Across every segment of manufacturing, operations leaders are looking for ways to increase the bottom line by finding and eliminating deficiencies in the supply chain. This has never proved more important than in 2020, as the global pandemic disrupted supply chains and logistics across the planet while simultaneously impacting consumer demand and reducing traffic into retail stores.
The way forward will require fashion manufacturers to become more data-driven than ever, honing precision and efficiency throughout their operations. The recent McKinsey State of Fashion coronavirus update notes that to “mitigate the damaging impact of the pandemic and adapt to economic and consumer shifts, companies must introduce new tools and strategies across the value chain to improve operational agility, boost productivity, and future-proof business models.”
Fashion industry supply chains have been notoriously wasteful and inefficient, losing an estimated 25% of fashion manufacturers’ purchased materials to waste at the factory level. Today, leading fashion manufacturers leverage apparel supply chain management software to shore up fashion supply chains and make them both leaner and more sustainable. Doing so helps fashion manufacturers develop greater operational agility—leading to direct improvements in the bottom line. Let’s examine six ways fashion supply chain management can optimize profitability.
Gain End-to-End Visibility Over Your Supply Chain
When optimizing any operational process, the first task should be making sure you have the ability to study all of the relevant data. Spreadsheets are useless if they contain old data. Paper files require too much time to search for answers. Software packages that can’t talk to one another hinder your ability to collect up-to-date information in one location for analysis.
When you have real-time visibility throughout the supply chain, you can make better decisions about where and how to produce a product because you can forecast more accurately. End-to-end visibility can improve the bottom line in a number of ways, such as:
Meeting important customer deadlines
Ensuring the correct amount of material gets ordered
Avoiding the need for expedited shipping costs
Keeping the right amount of inventory in stock to match customer demand
Improving quality so you can lower return rates
Accelerate Your Development Cycle
The first stage of the fashion supply chain begins with designing a new product and managing its materials requirements. The product development cycle needs to work like a well-oiled machine, because fashion trends and customer demand patterns can shift very quickly. Product Lifecycle Management software improves apparel supply chain management by making it easier and quicker for designers to create new products from existing styles. It also helps product managers study sourcing requirements to see how going with different suppliers, materials and production facilities might impact product cost and delivery timelines.
Fashion supply chain management technology empowers you to perform what-if analyses that help balance costs against delivery requirements when deciding between suppliers. With the complete picture of historical performance between different vendors, your team can procure textiles, thread and other materials from reliable vendors at the best possible prices. Being able to consider quality, performance and cost ensures you can delight customers while containing costs.
Exenta customers have been able to compress the time needed for design and product development by up to 35% using PLM REVO™. By shortening that window, designers and product managers have more time to spend on additional product lines, helping to keep labor costs lower in this area and contributing to profitability.
Reduce Product Costs and Overruns
When you have visibility into work in progress—whether inside your own facility or at a third-party production partner—you can help reduce product costs and overruns by keeping a sharp eye on workforce productivity and overtime. Having real-time data and excellent communication tools is critical here. Shop Floor Control systems can provide information and notifications to brands, supervisors, managers, and production employees, so they can keep the line moving, avoid bottlenecks and optimize pay. Real-world results with Exenta Supply Chain Management have reduced overtime by up to 72% while improving workforce productivity by up to 37%.
Improve Testing and Quality
Throughout the design, procurement and manufacturing stages, having integrated, end-to-end Supply Chain Management technology helps brands standardize and automate their product testing, leading to higher quality finished goods. In fact, Exenta customers have been able to increase quality by up to 44% in real-world applications. Better quality contributes to profitability by reducing waste and product returns. Higher quality products satisfy customers and enhance brand reputation.
Improve Inventory Control
Real-time visibility into your supply chain data can revolutionize your product inventory control, especially if your supply chain management solution includes a Warehouse Management System (WMS). These solutions help you control the movement of goods within your warehouses and give you a live view of inventory levels. Having complete awareness over inventory levels can help you run leaner by increasing warehouse operational throughput in the warehouses allowing you to reduce overall inventory levels without disappointing customers.
