Bamboo Rose Blog | Retail Co-creation

Co-Creation: What is it and How Does it Work?

When searching for new products, customers want value: they want high-quality options, but don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount of money. Due to the onset of promotion-heavy retail environments and rising influence of off-price retailers – Nordstrom Rack, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks off Fifth, TJ Maxx and Marshalls – Fung Global Retail research shows consumers are only willing to pay up to 76 percent of a products’ price.

Resisting full price is very telling of the retail landscape we operate in today. With more product and service options available to consumers, retailers need to create products that stand out and quickly get them on shelves. Consumers are looking for unique, innovative and high-quality products at the right price point for their budgets. By maintaining quality and selling a product at an attractive price, retailers will have the ability to capture new market share and thrive. To successfully master this art, teams need a strategy that taps into the entire retail community and leverages the experience, expertise, and creativity of the people – designers, buyers, suppliers – they work with every day.

At Bamboo Rose, we believe co-creation is the key for successfully developing products consumers want to buy and thriving in the New Retail Economy. Retailers have diverse communities they can work with to get inspired and drive innovative products to market more efficiently. For those not familiar with the concept of co-creation, or are interested in a refresher, we’ve answered some key questions.


What is co-creation? How do you define it and how is it different than the way things are done today?

The typical approach to designing product is that the designers work through the various big ideas agreed upon internally, create story or mood boards which are shared with their merchants and buyers and then proceed to develop the design which results in a detailed tech pack which is sent to the supplier for quoting purposes.  Time to finalized tech pack ranges from 15 to 60 days.  Co-creation ditches the traditional product development model and instead encourages the sharing of ideas before the product is defined similarly to the way consumers share on social media platforms before they make a buy decision.

When retailers co-create, they crowdsource inspiration, which helps them stay on top of trends and create innovative products with help from the entire retail community – including partners, suppliers, designers, agents, mills and more.


How does co-creation work?

Imagine a retailer’s apparel designer is inspired by the autumn leaves that have just changed color, so she snaps a photo and shares it as an idea for the next blouse design. Her colleagues offer insight: bright reds, oranges and yellows are spot on for the color palate that’s currently in season. The fit should be flowy to flatter most body types, and the shirt should have bell sleeves and a lace-up neckline to meet market demand.

At the same time, suppliers weigh in and offer their take on which fabrics would work best to ensure quality: a firmer fabric works better for bell-sleeved shirts to maintain the integrity of the curves, and a certain style of yarn will keep the laces from fraying at the ends. They also explain how these different material options will impact the overall cost. Ultimately, the retailer is left with a unique design that is on trend, high quality and priced at a point consumers will be comfortable with.


Who benefits from it?

Everyone. Per the definition of co-creation, everyone involved – retailers, designers, brands, partners, suppliers, mills, agents, customers, etc. – benefits from the co-creation experience. Each party has the opportunity to tap into expertise, experience, and knowledge they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to if they worked within a silo.


What business benefits can be derived? Why is this so important?

Co-creating opens teams up for broad ideas and inspiration sharing and involves a multitude of stakeholders right from the start of the development process. The overall business benefits of this approach are widespread. The design-to-delivery window is dramatically shortened by speeding the timeline between inspiration to product in market, which leads to big money and time savings. In addition, by being better equipped to stay on top of trends, retailers make more profitable operating decisions and create better products, which positions them to capture more sales and grow their business.

It’s a model that not only works for consumers, who get a product they actually want to buy, but it also allows retailers to bring a bit of passion and excitement back into the creative process, which is likely why they got into the business to begin with.


How do I begin?

Success starts with changing your mindset, ditching the traditional model of using spreadsheets, USB drives, PowerPoints and word documents, to a visual, connected and highly social process of designing, developing and delivering products.

The cold, hard truth is that the way we have historically created and shopped for products in the B2B space hasn’t been fast enough to support the new ways that consumers discover and buy them. That disconnect needs to change for teams to thrive in today’s retail environment. To learn more about co-creation and how to get started, please read our new whitepaper: The B2B Retail Revolution: Rethinking How Brands Create and Shop for Products.