Merchandising process where the merchandiser seeks for the approval of style, colour, fabric, size, trims, etc. involves a huge amount of time, people and information. There are number of people and departments involved in it, who are responsible for different operations in the whole process. It also has huge exchange of data and information that is sent through the whole process. Making these conversations via emails is a cumbersome process as there are long threads that have to be checked in case any old information is required. Moreover, the traditional approach to the job is an old thing now; today, the technology has transformed the whole idea of the merchandiser’s responsibilities. Technology like virtual prototyping was introduced in the industry long back and the use of this tool helps save related resources involved in the sample making process.
However, the increasing complexities, reducing lead times and demand of transparency, needed more sophisticated systems that replicated to these needs. Cloud technology is the most accurate solution for this new need of the buyers and manufacturers. These systems create an environment where the whole information is centralised and available to each and everyone involved in the team. Any changes made in the system will be available to all, the users can update the information about the process and this information will be available to each involved throughout the process. Moreover, the system can be operated on a mobile phone or tablets which makes it more user-friendly.
Today the manufacturers are more aware and up to date with the new technology trends and this, in turn, has created a huge demand among customers in the market. This unprecedented demand has made it mandatory for the technology suppliers to come up with the solutions imbibed with cloud-based system. A lot of leading industry players have already launched few innovative solutions that are assisting manufacturers reform their merchandising process to a better extent.
Prominent Solutions Available in the Market
TUKA3D and TUKAcloud by Tukatech
Tukatech has been giving solutions that meet the technological needs of manufacturers since the year 1995. The company’s effort to always be up to date with the present market needs is helping the apparel industry with technologies that can completely wipe off the bottlenecks in achieving higher efficiency and productivity.
TUKA3D, offered by Tukatech, is a virtual product development tool that creates realistic and digital collection of apparels, eliminating the need for multiple iterations of physical samples. Using the tool, the merchandisers can make virtual samples on the avatars, customise virtual avatars, perform the real time motion simulations, for a realistic view of the fit and look of the samples.
Its extensive library of fabrics allows better visualisation of garments with fabric properties that replicate the actual fabrics. Realistic simulations with pleats, textures, transparency, etc. all assist in building a real visualisation effect of the sample. “A physical sample takes around 15-20 days of time to get the response from the buyer. TUKA3D lets you save these 15 days of time providing you faster deliveries, the extra time saved here can be utilised in better production of the garment,” quoted Umesh Gaur, President-Asia, Tukatech adding “The software also lets the manufacturers save the cost involved in fabrics, trims, transportation and eliminating the extra waiting and production time of the garment,” said Umesh.
These virtual samples can be shared with the production team members and with the buyers using the company’s ‘TUKAcloud’, a web-based digital sample room. The tool is used by all who are involved with the sample approval process, vendors who use TUKA3D in lieu of physical samples do their preliminary/internal reviews via TUKAcloud, and when the management is satisfied with the look and fit, the same 3D sample is shared with the buyers or design team on the same platform. This tool therefore develops a complete transparency within the team and the buyer as the cloud capabilities keep everyone on the same platform by making the information available to everyone. “Cloud is the next version of 3D, so rather than emailing the things what you do is that you upload those things in the cloud. The buyers also even without having the software can get access to it by using some login credentials,” explained Umesh.
The manufacturer can grant access to the buyer through his subscription, granting him the basic access to view and add comments. The buyer on web and using some login credentials can have access to the software, where he can view the virtual samples and status of this order. The system works like a mini PLM, it creates transparency and lets everyone in the team be on the same page. TUKAcloud is included in the package of TUKA3D system and therefore it’s not important for all the users like buyers, vendors and manufacturers to have subscription to the tool. Anyone who has subscription to TUKA3D can grant access to the other party by proxy. Also, there is no such hardware and software specification required, only the buyers buying the software will have to have few software configurations, while viewers need not to have any such requirement as it is web based.
“3D in India is there since the year 2005; we have been experimenting the technology since then. The technology is transforming the business in every other country and now our Indian manufacturers have also over the time realised the importance of the technology and are therefore demanding it,” informed Umesh.
Modaris, a SaaS-based 3D Fit by Lectra, enables pattern-makers, designers, developers and sales and marketing teams to simulate and visualise their models in 3D on a virtual mannequin including the colours, motifs and fabrics originally created in 2D.
The software was originally developed as a pattern maker software, which was then updated to a much wider utilisation including the capabilities for checking look and fit by adding new postures for all its parametric mannequins. Its upgraded features include an enriched library of materials to the total number to 140 making 3D simulation possible for certain knits as well as technical and/or professional clothing.
The software has the ability to link grading to pattern pieces and the option of modifying measurements on the piece itself, or via a dynamic measurement chart. Once a piece has been modified, all linked pieces and grading also display the changes, delivering a considerable time savings as non-value-added work is eliminated.