Improve Collaboration with Your Vendors
Being able to get accurate information on demand from contractors for both committed and consigned goods enables retailers to ensure their customers can purchase the styles they desire while the trends are still fashion-forward. For the best possible communication and collaboration with retailers, leading manufacturers establish a Vendor Portal.
Drop More to Your Bottom Line through Better Supply Chain Management
Exenta offers the most modern, complete, integrated, end-to-end fashion supply chain management technology suite for the apparel and sewn goods industry. It’s designed specifically to help fashion manufacturers achieve cost savings, efficiency gains, and productivity improvements that enhance bottom-line financial results. For a guided tour into how Exenta Supply Chain Management software delivers real-time visibility from initial design to final customer delivery, register for a free software demonstration.
Today more than ever, fashion, apparel and textile companies are looking for the best ways to optimize their supply chain. The reason is simple; an agile and efficient supply chain is key to survival in uncertain times. Access to real-time information gives brands and manufacturers a competitive edge and supply chain technology is essential to ensure you can manage information effectively at every stage of design, manufacturing and distribution. If your organization is trapped in a siloed, inflexible supply chain, it’s nearly impossible to pivot and adapt to shifting market conditions.
Below is an overview of the five key stages of the fashion, apparel and sewn goods supply chain and the specific technologies successful companies leverage to boost productivity and plan proactively to deliver goods to their customers through times of market disruption.
Stage 1: Design and Materials Management:
In order to keep up with the latest trends, your products need to get to the market as fast as possible. In order for this to happen, you must maintain an efficient process of designing and selecting materials, which includes a lot of back and forth communication, sourcing and sample tracking.
Recommended Solution: Product Lifestyle Management (PLM)
Stage 2: Procurement and Manufacturing:
When design and style is complete, it’s time to source vendors and procure materials needed for Manufacturing, including textiles, thread, embellishments and closures. The goal is to find the highest quality materials produced by very reliable vendors at the best price.
Recommended Solutions: Product Lifestyle Management (PLM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Shop Floor Control (SFC)
Stage 3: Warehouse and Fulfillment:
After manufacturing, finished products will be received at one or more warehouses that may be operated by the fashion brand company or a third-party logistics (3PL) operation. When goods come into the warehouse, they need to be accurately identified, counted and put away in the right location, as well as real-time visibility into their entire inventory in stock.
Recommended Solutions: Shop Floor Control (SFC), Third Party Manufacturing (3PM) and Warehouse Management System (WMS)
Stage 4: Distribution:
When it is time to fulfill orders for retailers, warehouse workers need to be directed to the right locations to pick the correct items in the correct quantity. Items and orders need to be labeled and shipped according to retailer requirements.
Recommended Solutions: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Warehouse Management System (WMS), Vendor Portal Management.
Stage 5: Repairs and Returns:
Flawed goods or merchandises that have reached their ‘end of lifetime’ will be returned. Managing the returns stage of the supply chain requires working with partners and retailers to identify condition, authorize returns, schedule shipments, and issue refunds.
Recommended Solutions: Vendor Portal Management, Warehouse Management System (WMS)
Technology is key to driving the visibility, speed and accuracy required to adapt to evolving customer demands and a changing competitive landscape. Better supply chain management helps get products to customers faster which boost profitability. Vendors taking advantage of a cohesive end-to-end Supply Chain Management technology platform will be able to bring a higher quality product to market faster than ever before, with less waste and fewer returns. With our consistent leadership in PLM, Shop Floor Control, ERP, EDI, WMS, Third-Party Manufacturing, and Vendor Portals applications, Exenta has built a supply chain solution for the fashion and the soft good industry using real-time visibility across the entire supply chain.
Interested in learning more about technology and the supply chain? Download our white paper: Automating the Fashion Supply Chain. Ready to take the next step to elevate your supply chain? Schedule a custom demo today!
