Much more than a 3D textile configurator, we created a place of collaboration for sales, clients and their clients.
BekaertDeslee is the market leader in the conception and production of mattress textiles and ready-made sleeping solutions. Originally from Belgium, they house an invaluable history giving them a unique advantage in the sleep sector. Years of expertise and product innovation placed them ahead of the game on a worldwide scale.
Years ago BekaertDeslee already knew they had to embrace digitization before it would take them by surprise. They needed a partner to help them explore the added value of digital way beyond marketing applications. They were looking at developing sales-supportive tools, stock-management optimization, smart product innovation, 3D visualization and improving internal collaboration. This broad pallet of questions required a versatile digital partner. We’re proud that since 2012 we’ve been that partner for BekaertDeslee (and previous DesleeClama).
The BekaertDeslee product range is very elaborate and for a wide variety of customer profiles. There are a lot of different fabric constructions, finishes and designs that are interrelated and strongly influenced by both the location and the specific application they need to serve. As a consequence providing tailored, error-free advice to the end customers can be a challenge. When we started our collab, the sales representatives of BekaertDeslee were still traveling the globe with their suitcases filled with (a small selection of) fabric samples, this proved challenging from a logistic and customer experience point of view. Another hurdle was the visualization. The BekaertDeslee textiles often function as a semi-finished product that needs to be imagined covering the mattress core of their clients. It required a lot of imagination from the customers’ side. A last challenge was the global presence of BekaertDeslee. While being a competitive advantage it did pose questions on how to keep all the representatives and designers informed, synced and up to date in a standardized way, while incorporating the cultural market differences.
Project 1: BD Cloud
What started as an idea to digitize their enormous collection of fabrics ended in the idea of an in-/external platform, focussing on sales support both B2B and B2B2C. In an agile and incremental way, we designed and developed a platform where designers, sales, clients and their clients can collaborate and feel supported in their daily tasks. What can you find on the platform? A 3D product configurator, showing high-end digital visualizations of all fabrics allowing users to tweak within product boundaries without the need for sample production. A collaboration module to co-create mattress concepts and build powerful offers for clients. A tool for designers to import their new creations from the PIM system and provide them with attractive visual assets and all meta-data… The BD Cloud is mere steps away from being a prime example of a fully integrated Industry 4.0 application, especially when connecting it with the production units.
Project 2: Designer tool
Since the core of BekaertDeslee’s product range consists of semi-manufactured goods, visualization was key in all the tools we developed for them. For the designers of each continent, we created an online 3D mattress-builder, allowing them to re-build the products of their clients and show them the BekaertDeslee fabrics applied very realistically. Everything from bed boxes, borders and headboards, to pillows, handles, and zippers can be used to build an attractive 3D copy of an existing product for the end customer. In close collaboration with the product developers, designers and clients of BekaertDeslee we made this tool as user-friendly and flexible as possible, making sure the output was so close to the real thing it would become a vital part of the design and sales process in the future.
Project 3: Add-ons & integration
As their trusted digital partner, we are always co-creating add-ons and elaborations for the core tools, trying to improve various processes, tackling every business unit at a time. We try to stay flexible, not letting the bigger picture hold us back and we deliver proofs-of-concept very fast. On the other side, the size and complexity of the company is a non-neglectable fact, so the long-term value and durability of digital solutions always need to be taken into account.
Our added value
After working together for so long we almost see ourselves as part of the company. We start to know all the ins and outs, the sector-specific challenges and we follow product innovations from close-by. In this relationship we play two distinct roles, the digital advisor and the product developer. Building a new product from scratch is not the standard answer to every question the client shares with us. We selflessly look for successful solutions together, helping out with the integration of other software packages they wish to work with.
We’ve learned a lot since the beginning of this collaboration and neither the client nor we are the same company we were all those years ago. Our knowledge of the textile industry and our skills in visualizing fabric have grown a lot thanks to this project. We see a lot of possibilities still in the domain of predictive maintenance on the production level and IoT applications like smart products when looking at fabrics from a consumer’s point of view. With this client, we’ve grown, failed, tried, laughed, stressed, freaked out, imagined and created awesome things together.