Research Summary – Digital Product Creation Maturity in RFA

5 Key Insights

Digital product creation (DPC) leapt up the investment agenda for footwear and apparel brands in 2020, but how far has the industry progressed towards driving full scale adoption and business results from 3D and DPC? What are the implications for your digitization strategy and post-COVID recovery?

Since 2016, Kalypso has partnered with industry research groups and educational institutions to survey RFA organizations about their DPC journeys. For 2020, more than 40 brands’ and retailer’s opinions are included in the research results to create an aggregate picture of both the present and future of digital design and development.

Respondents ranked their organization’s current and future maturity in ​these areas on a 1-5 scale. ​

DPC Research Maturity Scale

They also indicated when they ​plan to invest in each use case and shared some of the primary barriers to scale and investment.

DPC Maturity Research
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Here are five key insights

Insight #1:
Companies are stuck in the proof-of-concept phase

Although the 2020 data shows a modest increase ​in current maturity across DPC use cases, very few companies are successfully scaling their capabilities beyond the proof-of-concept phase.

Per the numbers, on our 1-5 maturity scale:

  • Use cases in the Discover & Create category, like 3D product design and voice of customer analytics integration, had the highest average current maturity at a 2.43 on a scale of 1-5
  • Use cases in the Make category, like digital product development and virtual fit testing, averaged 2.21 for current maturity on a scale of 1-5
  • Use cases in the Sell category, like virtual showroom/store planning and virtual assortment reviews/line planning, averaged a 1.80 for current maturity on a scale of 1-5

Insight #2:
Lack of technical and operational foundations slow the ability to scale

The industry is uncertain about how to scale immediate wins into longer-term transformation, ​and in many cases lacks the technical and operational foundations needed for scale activities.

Insight #3:
Companies have big plans and high expectations for digital transformation

DPC Research Investment Areas

The data shows a significant increase in expected future maturity (where retailers and brands expect to be in two years) indicating big plans and high expectations.

Per the numbers, when asked where they will invest in the next two years:

  • 85% said digital product development
  • 78% said 3D product design
  • 78% said virtual fit testing
  • 71% said visual line planning

Insight #4:
COVID-19 sparked acceleration, but companies lack a clear and aligned strategy

Nearly all companies ​we surveyed believe ​that the pandemic has accelerated the need ​for digital transformation within design, development, ​and merchandising. ​

Yet while many say their strategies and directions have changed because of COVID, just over half say they have a clear and aligned strategy.

Per the numbers:

  • 93% believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation within design, development, and merchandising
  • 78% agree that Product Leaders have changed their digital transformation strategy because of COVID
  • Yet only 59% feel that they have a clearly defined strategy around future product-focused digital transformation initiatives

Insight #5:
Barriers to success are people-related, NOT technology-related

As retailers and brands become more mature, many find that process, culture, and talent are the most significant barriers to 3D DPC program success.

While in previous years, respondents told us their top barriers were related to justification and lack of executive sponsorship, the 2020 data tells us that:

  • 61% struggle to build the process and culture to embrace a virtual presentation or world of products
  • 44% lack the required digitally trained talent, like 3D designers, to develop the digital assets

Since DPC in apparel has the potential to be the most significant change in many people’s careers, there are many questions about the impact to training, roles, and responsibilities within end-to-end product teams today.

Download the full Executive Summary report

For more detail behind these numbers, along with leading practices to help overcome scaling challenges, download Kalypso’s 2020 Research Executive Summary, released in December of 2020.

2020 DPC Maturity Research
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