Betabrand, a company which uses crowdsourced product ideas and 3D technology to create limited-availability clothing lines, announced it now has the capability to design and prepare pre-sale products like shoes in five days or less, rather than the typical 18-month process, accord to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The Betabrand press release explained that the accelerated process starts with a series of online consumer polls. The company then uses 3D rendering technology to quickly develop products and related content based on the consumer opinions expressed in the polls.
The new process, which the company has been testing and honing since last year, is currently being used to create a new model of women's dress shoe that Betabrand said will be available for pre-sale online by tomorrow, the press release stated.
Since sometime last year, Betabrand has been working to perfect its new process with Hong Kong-based manufacturer Li & Fung. Together, the companies tested four-week development cycles for new footwear and bag designs, eventually creating 20 new products that led to more than 30,000 pre-sales. Now, it's ready to develop poll opinions into new products in four to five days.
We have already seen a number of examples of how 3D rendering and related technologies have been used to power augmented reality mobile apps. Though 3D rendering is key to Betabrand's ability to create ultra-realistic — and therefore very marketable — product content, just as important is how the company is using crowdsourcing to turn traditional notions about product development, design and market testing upside down.
Betabrand (last seen as the firm behind Bill Murray's bell bottom golf pants) is not the first retail sector company to understand that moving products more quickly from the design phase to ready-for-purchase is a good thing. The whole fast fashion segment was built around that idea, and retailers like ASOS and Forever 21 have run with it to great success.
Like many retail segments, fast fashion retailers have begun to invest more in e-commerce efforts and technology in an attempt to rise above their competitors. Betabrand has carved out its own path in that direction, having figured out a model in which it can quickly prepare new product concepts for sale, and be confident in their market appeal because the ideas were molded by a community of consumers that wants to see them come to fruition.
Several footwear brands have already dabbled with the concept of customized footwear, using personal fit scanning technology and 3D printing for manufacturing, and Amazon may still have cards to play after acquiring 3D body-scanning technology company Body Labs.