Marks & Spencer Enters a Collaboration to Enhance Digital Product Development

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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UK retailer Marks & Spencer has entered a collaboration with First Insight  and Optitex to enhnace digital product development capabilities.

Marks & Spencer is now able to leverage the combination of First Insight’s digital product testing solution and Optitex’s 3D computer-aided design (CAD) software to better understand their customer, increase speed to market, support digital workflows, create sustainable sampling processes and reduce waste.

“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.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated and expedited a shift from high-touch to low-touch across every aspect of retail, including the product development process,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight. “Our partnership with Optitex allows retailers like Marks & Spencer to digitize their product development cycle, which eliminates the need to create and traffic physical samples, host showroom visits and conduct in-store product testing—all of which are crucial capabilities not only during the Coronavirus outbreak, but also for long-term sustainability and efficiency.”

Marks & Spencer has already been leveraging First Insight’s consumer-driven predictive analytics software solution to make design, buying and pricing decisions across categories that include apparel, lingerie, footwear, accessories, food, home and beauty. The platform has enabled the British multinational retailer to test tens of thousands of products across more than 50 departments and use that information to shape collections and assortments that meet customers’ desires and to offer those items at the right prices.

The retailer achieved successful results from new product testing using the First Insight solution and Optitex 2D CAD technology. Based on that success, Marks & Spencer has begun using 3D CAD visualizations in its product testing for a number of departments. The 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. Incorporating digital solutions can reduce lead time from 24 weeks to 3 weeks for retailers, allowing them to increase their speed-to-market and their margins.

“We’re pleased to be integrating our technology with the First Insight platform to help Marks & Spencer and other companies achieve digital transformation,” said Amit Ben-Sheffer, VP of Products at Optitex. “In the product development process, 3D CAD images provide a more realistic visualization of how a finished product will look, which means the feedback consumers provide through First Insight’s platform is more reliable and useful. It also reduces the need for physical samples and enables virtual line planning and virtual fit testing.”