 in 2008.
An innovative example of a strategic product development partnership that resulted from the parametric sizing technology between Siemens PLM Software, OptiTex and Bernina resulted in the new Bernina MyLabel product. The Bernina MyLabel product has the potential to transform the home sewing market.
[press release 28.01.2008 Siemens PLM Software Announces New Use Of D-Cubed 2D DCM In Garment Design Software Industry]
Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of Siemens Industry Sector and a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services, and OptiTex Limited of Israel, a leader in 2D and 3D CAD/CAM fashion and textile design software, today announced the use of the D Cubed™ 2D Dimensional Constraint Manager (2D DCM) parametric solver by OptiTex in the My Label application for home-based fashion designers. My Label is licensed by OptiTex to their partner Bernina International for shipping with Bernina’s sewing machines.
MyLabel is an innovative 3D FIT Technology product that was recently introduced to the home sewing industry. The concept behind MyLabel is very simple, “good fit is everything!” It is a response to the home sewers demand for the mass customization and personalization trend that is being met by creative linkages. The response to the introduction of this product has been exceptionally positive – apparently home sewers have been anxiously waiting for a good fit solution!
Is it a pattern making software? No it’s a “fit” application. There are about twenty classic garment pattern styles programmed into MyLabel. Accurate measurements are everything so Bernina has a MyLabel measurement kit and offers classes in how to take accurate measurements [if customers feel the need] at the Bernina franchises.
Once the user inputs in their personal measurements the 3D dress form avatar/mannequin morphs into a body size reflection of the user. There is a large fabric library to select fabrics or the user can scan in a fabric swatch of their own to view on the garment. The user has a wide choice of buttons, embroidery or machine stitches to select from in their custom MyLabel garment development. There is a limited pattern modification available for users to shorten, lengthen, widen and narrow existing styles.
Once the garment is completed the user can save, print or e-mail the customized 3D model to friends or post it on to a blog. The pattern can be printed tiled and then taped together or the user can take the file to a copy center and have it printed out on a wide scale printer. Step by step instructions are also available to be printed out for each pattern.
Here is a link to a blogger that actually purchased and is using the MyLabel application. She has feedback and images of several MyLabel custom projects.
Here is a link to the Bernina Gallery.
The MyLabel application has a free download trial version so you can see for yourself how it works if you are interested.
I got a kick out of reading this blog entry in the “Patterns, Fabric and Thread – Oh My.” blog. The entry is titled, “Hey looks, it’s me!,” is dated Sunday, November 18, 2007 when the writer first heard about the MyLabel product and downloaded the demo.
All I can say after observing the positive home sewer market response to using 3D virtual avatar/mannequins in Bernina MyLabel is that industry and education better respond to the rapid transformations taking place in technology as well or they will be either out of business or obsolete.
Previous OptiTex posts:
From a product development perspective, the dress form avatar/mannequin is the most important element in a creation of the garment, this is where the measurements are determined and the final look and feel helps determine whether the garment really fits or not. According to Yoram Burg, President of OptiTex, initially the market did not accept the virtual prototyping so openly only two years ago.
Modulate is a critical part of the OptiTex solution to developing accurate fit.
The application is a unique interactive, parametric, one of a kind, made-to-measure software engine. Each parametric style fits a particular set of dimensions that belong to specific people or represent particular manufacturing requirements. This enables brands to develop their own individual and customized set of sizing standards based on the targeted brand market user.
Dispite the advancements in technology, there still was initial skepticism with regards to avatars accurately reflecting real life (RL) measurements. OptiTex technology has come a long way since then and additional new technology developments as well as creative and strategic partnerships and/or linkages with companies, developers and educational institutions have made customers realize [and experience for themselves] that a well designed avatar/mannequin and a well designed multi-dimensional product for manufacture as well as marketing is something that is based on accurate information and the highest quality rendering/annimation/cloth engines.
The benefits of using 3D avatar/ mannequins for fashion product development are perfect fit, mass customization, cost effectiveness for design, development, prototyping and e-commerce marketing.
3D Customized Avatar/ Mannequins
A variety of well-designed accurate 3D avatar/ mannequins and customized accessories are continually being developed at Optitex. The company is actively seeking partnerships with makers of widely used industry forms to develop specialized plug-ins that will replicate avatar/ mannequins for well known industry forms such as Alvaform. [pictured below]
The 3D avatar/ mannequins currently under development have a wide range of body types and represent many age groups. The are fat and muscular controls [pictured above] as well as advanced posture controls [pictured below].
Individual companies can choose to develop their own customized set of avatar/ mannequins [based on their targeted brand customer] by having their fit models input their body scans into the OptiTex system. [example of body scan input pictured below]
Body scan data can be set to be linked into the OptiTex application.
Annimated FIT Technology
The OptiTex application will also be introducing animated FIT technology (above video) in V10 in 2008. This animated FIT technology enables the user to animate the custom sized avatar/ mannequin while wearing the custom designed garment and visually analyze the garment fit during wearer movements.
Other Optitex Posts: