Case StudyHow Orchids 3D web platform delivered game-changing results for global fashion firm
4 min read
That’s the assessment of Malik Jeffrey, general manager for technical services and R&D for global fashion solution firm Norlanka.
In a pilot project, the company used Embodee’s Orchids web platform and achieved a range of benefits in creating and merchandising apparel products in 3D. They included:
- More speed, lower cost, and greater volume.
- Increased capacity by shifting from 3D technical experts to designers who hadn’t worked in 3D the tasks of changing colors, prints, and graphics.
- For a presentation to a potential buyer, two designers with little training created 250 designs — all online and in 3D — in two days instead of ten. No physical samples were required because the product renders were so vivid.
What led Norlanka to test Orchids in the pilot, beginning in April 2021 when the platform was in beta? How did the pilot achieve remarkable results? This case study answers the questions and explains why the company is expanding its use of the Orchids platform since it commercially launched in March 2022
Norlanka, based in Sri Lanka, designs, makes, and markets products across adult and kidswear categories. It sells to most major retailers in the United Kingdom, as well as others in Europe, the United States, and Latin America.
When the pandemic suddenly upended merchandising and other fashion industry operations in 2020, Norlanka found itself not immune from the crisis but better positioned than many companies. It was still able to market some new products d— those created in 3D. The firm began transitioning to 3D in 2018.
Before the pandemic, Norlanka had tried to persuade wholesale buyers to begin reviewing 3D renderings rather than physical samples to make purchase decisions. After all, making and shipping the samples is time-consuming and expensive. But the buyers balked at changing the longstanding industry practice. That changed during The Great Disruption — they had no choice and started inspecting 3D product renderings virtually.
Though Norlanka’s 3D renderings were black and white and lacked interactive features, they were compelling enough in 2020 to work as virtual merchandising samples. The evidence? In four months Norlanka reduced by 400 the number of physical samples typically needed.
With that success, the company saw a bigger opportunity with 3D. But while demand had increased, obstacles loomed. Norlanka’s three 3D experts were overburdened. Instead of focusing on the highly technical work of developing new 3D models, they were also changing colors, prints, and graphics for existing models. It was a capacity problem.
Then, the Orchids platform entered the picture. What Norlanka officials initially learned about its features “just blew us away,” said Ellie Kilbey, head of product development for kidswear.
Embodee’s pitch to Norlanka boiled down to this: the online platform makes it easy to create products in vivid 3D. Simple to use — anywhere, anytime, the platform requires little training and no specialized 3D skills, complex software, or powerful computing.
Norlanka set out to test the claims with the pilot project.
Orchids vs. the capacity problem
At a high level, the platform helps companies leverage their 3D investments to achieve greater volume and speed by giving them a new way to collaborate and communicate.
Working with existing 3D models and standards, Orchids users apply materials and different colors from digital libraries with only a few mouse clicks. Uploaded prints and graphics are easily positioned and scaled. Variants are created in seconds.
Orchids is also a centralized virtual place where designs are stored, revised, and ultimately approved for digital and physical use. Throughout the process, the vividly detailed and interactive 3D color renderings are shared via links emailed or texted to colleagues, partners, and vendors.
After meeting with Embodee vice presidents Ben Sosinksi (product) and Yoram Burg (sales), Norlanka joined the Orchids platform’s early access group of companies beta testing it.
“We felt like the platform was kind of being tailored to what we required,” Kilbey said. “It was fantastic to see all of our feedback being taken notice of. Then every release just made it easier and easier to use.”
The pilot tested whether the platform could make a significant dent in freeing up Norlanka’s 3D experts and enable designers to apply different colors, graphics, and prints to 3D models.
Would the test confirm Kilbey’s enthusiasm and her colleagues’ growing belief that the platform could revolutionize aspects of their work?
The proof came when those two designers with little training achieved something remarkable. Working online, they created those 250 designs in 3D in two days. Without Orchids, it would have taken ten days. The daily output was 125 compared to 25. That’s a 5-fold improvement.
In other words, the web platform, which complements and meshes seamlessly with the industry’s 3D authoring systems, enabled Norlanka to achieve greater volume and speed without using 3D technical experts to finish designs.
Jeffrey said Norlanka is now able to create and sell designs for core product lines without the involvement of the 3D technical team. It’s also submitting only single physical samples — “gold seal” ones in his words — but at the end of production.
This optimizing of resources, he said, is “a huge win.”