The importance of digitisation was well known to business before the pandemic, but the actual implementation was slow and less. It is rightly said that some of the biggest changes need some situations like COVID-19 to bring about important transformation. The crisis has increased digital adoption significantly with companies and even customers going digital for getting their jobs done. The times have changed and there is no denying that this pandemic is going to change how we do many things, forever. So why not get prepared for the change now!
The fashion industry is complex, as demands are variable and change with consumer trends. Retailers prepared themselves for the coming season with forecasting, but no one was ready for such deep changes in consumer buying behaviour. Change in lifestyle has affected buying patterns, and it can be said that for the next 3 months, the major fashion that consumers will be purchasing will be loungewear or athleisure. Therefore, retailers need to re-strategise their business plans according to the new normal. Today, we’ve seen less physical and more of digital connection which is helping us collaborate and communicate better and is making us quickly adapt to the new technology. Since a lot of companies that have already gone digital are recovering more quickly and are increasing productivity and efficiency, it is important for brands and retailers to get onboard in order to survive in the post-pandemic environment.
Fashion product development is among one of the areas that is the most time-consuming, as it is quite a decentralised process. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) can help businesses increase collaboration and communication for streamlining the process and reduce unnecessary tasks, saving time and costs. PLM streamlines production, reduces errors, and empowers effective remote team collaboration, ultimately saving time and money – a strategy that’s vital for businesses entering a recovery phase.
“Implementing PLM is essential to enable businesses to react to marketplace fluctuations, and not only recover successfully, but also go on to thrive in the new climate and respond rapidly if the virus resurges. Many brands are revolutionising the way they ideate, design, and sell products with PLM acting as a digital backbone that enables them to capitalise on three key drivers: agility, efficiency, and innovation,” said Lily Dong, APAC Marketing Director, Centric Software®. A PLM solution digitises four major phases of the fashion industry including conception, design, production, and distribution.
For businesses to stay relevant in the post-COVID-19 world, retailers need to focus on reducing their development time. The use of PLM solution can help digitise the work flow, enabling better communication, collaboration, and reducing the extra amount of time that was otherwise invested in doing the process. It is important to look at the process that can help reduce time, and therefore, reduce the product development time, and subsequently, the time to market. The other benefits of the solution involve integration with planning tools, and with good data analytics, it can give visibility to what needs to be designed. Communication with suppliers and factories can be simplified by involving them in PLM and letting them have an active participation in the development process. Integration is key for the success of digitalisation, and PLM is the perfect platform for integration of different roles/locations.
Stepping stones to recovery path
Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Centric Software provides a Digital Transformation Platform for fashion, retail, footwear, luxury, outdoor, consumer goods, and home décor. Centric Fashion PLM connects all product-related activities and product information including the entire supply chain on one cloud-based platform, giving internal and external users a single, actionable version of the truth in real time. “What recovery looks like will vary from country to country as their situations evolve, but there is one key thing that’s been made evident by this pandemic – businesses that succeed in the future will be powered by digital transformation and will heavily depend on technologies that leverage remote collaboration – such as Centric Software®’s Product Lifecycle Management,” said Lily.
Centric Fashion PLM builds communication across branding, design, merchandising, financial planning, development, specs, sourcing, manufacturing, quality control, and presentation at retail to increase efficiency, cut costs and speed time to market. It has eight core modules including merchandise planning management, development calendar management, design and development management, material management, cost management, series management, procurement management, and quality management.
Centric PLM solution is based on the needs of different customers like retailers, SMBs, etc. Centric’s flagship PLM platform, Centric 8, delivers enterprise-class merchandise planning, product development, sourcing, quality, and collection management functionality tailored for fast-moving consumer industries. Centric SMB provides innovative PLM technology and key industry learning for emerging brands. Centric Visual Innovation Platform (VIP) offers a new visual and digital experience for collaboration and decision-making, and includes the Centric Buying Board to transform internal buying sessions and maximise retail value, and the Centric Concept Board for driving creativity and evolving product concepts. All Centric innovations shorten time to market, boost product innovation, and reduce costs.
The retailers with the solution are benefited in three major ways – the solution maximises product introduction success through the centralised merchandise plan for visibility and establishes targets earlier. The users can easily track the product performance pinpointing the best and worst selling product to plan their assortment plan accordingly for better sales. The availability of data helps minimise the guess work in product introduction, pushes private and white label products. Private label and white label products are usually more profitable than branded products, as it’s easier to control margins, and luckily for retailers, more consumers are putting both items in their shopping baskets.
PLM streamlines private label development, whether users create products from scratch, co-create with suppliers, or source finished products. It reduces errors and eliminates tedious hours of data entry, so users can get a wide selection of products to market faster; and it turns up the volume on sourcing, when a business uses many different suppliers, employees can end up drowning in spreadsheets. High-volume sourcing and direct to factory sourcing are powered by PLM solutions. Users can launch and evaluate supplier requests en masse while automatically consolidating RFQ responses and supplier notes in one centralised digital space.
Centric cloud-based solution is available on a subscription basis as Software as a Service (SaaS). For the installation, a Representational state transfer (Rest) API enables companies to leverage Centric data throughout the organisation by connecting with business systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Digital Asset Management (DAM), or other platforms. Users can even create their own apps to seamlessly connect or digitally transform processes without limitation.
For the collaboration between the buyer and the manufacturer, both need to have the system installed. This enhances and speeds up the collaboration through the cloud-based digital environment enabling better management of every aspect of the R&D, product development, costing and sampling process, including responding to RFPs, building tech packs, quality testing, compliance documentation, and more. Manufacturers and their customers enjoy greater transparency, better communication, fewer errors, and time savings. “The implementation can be as fast as 3 to 4 months for Centric 8 PLM. Centric’s SMB solution for small to medium-sized companies packages the core modules of Centric 8 PLM into a small business-friendly product and can be implemented at breakneck speed – in just a few weeks – and at a competitive price offering,” commented Lily.
“Over the course of the pandemic, many apparel companies have seen fast, fundamental changes to the way they work, bringing unforeseen challenges that can only be overcome through rapid response and quick adaptation. And, in an era in which mobile phones, laptops, IoT, AI, and other technologies form part of our everyday lives, achieving business agility without key digital innovations is almost impossible. Leveraging revolutionary cloud-based technologies such as Centric PLM, Quick-start remote collaboration boards, and 3D design integrations will only become more important in times ahead,” underlined Lily.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Centric Software®’s PLM solutions have been selected by 30 brands, retailers, and manufacturers to boost efficiency, reduce costs, and drive remote collaboration. Brands, retailers, and manufacturers – ranging from large retailers to digital natives to upcoming brands to traditional manufacturers – from 10 countries have shown an overwhelming need to quickly adapt to the new conditions imposed by the pandemic and prepare for the future.