Fashioning new lines for retail

Complicated product development should flow smoothly from stage to stage and incorporate customer feedback on social media, says Dassault Systèmes

Managing a product line can be a daunting task. From conception and initial research, through to manufacturing and gathering consumer response, there can be tens of thousands of variables to be shared with umpteen teams based in a variety of locations.

It is, therefore, curious that so many firms still attempt the job with a hotchpotch of unsuitable software systems. Communication is split through e-mail, phone calls and the sort of instant messenger apps that teenagers once used. Spreadsheets are pinged back and forth. It’s a ramshackle approach.

The logical answer is to embrace a modern collaborative system; one which not only unifies communication and documentation to provide a “single source of the truth” for all staff in all locations, but which adds new functionalities and values to every stage of the process.

My Collection industry solution experience, the product lifecycle management (PLM) package produced by Dassault Systèmes, is used by multinationals such as Benetton, Guess and adidas. It offers the best collaborative environment for managing product lifecycle, connecting people, innovation and knowledge. Fashion brands and retailers can easily manage their collection development from sketch to shelf and deliver products that enhance their brand identity.

The advantages are significant. Guess cut time from design to shelf by up to 16 per cent from an already sharp timeline. Other brands have estimated gains of up to 50 per cent. Benetton uses My Collection to handle four brands comprised of 9,000 styles in 6,400 stores. Benetton director Andrea Piras says My Collection is “one of the most important initiatives included in the company’s strategic and industrial plan for the next three years”.

Firms using My Collection uniformly report big gains, both in lowered costs and timeframes, and in improved productivity and creativity

Why? Take product development. My Collection allows teams in multiple locations to work together on areas, such as selecting materials, styling, artwork and sample management. Approval processes can be tracked against a seasonal calendar. My Collection allows teams to circulate tasks, projects, and files for analysis and approval. All team members can subscribe, view and comment on discussion topics or any of the responses.

The system is built to handle even the most complicated collection plans. Teams can define multiple seasonal schedules for multiple product hierarchies. And because each component in My Collection is integrated, the product lifecycle flows smoothly from stage to stage. Products can be sourced, registered, labelled and tracked from start to finish. Artwork can be captured and managed across seasons.

The voice of the customer matters too. So My Collection offers a range of tools, running on one single platform, such as dashboards to monitor and share the conversations consumers have on social networks; something not possible using the old-school tools of e-mail and spreadsheets.

Firms using My Collection uniformly report big gains, both in lowered costs and timeframes, and in improved productivity and creativity. These firms have been able to grow their business volumes by 40 to 60 per cent without having to add headcount just to manage the product information. Technical design productivity can grow by 200 per cent. A sportswear brand reports slashing design time from 42 to 28 weeks, with a target of 18 weeks.

The alternative, of using old-school generic software, seems almost masochistic. The risk of allowing teams to work on rival documents or to lose track of materials and approvals are unacceptably high. A modern collaborative system offers improvements almost too numerous to list. Is it worth the effort to switch? Guess chief operating officer Michael Relich puts it this way: “Retail in apparel is a very competitive industry and the ones who are going to win are the ones who adopt technology.”

Find out what My Collection by Dassault Systèmes can do for your company, please visit our website at www.3ds.com/consumer-goods