The turn of the decade has brought about events that took the world by surprise; nonetheless, companies in the US and across the globe have done their best to adapt. As you navigate through the pandemic and the rest of 2020, here are five facts and statistics about the fashion industry to keep in mind:
1. Companies are altering advertising strategies as consumer habits change due to lockdowns and quarantines.
Businesses like Revolve, who get roughly 30% of their annual revenue during the spring festival season (5% of their sales come from events such as Coachella alone), will face challenges as social distancing cancels such large gatherings. Lockdowns have driven marketing practices towards QVC style Instagram posts that present customers with limited-time sale opportunities geared towards triggering a “need to act quickly” in consumers. Pandemic lockdowns also led to an increase in homemade photoshoots, as opposed to high production on-set shoots, which could then be edited to be ready for posting. It’s predicted that spending on social media advertising on sites like Instagram and Facebook will rise from $15.5 billion to $30.8 billion by 2021.
2. Despite many challenges, the pandemic has spurred growth and sped up preexisting, ongoing changes in the fashion industry.
As the industry has navigated the pandemic, there have been increases in digital-only magazine issues, at home shoots by models, and much more. For example, Vogue Taiwan’s May 2020 cover featured a model set against an entirely digital background. Marketing strategies that have become prevalent during the pandemic may fade away once things start returning to normal and models can return to sets. However, movements such as transitioning magazines from print to online began well before COVID and will likely continue after it. Before COVID hit, it was predicted that 2020 would be the first year that digital advertising would account for over half of total spending.
3. While pandemic marketing and advertising practices have leaned towards online retail, lockdowns have still affected consumer purchasing habits significantly.
Through May 2020, countries like the UK saw their online retail growth hit the highest annual result since March of 2008. This growth was made up predominantly by home and garden, electricals, and beer, wine, and spirits. Despite overall growth in online retail, clothing and apparel took losses (-9.8% YoY) as social distancing and lockdowns discourage consumers from purchasing clothes while they are stuck inside. As COVID curves flatten and lockdowns begin to relax, clothing retailers can expect to see increases in consumer foot traffic and spending. However, in countries like the United States where lockdowns may have ended prematurely, companies should be prepared for the possibility that lockdowns return.
4. ECommerce has been growing steadily for several years and is expected to continue to do so.
The retail industry has been undergoing massive changes in the last few years with more than 8,000 store closings in 2017 and over 9,300 in 2019. Predicted closings for 2020 were thus equally high before the coronavirus, and with over 5,500 stores already shut down this year, it seems likely that figures for the year will surpass those of 2019. The fashion industry has not been exempt from these trends, with roughly 1,900 store closings reported in 2018. As a result, it will be important to watch the growth in eCommerce in the upcoming years. Worldwide revenue from the eCommerce fashion industry is expected to hit over $700 billion by 2022, with almost $500 billion coming from clothing, followed by shoes, accessories, and jewelry & luxury items.
5. Consumers have begun to expect more personalized advertisements as they become more accustomed to eCommerce.
According to data from Nosto, a leading eCommerce personalization platform, when using eCommerce to try and raise sales and revenue, 75% of consumers preferred receiving personalized messages, offers, and experiences and 94% of companies recognize personalization as critical to current and future success in this emerging market. Rightfully so, as eCommerce can reach far more consumers globally than retail ever could. ECommerce markets are currently dominated by China, at $740 billion in 2019, followed by the United States at $561 billion.
See how Exenta can help
2020 has shown that domestic and international business conditions can rapidly deteriorate beyond what most companies can plan for. That said, it has also cast light upon both the fashion industry’s ability to adapt and its capacity for growth, particularly in the adoption of technology. As the industry moves towards eCommerce and the internet as a major, if not primary, source of revenue, consider making the move to Exenta’s next-generation enterprise technology. Request a demo and take your business into the future.
Over the past few years, those of us in the fashion industry have been working tirelessly to overcome three major challenges: sustainability, digitalization, and consumer shifts. Many creative and forward-thinking fashion businesses have found success through innovative solutions that help them adapt to changes in consumer expectations as well as the way work gets done—both in the design room and on the shop floor.
The Rules of Business Changed in an Instant During COVID-19
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, fashion businesses have also had to make significant changes to keep workers safe and productive. Many factories have reduced the number of workers on the shop floor to maintain social distancing and instituted other measures such as increased hand sanitizing stations and mask-wearing requirements. Designers and other office staff are working remotely. These changes and economic conditions we now face highlight why it’s so important to gain better insight into day-to-day operations and have the flexibility needed to pivot and adapt to rapid change.
