Insights on Emerging Visual Technologies for Supply Chains

Embracing the integration of these technologies demands a strategic vision, a readiness to embrace change and a keen understanding of the evolving market dynamics.

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Data from Statista cites that the 3D modeling industry is forecast to surpass 11 billion dollars by 2026.  Focusing on the adaptive nature of supply chains in response to changing consumer preferences, immersive technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and 3D modeling can help supply and demand executives make more informed decisions, cut down on wasted products, and streamline processes. Virtual try-on and 3D product customization enable more responsive and flexible supply chain models, improve sustainability initiatives and articulate smarter buying decisions for suppliers. As we enter further into 2024, the introduction of the new Apple headset for example, brings these technologies into the mainstream.

Bridging the Gap Between Supply and Demand, the Benefits of 3D

In a dynamic market where consumer preferences continually evolve and competition is fierce, ensuring a precise alignment between supply and demand is paramount. The consequences of misalignments, often resulting in overproduction and subsequent waste, pose significant challenges for retailers and suppliers attempting to gauge product demand accurately. However, the integration of emerging visual technologies presents executives with unique opportunities to comprehend customer preferences in real-time, offering a comprehensive perspective of the entire product lifecycle, spanning from design to delivery.

The integration of 3D technology into retail processes not only enables merchants to enhance operational efficiency but also brings about significant sustainability benefits. Through real-time customization and visualization, businesses can generate precise consumer forecasts, reducing excess inventory and minimizing waste. This strategic use of 3D not only keeps companies agile in responding to changing consumer trends but also addresses environmental concerns associated with overproduction. By creating fewer physical samples and producing only what customers truly want, businesses adopting 3D technology contribute to a more sustainable and cost-effective approach in the modern market.

The Opportunity for More Informed Decisions Offered by AR and 3D Modeling

Data from Insider Intelligence referenced by Forbes shows by 2026, the e-commerce market is expected to total over $8.1 trillion. The journey from initial product conceptualization to a consumer’s hands is fraught with decisions that can make or break the success of a product. AR and 3D modeling can help executives to shift this process to be more informed and thoughtful. These technologies provide an immersive experience, allowing executives to visualize the end product in real-time. They can then make decisions like fine tuning an initial product’s design. This capability is not just about aesthetics; it's about understanding how a product functions, feels and fits into the consumer's life.

Furthermore, the integration of try-on technology enhances this transformative journey in product development, fostering a more sustainable and efficient approach. By enabling consumers to virtually experience products before making a purchase, executives not only gain valuable insights into customer preferences but also significantly reduce the likelihood of costly returns. This innovative feature contributes to a more consumer-centric decision-making process, ensuring that the final product aligns seamlessly with the expectations and needs of the target audience. The synergy of Augmented Reality (AR), 3D modeling, and try-on technologies positions executives at the forefront of a dynamic e-commerce landscape, where informed decisions, reduced returns, and enhanced consumer experiences converge to drive success.

Data from the World Economic Forum suggests that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions. The traditional purchasing process, particularly for fashion brands boasting an extensive array of products and a myriad of variations for each, typically involves the company manufacturing a diverse range of items. In this model, consumers interact with, try on, and purchase these products, inevitably leading to a surplus of samples in stock and a high amount of waste.

Contrastingly, the advent of the 3D catalog and the ensuing revolution in the industry has inverted this process. Instead of physically producing items for display, the company showcases all products and their variations digitally, obviating the need for costly samples and elaborate photoshoots. Within this innovative framework, customers can peruse the virtual catalog, select their desired product, and even tailor it to their preferences. Subsequently, the company produces only the specific product requested. This "reverse" approach ensures a 100% sell-out rate and minimizes waste. This approach not only streamlines the processes but also significantly cuts down on wasted product, contributing to cost reduction and more environmentally conscious operations.

Looking Ahead -  ‘Futuristic’ Technologies as a Present Day Reality

The integration of emerging visual technologies in supply chain management is not a futuristic concept; it’s a present-day reality. The data speaks volumes: the AR and VR market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 10.77%, resulting in a projected market volume of $58.1bn by 2028. As supply and demand executives look to stay ahead of the curve, the focus should be on embracing these technologies, understanding their potential and being open to how new tools like these can transform their supply chain operations.

Embracing the integration of these technologies demands a strategic vision, a readiness to embrace change and a keen understanding of the evolving market dynamics. Now is the opportune moment for companies to seize a real competitive advantage by recognizing and harnessing the power of AR, 3D modeling, and other emerging visual technologies. In a fiercely competitive market where standing out is crucial and opportunities are scarce, waiting for widespread adoption is not an option. The companies that act now, leveraging these technologies to provide customers with superior experiences, will not only survive but thrive. This proactive approach sets new standards for efficiency, customer satisfaction and contributes to a relentless drive towards a more sustainable future.