“The cloud-based capabilities of the software ensure a smooth exchange of quality data throughout the supply chain. In today’s fashion industry, close co-ordination is required to cut short the long lead times and to rapidly get high-quality products to market,” commented Rajeev Sharma, Solution Consultant, Lectra (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Modaris allows exchange of information between the manufacturers and the buyers; manufacturers having the subscription to the software provide access to the software through web. The buyer, with the help of internet, can login to the software and can see the status of his product or the virtual samples for approval. The buyer can also add comments on the website, or make remarks if needed on the samples. The manufacturer subscribing to the tool does not need any special hardware but only a few software specifications, while the buyer with whom manufacturer will share the information will not have to have any software/hardware specifications as these can be used on web.
AccuMark Creator Offered by Gerber Technology
Gerber Technology is one such name that is known to simplify merchandising process through its unbeatable technology. The technology juggernaut recently launched AccuMark Creator, a cloud-based PLM software, that can be synchronised with the Gerber Virtual sampling software like AccuMark 3D to create a common platform where the data can be shared with the internal and external team members. The software enables product development team to work in collaboration and it also lets them share the samples and information with the buyer thus creating a transparency within the system. “The process basically starts with the sample making process and can be directly linked to the AccuMark CAD system,” shared Sajith Kumar, Vice President, IIGM.
The module focuses on virtual sampling process and lets the users do amendments and updates in the information in real time. Any upgradation and changes made in the system are visible to everyone using the system. “This system can be accessed by everybody since it is online. It offers a complete dashboard of where exactly the sample is, ensuring that everyone within the team is on a single platform. We call it SVOT – Single Version of Truth,” added Sajith.
Additionally, AccuMark Creator also allows the manufacturers to share data directly with the buyers giving them the transparency for their order. The buyer can get the real time insights of the production process just by login using credential and can see the status on their browser. The samples made using the AccuMark CAD system are shared internally as well as with the buyers using the system. There is no hardware installation required for using the tool on any side. The viewer does not need to have the subscription of the software as it can be shared with them through the subscriber licence over the proxy. The viewer can just login to the system and enter the same platform and review the samples over internet on his mobile, laptop PC etc.
This process thus also eliminates the extra cost required in the physical sample making process, such as the garment shipment, production, fabric and all the extra cost and time required in the sample making process.
Simbus, a technology consulting and solution company, has strong technology skills to deliver solutions in the areas of product life cycle management, 3D Apparel Design, merchandise planning and analytic for retailers and manufacturers. The company’s Browzwear 3D Apparel Design Suite, a SaaS platform, enables the manufacturers with realistic 3D prototyping. The platform can be used by the manufacturers to reduce the extra efforts that are invested in doing physical prototyping and the buyers to see the status and outcome of their order.
The easy and simplified interface offered by the company lets the users quickly learn and use the tool without extensive training. The system allows easy navigation between the 3D and 2D styling to add precision to fashion design. It comes with an inbuilt tech pack creator that allows quick generation of tech packs for design and proto sampling.
The features of the Suite include a VSTITCHER which is a Design, Develop and Produce tool that allows transforming 2D patterns into realistic 3D prototype. The feature helps the manufacturer to create the virtual samples within no time. Its seamless integration to Adobe software helps in realistic design creation, with accurate draping and true-motion fitting and real human avatars. Moreover, it gives accurate virtual stitching and minimises errors during sampling, providing improved fitting. All the samples can be developed on the virtual avatars available based on skin, size, colour, etc.
The number of prototypes available allows to visualise the garment fit on real human body type. The patterns made in the system can be designed and styled using the LOTTA tool, which is a rapid 3D design and styling tool that opens access to wide range of colours, styles, materials, lightning effects and more. This can be termed as a colourway and fabric bank. The easy integration of system with PLM allows access to colour, fabric and trim libraries. It has an inbuilt fabric analyser that allows automatic capture of fabric properties to enable true to life simulation of the garment drape, stretch and fall.
STYLEZONE is another tool which is a collaboration platform for web and mobile. This lets viewing and sharing of 3D designs by creating an environment where everyone in the process from design to merchandising can get access to it. Its cloud-based capabilities let the merchandisers share their files with the buyers through the web and mobile portals. This gives a platform to the buyer where the buyer can comment and give suggestions on the samples that are shared. This tool is included in the package and the subscriber can grant access to the buyer using proxy, where he will be required to login to the web portal to review the samples and add any feedback. There is no requirement of any new hardware installations to be made as these can be integrated into the users’ current working environment, only a computer system with few basic software capabilities is all that is required.
All these solutions can actively reduce the time and money consumed in merchandising process which is considered as one of the most time-consuming processes in garment manufacturing. However, there is a buzz in the industry that these solutions will eliminate the job of the merchandiser that can be a threat to their roles. However, the fact is that these technologies will not take away the job of merchandisers but will change the job of retailers. The change in job will help the manufacturers shorten their lead times and improve efficiency. Moreover, the extra time saved here could be utilised in improving the quality of the product that is considered as one of the major important points in garment manufacturing.