“We went live with Exenta Shopfloor Control in 2016 and there was almost immediate payback. It paid for itself in less than a year and it continues to do so. It’s a great productivity-boosting tool and it never stops—it’s always tracking and assisting with real-time feedback for both employees and management.” –Vice President of IT, global manufacturer of branded and private label apparel
The need for business agility and quest for enhanced profitability is what led one global manufacturer of branded and private label apparel to choose Exenta’s unified fashion supply chain software, starting as an Exenta ERP customer in 2010. As a manufacturer for the largest multi-national big box general merchandise retailers in the United States, this fashion giant produces more than 120 million units each year. Using Exenta’s purpose-built fashion solutions, our manufacturing client is able to respond faster to new market demands and dramatically improve productivity.
“We’re able to respond faster to new market demands because Exenta is such a great development tool. We can do things faster…and so that always puts us at an advantage, even with the COVID-19 pandemic, not just with respect to manufacturing.”
Exenta Solutions Provided the Flexibility to Adapt Quickly
This apparel manufacturer values the flexibility that is built in to Exenta’s supply chain software solutions. Just as a fashion style is more than a single product, a global apparel manufacturer needs a system to manage a wide range of products, facilities, and more. As a global company, they’ve had to make several quick adjustments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Exenta’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Shop Floor Control (SFC), and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software have allowed them to design and implement creative and effective solutions.
Now that most of their designers are working remotely, they value Exenta’s cloud-based PLM software which allows employees to log in to the system very easily from home using a web browser and/or the Adobe Illustrator plugin. They’ve also been able to bring on a third-party logistics warehouse in just three weeks, with full EDI automation. The system’s flexibility has enabled them to bring new contractors online very quickly using the Exenta Vendor Web Portal. For example, they’ve had to expand their use of outside contractors in Asia during the pandemic and PLM has also improved their ability to do accurate costing.
In addition to the tools they need to speed great designs and send desirable products to market, Exenta’s solutions emboldened this global manufacturer to creatively address social distancing in their facilities. Using employee QR codes and digitized cafeteria menus, they were able to build a process in just five days to track and manage cashless transactions for cafeteria purchases for about 2,000 employees. Here’s how it works:
Each employee has a badge with a QR code. The cafeteria staff sets up a menu of items and their associated prices in Exenta’s ERP system. Once the employee orders, the cafeteria worker selects the menu items. The employee scans their badge to record the items purchased. Once a week, that information is sent to the payroll system and it gets recorded as a deduction. No cash needed.
In addition to helping implement safe practices for workers, Exenta’s SFC software is helping this global manufacturer gain better insight into the production impacts of having fewer people in the plants. SFC provides visibility into WIP and production efficiency through real-time notifications so that management can see how production is running in all of their facilities worldwide instantly. This enables them to increase order size with another facility to offset one that is running at reduced capacity or add new contractors as needed.
Ready to Enhance Your Agility and Flexibility?
Business conditions are always changing and fashion moves quickly. Exenta’s supply chain software solutions are designed to help you measure results faster and make better projections about the financial impacts of COVID-19 or other factors on your production costs, inventory levels, and sales. Register for a free software demonstration and find out how our innovative solutions drive increased productivity and profitability.
The pandemic has given so many of us an opportunity to experience remote work, and as a result, many fashion and apparel companies are evaluating how well their systems support remote teams. Today, after several months of working through the design and collaboration process remotely, some organizations are past the virtual learning curve.
Are more companies considering making working from the new normal? Five years ago, the obvious answer would have been “No.” But, the pandemic has made many organizations reconsider. Many digitally driven corporations including Shopify, Facebook and Twitter have all announced plans to transition some of their workforce to permanently work from home. Even companies with more traditional needs like manufacturers are allowing non-production employees to work virtually. If French automaker PSA is ready to embrace a “new era of agility”, it stands to reason that many fashion brands will do the same.
