Chris Hillyer of Deckers Brands (Best known for Ugg) did a presentation at 3DExciteLive about innovation in the 3D space so I asked him to share a bit with the community about how 3D is impacting customer experience.
Chris said that Ugg’s systems have been antiquated in the past. They built products, shipped them off, and put them in sales rooms. But their customers don’t start talking about the shoes until they see them in the stores. So being able to virtually build them and give a visualization of what they are allows customers to engage with these new products long before they even exist. Ugg can get feedback, collaboration and hype.
I asked Chris how they are using community and their brand advocates to power design and development of new products. He said it’s really about the future. Customers can have an opinion, have a say and impact future product.
I asked what industries other than shoes Chris thought might be disrupted by 3D in the near future. His answer was that 3D printing is going to be a game changer. And tools are all coming together and the future will be interesting in how we use them together in ways we never have before.
Will kids be able to design their own shoes in the future? Chris said absolutely. Material development with 3D printing is mind blowing. Companies are making headsets that fit your ears exactly using scanning technology and printing, for instance. None of this will slow down. The idea of a fully customized pair of shoes is new. We’ve never had this but it’s on the horizon now.
Chris said that people are going to really start to discover that things can be built uniquely for them. He will be interested to see how brands navigate this change, even though he predicts it’s still a little ways off. It’s approaching our doorstep.
I spoke with Rob Schettler, CEO of 3DExcite, who said that we live in an experience economy. Customers just don’t want to buy products anymore – they want to buy experiences. At the 3DExciteLive event we’ve seen experience through 3D technology. He thinks marketing and sales are seeing a dramatic shift toward a new way of selling. This applies both online and offline.
Rob said that soon if a store doesn’t have a product the customer wants, there will be an easy way to choose another, possibly even better suited product through 3D technology and visualization. Products will soon be fully customized. When we buy cars we won’t just choose option groups anymore, we’ll be able to choose every single detail one by one.
I interviewed Dave Kepron, who gave a great presentation covering neurology, science, customer journey data and analytics. David’s background is in architecture, consulting and design among other things. He has also written a fascinating book titled, “Retail (r)Evolution.”
I asked David where he sees design and science intersecting in the future to form a new type of buyer’s journey. He said, “If we look at the key pieces that are coming together, the key driver to that is always going to be experience at an interpersonal level.” We naturally want to get together with other people and technology is facilitating that in new ways.
The store isn’t dead and, in fact, the Omni-channel journey is very much alive. But technology is changing the world and 3D is a big part of that. I asked David how 3D technology, specifically, is impacting the customer journey. He said that we live in a 3D world and that’s the inherent challenge in working through any customer interface, regardless of form factor. But people like being in three dimensional places and even to be able to visualize things that way is amazing. Often things that don’t make sense in a two dimensional format are easily consumed and understood when presented in 3D. 3D improves the representation of materials and textures as it makes things more interesting and lifelike. Soon you’ll be able to touch your screen and actually feel things.
As we were talking live on Periscope, one of the viewers asked if beacon technology has a role in the survival of stores in the future. David said beacons are great. They’re a way to connect customers in real time, empower them to make buying decisions and engage them in relationships. But beacons are not a substitute for knowledgeable sales associates and good in-store customer service.
David talks a lot about “customers that play” and “places, not spaces” so I asked him to touch on the role of play in the mind of the buyer and how brands should push their customers to play more as they’re creating that journey together. David pointed out that “There is a differentiation to be made between the play we did as kids where we made amazing vehicles out of the empty cardboard boxes that the refrigerator came in…..versus the play that is… more like context… I don’t mean playing sports…. Playing is one of the most profound ways to understand empathy. In the engaging activity of play I am both villain and hero at the same time. We change roles and I definitively put myself in the shoes of the other guy. And that’s amazing for retailers because they’ve got to understand that emotional connection with customers and the ability to get out of their own world and get into [the customers’] worlds ….see from their customers’ eyes… Ironically, despite the fact that we all love play and that shopping and play are almost synonymous… most of the environments we go in to shop are the farthest thing from being playful….” David says store environments can be frustrating and difficult to navigate. Embracing play will allow customers to make the brand narrative their own and create their own part of the story line and environment.
Customer experience is in the mind, not the physical space. David said this does include the physical experience and what’s on your shelves but it’s not wholly about those things. “Experience happens as an intricate and intimate experience between my brain and the environment. My brain makes experience and the environment physically, literally, makes my brain… “ He said we need to know, at least on a cursory level, what’s going on inside people’s heads. This can change the way you “play” with space and merchandize assortments and so on. We shouldn’t do things that we think have impact but instead we should tap into things that are key drivers to experience such as play and emotion.