If you’re a fashion or apparel brand, you’ll agree that the fashion industry is fast-paced and ever-changing by nature. This makes it imperative for brands to constantly design new products, improve quality and keep up with the latest fashion trends.
The ‘fastest’ fast fashion brand in the industry Zara offers 24 new clothing collections each year, as per a 2016 McKinsey report. Meanwhile, arch-rival H&M releases 12 to 16 and refreshes them weekly.
As if this wasn’t fast enough, many brands have moved away from the traditional 2 to 4 annual seasonal lines to the ‘drop’ model. Everyone from Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton to Nike, Adidas and Supreme have experimented with the sales model. In fact, Supreme popularized the ‘product drop’ model in 2017 with its limited-edition releases of 5-15 new products every Thursday at a designated time window.
Fashion brands cannot survive without digital transformation
Agility is crucial when you’re trying to stand out in such a crowded and rapidly moving market. Technology might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the fashion industry, but it is certainly one tool that could revolutionize this industry as much as in any other.
As a brand, you need to stay creative, manage a complex supply chain and deliver products at breakneck speed. Realizing your full capacity for agility is only a matter of implementing the right information technology.
A fashion PLM system allows you to manage an efficient and transparent idea flow, helps keep your costs in check, and provides sufficient documentation under one roof. At its core, PLM software helps increase your agility and allows you to make the most of your current resources.
Is it worth investing in? For fashion brands to achieve success, you need an equal mix of creativity and discipline. This is where PLM software can really make a difference. This article describes some of the benefits that fashion brands can expect with this software.
Key advantages of using end-to-end fashion PLM software
Here are 8 advantages of using a Product Lifecycle Management software (especially one made with fashion brands and manufacturers in mind)
1) Central hub of inspiration
PLM gives you a centralized space to brainstorm design ideas. So, too many cooks will never spoil this broth. No image or detail on the inspiration board will ever get lost. New ideas will be more likely to be discovered, shared and implemented if they’re visible to everyone working on a particular project. It gives everyone a chance to contribute to the creative process, no matter where they are.
You can store all ideas, styles, prints, embroidery, and other images in one place; tag them for easy search access and use attributes to find designs that match your ideas.
This makes it easy for new employees to catch up quickly on what has been done so far and prevents many types of errors that occur when using physical, paper-based documents.
2) Ever-growing resource library
Libraries are not just for books! Your brand’s material and resource library can be populated with details about fabric options, trims, buttons, zippers. Build your library on the PLM system with all components relevant to your product development process. You can manage your core, new and seasonal carryover product data with ease.
Having every little detail organized in one search-friendly place will make the design process much easier.
This means your entire team is working off the same information. It is stored in a central database, instead of being scattered around multiple computer systems. What’s more, this library will keep growing as you keep creating more collections.
3) Transparent product tracking
By increasing visibility and transparency, fashion PLM software can help remove one of the largest stumbling blocks many businesses face when launching new products – lack of collaboration throughout the supply chain.
Using product lifecycle trackers makes it easier for everyone to know the status of each product. Teams and managers can spot hiccups in the supply chain before it’s too late. This will prevent cost overruns and missed deadlines.
Your team will spend less time looking for information (and arguing about why it doesn’t exist) and more time working together on new ideas and products.
4) Elimination of duplication
With everyone working on a PLM platform, there is no chance of duplication because every member can see what tasks have already been done and what is under progress. Information like product specifications and other details have to only be added once and can be easily extracted wherever needed.
Managers can see what the team is doing in real-time so there’s no need to manually ask for a progress report or hold meetings for the same thing.
If a problem arises or for any reason a team member cannot perform their duties, their supervisor can assign it to someone else without reviewing every task they have done. This makes the workflow smoother for everyone.
5) Streamlined sample inspections
Quality is the name of the game when it comes to developing any product. With PLM, you can easily request samples for inspection with just a single click. Select your inspection agent and set quality parameters for testing on the platform.
You can give feedback without ever having to open your email. Include comments, annotated images, with exact errors, and revised measurements. This facilitates more clarity for your vendors, reduces sample iterations and lead times.
If you want to know who reviewed a particular drawing or requested a change, you can check the inspection reports at any time. You can even use this information to determine how long the sample approval process took.
6) Error-free vendor communication
Why is it important for fashion brands to use fashion/apparel PLM software? A Fashion PLM is built keeping in mind the unique needs of fashion brands and their manufacturers or suppliers. It enables easier communication between both these parties on a shared platform.
A PLM which cannot be accessed by your vendor does a half-baked job of streamlining the production process. With a vendor portal, you can give access for all necessary product information to your vendor.
As a brand, you have the freedom to share exactly what you want. The vendor can update production status, share sample images and more on the platform itself. They can access feedback whenever they want. This reduces the chances of a vendor picking up the wrong file version from some endless email trail.
7) Keep up with compliance management
The pressure on fashion companies to meet the increasing number of compliance rules and standards is high. Every merchandise needs to match the required standards. This is especially difficult when you have a wide variety of offerings, from handbags to shoes to sunglasses and so on.
Fashion PLM software makes it easy for brands to track compliance standards and make requirement lists for vendors. You can request audits on the platform so that auditors don’t have to spend too much time on data entry since all information related to a particular project is stored in one place.
There’s also no need for auditors to search through emails or hard copies of documents. This minimizes the possibility of human error and increases efficiency.
8) Data-informed decision making
Being able to get real-time analytics about the product development cycle is one of the biggest advantages of fashion PLM software. This helps you get insight into when certain decisions were made or problems occurred during production. The main advantage is that it helps you make corrections faster than you would otherwise be able to.
It gives you real-time data to track how long a production line will take and where things are getting held up. You can also work out what each stage of the process will cost, which helps you stay within your budget or make required adjustments.
9) Shorter lead times, higher product quality
Truly high-quality products don’t just happen by accident. Quality needs to be built into every product, and a PLM system can help your company identify opportunities for quality improvements throughout the product lifecycle.
From the inspiration and design concept to the final development, PLM software streamlines every step of a product’s cycle of production. With a centralized and transparent workflow, your team can collaborate better to mitigate issues before they escalate. This means you can consistently create high-quality products and make them quicker.
The fashion industry is an incredibly competitive industry, and it doesn’t offer a whole lot of room for mistakes. In a world where trends are created and destroyed on the regular, an apparel brand needs to be fast, smart, and efficient when it comes down to getting products out of their studio and into the hands of customers.
That kind of speed requires employing a system that’s up to the challenge—a PLM designed specifically with the fashion industry in mind. When you take all that into consideration, PLM seems like a no-brainer.
Do you want to lower your lead times, minimize costs, increase productivity and make more profit from your current product line? The WFX PLM can help!
Learn how our Fashion PLM, designed specifically for the fashion industry, helps fashion brands improve inter-team collaboration, vendor communication, quality management, data-driven strategies and much more.
Sign up for a WFX PLM demo today to find out more!