Designing and developing products customers love is a goal for every retailer. It’s how you build brand reputation, acquire new customers, and keep the old ones coming back. Consumer demand can change from season to season, though, and market flops are costly. Going to market can be risky business if you’re not aligned with what’s trending.

Fortunately, today’s brands and retailers can put products to the test with real people in the target demo to fortify their innovations through ideation up to pre-launch. There are three ways that pre-market product testing will improve your PLM process.

1.  Validate new concepts with customer input

How many potentially successful new concepts get created behind the scenes without ever seeing the light of day? Or worse, how many go to market only to result in backlash and embarrassment for the brand?

First impressions are important in retail. Pre-market customer input ensures that you get them right. Concept testing with a sample of your intended customer base allows you to validate your newest concepts by aligning the earliest stages of product development with your customers’ tastes. This gives you the insight and confidence needed to prioritize which product concepts to develop and then begin the sourcing process.

2.  Minimize product returns with fit testing

Once you have a tangible product, you should test how well it fits within a range of different sizes. Items that fit well lead to brand loyalty, whereas poor fits result in returns and frustrated customers.

Pre-market fit testing with dedicated fit models or even a sample of real customers provides you with the actionable feedback needed to make key adjustments to measurements and grading in your Retail PLM solution. This kind of quality assurance is important to deliver a high level of customer satisfaction, and doesn’t delay launching if done efficiently.

3.  Identify product performance issues before launch

Much like fit testing, pre-market product testing gives you the opportunity to identify performance issues and improvement opportunities so you can make changes in your PLM system before any brand damage is done.

With access to an expansive community of product testers, you can distribute prototypes of your product to your target customer base and obtain real-time product feedback, right down to the activity they’re doing while wearing the item. Find out if those sweat-wicking shorts are doing their job by giving them to a group of track runners, or if those dress shoes wear down too quickly due to the leather that was chosen. You can bring this data into your PLM tool and then adjust accordingly.

Integrating product testing data with your PLM solution

The best way to activate pre-market product testing data is by integrating it with your PLM system. From research and ideation all the way to product launch, insights from pre-market product testing are invaluable to the product development process. After all, your customers know best. Are you listening to them?

Interested in learning more about PLM solutions that can integrate pre-market product testing data? Download this eBook from PTC to gain product testing insights from leading retail brands.