Merchandising & Retail Buying

Meet the new Digital Line Review: better decisions, fewer meetings

Team MakerSights

August 26, 2020

Everything in our world has changed. Why shouldn't how we work change too?

We've always been motivated by helping our brand partners optimize their assortments and create products their consumers love. And while we firmly believe that consumer voice is a critical input into the decision making process for modern brands, it's just that — an input. What about how those decisions are actually made?

The innovation we’ve seen over the last 10 years in marketing and CX technology has left the process of actually bringing products to market behind. Product and Merchandising teams make inventory bets of more than $1 trillion each year relying on complicated email threads, massive spreadsheets, and months of meetings without new tools to support them. From design to investment planning to sales, each phase largely operates in a silo with often contentious hand-offs from one team to the next. These protracted planning cycles burden teams with unnecessary overhead, and inconclusive data hinders their creative intuition instead of helping.

Beyond the painful internal inefficiencies, the need for industry change is evident. Millions of dollars are wasted on products that never see the light of day, and miscalculations about what will sell contribute to the 21 billion pounds of clothing sent to US landfills every year. The dire consequences become clear as more brands announce store closures and slowing sales, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

With the disruption caused by COVID-19, brands have an unexpected chance to break down the status quo workflows that have been around for decades. It's a unique opportunity to craft new ways of working that help their teams stay aligned and move faster — even when they're suddenly scattered around the world working from home.

When the pandemic began, the first thing we asked our brand partners was how we can help. And we heard you loud and clear: transitioning product line reviews from lengthy in-person meetings with physical samples to a remote-friendly format was urgently required. So we've spent the last several months working on just that.

Consider this our next step toward helping retail teams work more efficiently and effectively as they create, plan, and ultimately distribute products in the market. We're excited to tackle this challenge together.

Introducing Digital Line Review

Think of Digital Line Review (DLR) as a virtual workspace for assortment decisions. Instead of product printouts and physical samples, your teams can digitally map out the assortment along the dimensions that matter and easily share quantitative and qualitative feedback. Users get a comprehensive look at 3D renderings of the assortment, internal feedback from regional merchants and sales teams, and voice of consumer results in one place to address questions, challenges, and roadblocks faster.

Explore the assortment and centralize feedback in one place

Whether working remotely or simply streamlining in-person meeting time, DLR shifts collaboration online to help brands save time and money on costly global meetings. The bigger upside? With a centralized workspace for the assortment, democratizing access to internal and voice of consumer data is simple, and decision making becomes more transparent by default.

Instead of "big reveals" from one siloed phase of the product-to-market process to the next, stakeholders across the organization — product, merchandising, marketing, sales, and even executives — can provide feedback at any stage early enough to be actionable.

Simulate physical samples with 3D imagery
Staying nimble to stay ahead

As COVID-19 catalyzes chaos across the retail industry, Digital Line Review directly supports brands who have had to shift to remote work almost overnight.

One such brand? Long-time MakerSights partner HOKA ONE ONE. Since its founding, HOKA has relied on a unique combination of bold innovation and consumer-driven decision making to become the fastest growing running brand in the world. But the COVID-19 shutdown and sudden shift to remote work across their global business was a hurdle no one could have seen coming.

Suddenly, the in-person meetings typically used for line reviews needed to shift to remote workflows to keep product lines for upcoming seasons moving forward. HOKA turned to MakerSights’ Digital Line Review solution to unlock collaboration for their teams and continue to put their consumer first in every decision.

“COVID-19 has undoubtedly disrupted our usual review meetings process, but it's also provided us an opportunity to refine them to be more collaborative, efficient, and interactive,” said Gretchen Weimer, Global Vice President of Product, HOKA ONE ONE. "MakerSights’ Digital Line Review has drastically improved the dialogue between regions and made it more dynamic and transparent."

This type of collaboration is now central to our team and makes it easier than ever to deliver premier products that will resonate with our customers’ needs and lifestyles.

The path forward starts with agility

While we hope most years won't bring such significant changes in consumer behavior, the need to be dynamic and adaptable has never been clearer. A relentless focus on iterative feedback — from both internal teams and muse consumers — is essential to course correcting against a shift in strategy, trends, or market conditions. Even as budgets tighten, brands that don't prioritize bold new approaches to internal collaboration and external market agility are destined to pay the price.

The good news? We're here to help. Digital Line Review is available in the MakerSights platform today, and we’re excited to work with our innovative brand partners to build a more efficient, collaborative, and ultimately more sustainable way of working together. Reach out to our team to learn more.

Team MakerSights

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