According to a recent study published in WWD, 77% of workers surveyed would like to option to continue working from home at least part of the week post-pandemic. In addition to the benefits that work from home is providing in minimizing the spread of COVID, companies are also seeing opportunities to leverage work from home as an opportunity to recruit talent outside their geographic footprint. As more fashion brands explore the possibility of allowing more of its workforce to be virtual, technology needs to support remote work and collaboration are essential to their success. For designers, a cloud-based product lifecycle management tool is key.
At Exenta, we’ve been fortunate to receive rave reviews from users of our PLM REVO application since its release a few years ago. “PLM Revo is a fresh take on PLM in terms of being able to put the designer first,” says Exenta PLM Product Manager, Nikole Davis.
But, how have Exenta PLM REVO users faired at home, away from the collaborative surroundings of their workplace? Is their current work at home environment sustainable? We wanted to check in with our PLM users and see, so we got in touch with Julie Keller, a freelance designer with 20 years’ experience in apparel, textiles and fashion design who also works with Exenta’s PLM solutions on a day-to-day basis.
In other systems, collaboration is cumbersome, distracting creatives from their normal process. Long periods of waiting for feedback or for a sample garment to arrive through the mail is an outdated way to work. Julie Keller, who regularly uses Exenta PLM REVO, struggles when she is working with a brand that does not have a cloud-based PLM, “I’ve been doing some freelance recently for another company, I’ve been on their Dropbox and it’s been a disaster. I can’t get into the Dropbox and then they have to give me access.” She continues, “I do have a friend that has no PLM at all and it’s a disaster… Who has the Excel file? Which one is the most recent one? Should I send it to you? Have you updated it? It doesn’t work. It makes no sense.”
In today’s consumer driven climate, the sooner you can get your product(s) to the market the better. Exenta PLM supports that by making communication and collaboration effortless by including user and team notifications, system-wide commenting, and assignments & handoffs through design milestones. Our advanced platform also includes Adobe Illustrator Plug-in, data import suite and a mobile-first design.
So many adjustments have forced their way into industries due to COVID-19, is it time permanently adopt some of these changes? More than ever, the demand to work from home is apparent, and more apparel and textile companies are changing with the times. How easily are you able to commit to these changes? With Exenta PLM Revo, working from home will be your easiest commute.
Exenta PLM REVO™ Design Plug-in for Adobe® Illustrator® enables designers to launch new concepts, contribute to and use information from PLM software fashion industry without ever leaving their design software let alone their home. The web-based/cloud/mobile solution streamlines approvals, change management, line selection, vendor quotes and bids, compliance and other global processes. Getting a cloud based, mobile solution is a key component in efficient and at home business stability and organization. Real-time information and analytics keep everyone working on the same page and supports better-informed and more timely business decisions.
Traditional PLMs have all the data points in one central space, but Exenta PLM makes it more efficient to get to the data. Keller says, “When I’m working in PLM REVO, I’m not having those issues. Everybody’s looking at the same thing at the same time. It’s not like I’m trying to futz through trying to figure out different programs and how do I send those, and what format does it have to be in for them to see it.”
We asked Julie how working from home has affected her communication with her manufacturers across the globe. Keller explains, “They’re seeing exactly what I put in as well. We’re easily collaborating with [manufacturers] overseas.” She continued, “My friend, she has no PLM, so I can’t even imagine. She said it’s a disaster… She’s working at night when China’s open and all that just trying to get everything back and forth.” Without Exenta’s PLM Revo solution, collaboration is time consuming and poor supply chain management leads to costly losses.
Exenta’s Product Lifestyle Management Revolution (PLM Revo) takes the user experience to a new level. It eliminates much of the tedious data entry, to keep designers creative and automates time-consuming processes to speed products to market and simplify global collaboration. Our PLM solution provides companies with better ability to streamline products and have more control over collections with the ability to collaborate quickly and effectively. Don’t waste your time with lagging data streams or an PLM system. Schedule your demo today.
With remote work becoming a part of today’s new norm, having a system that can support remote teams is crucial for your business. Request a demo today to learn how Exenta’s cloud-based PLM can help your company transition to working from home.
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