What is PLM?
Product lifecycle management (PLM) in the apparel industry refers to software that integrates throughout the entire product lifecycle from inception to manufacturing and distribution. PLM software provides a collaborative system that connects players across the supply chain through accurate, real-time data and information collection. CIMdata, a PLM consultancy, states, “It is important to note that PLM is not a definition of a piece, or pieces, of technology. It is a definition of a business approach to solving the problem of managing the complete set of product definition information—creating that information, managing it through its life, and disseminating and using it throughout the lifecycle of the product. PLM is not just a technology but is an approach in which processes are as important, or more important than data.”
In 1985, American Motors Corporation (AMC) was struggling to keep up with their larger competitors, such as Ford and General Motors. To stay ahead, they needed to speed up their product development process. AMC decided to adopt an early form of PLM technology. A digital platform that held all documents and data in a centralized place, this technology provided a communication system that allowed for engineers at AMC to be much more productive while reducing costs. AMC (now Chrysler) being an early user of PLM allowed the company to become the auto industry’s lowest-cost producer in the 1990’s.
PLM in the fashion industry
As other design based-industries learned of the benefits that automobile manufacturers were reaping through the use of PLM solutions, adoption of the solution accelerated. In fashion and apparel, PLM tools have become the preferred system to facilitate the communication of design specifications across creative teams, technical teams and production teams within more innovative companies. Surprisingly, many companies in the fashion and apparel space are still laggards in the adoption of technology in many areas, including design and development.
Increasingly, brands without a PLM platform struggle to communicate and collaborate effectively with internal teams and external partners. For them, data is not easily shared, version control is an issue, and as a result, design and product errors can go unnoticed, delaying time to market.
In the highly competitive fashion and apparel industry, speed to market is crucial. A PLM solution initiates an efficient path from concept to customer, so products are accelerated to the market faster, global collaboration is simplified, and designers can focus their energy on the creative process.
PLM Software Platform Key Advantages include:
✓ Grow Revenue while Reducing Costs
✓ Accelerate Design, Development & Sourcing
✓ Enhance Design Creativity & Productivity
✓ Boost Calendar/Process Visibility & Control
✓ Streamline/Automate Frontend Processes
✓ Foster Team & Supply Chain Collaboration
Discover the right PLM solution for your business
“BEFORE WE HAD EXENTA’S PLM REVO, THE DESIGN TEAM WAS PRETTY INEFFICIENT, DEDICATING A LOT OF TIME TO DIFFERENT TASKS THAT DIDN’T ADD VALUE TO OUR COMPANY. SINCE PLM REVO WAS IMPLEMENTED ALL THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED WITH THE SYSTEM ARE NOT ONLY ENJOYING THEIR WORK A LOT MORE, THEY ARE ALSO MUCH MORE EFFICIENT, INCLUDING MYSELF. OUR TEAM IS A LITTLE SMALLER THAN BEFORE AND WE ARE ABLE TO ACHIEVE BETTER RESULTS, WITH FEWER PEOPLE. WE’RE THRILLED WITH EXENTA PLM REVO.”
– Luisa Zamora, Director of Development and Design, Confecciones ZOE
An effective PLM system automates the approval process to eliminate back and forth emails, spreadsheet tracking and manual approval requests. Security features lock an approved design as final, so that version of the tech pack is safeguarded for production, eliminating any worries that last-minute changes will lead to mistakes at delivery.
Exenta PLM REVO is cloud-based, putting real-time and historical product development information at a design team’s fingertips, providing brands unparalleled visibility into material sources and costs, vendor availability and performance, scheduling and lead times, samples, and more. The web-based/cloud/mobile solution streamlines approvals, change management, line selection, vendor quotes and bids, compliance and other global processes. Real-time information and analytics keep everyone working on the same page, and our apparel PLM software supports better-informed and more timely business decisions.
Exenta’s highly trained experts are armed with application and industry expertise to deliver rapid responses and provide unsurpassed PLM support. Exenta’s enterprise management systems and our staff’s leading-edge technological expertise simplify and optimize IT across business systems and processes. We provide professional consulting and support solutions for the complete Exenta suite and help our clients navigate technology issues, best practices and fashion software trends.
See what the right PLM system can do for your business. Request a demo today.
What is a manufacturing execution system (MES)?
Manufacturing execution systems are computerized systems used in manufacturing to track and document the transformation of raw materials to finished goods. These systems control and monitor production processes that lead to the conversion of raw materials into finished products and help production decision makers make important decisions or detect potential problems as soon as possible, leading to increased production efficiency. MES systems can also form a link between enterprise information systems (typically an ERP system) on the one hand and systems for production process and data collection on the other.
MES systems are intertwined in all different areas of production, such as data collection, production planning and scheduling, and performance analysis. They allow companies to decrease errors in the production process while increasing efficiency and consistency. Successfully implementing an MES system can also ensure accurate data in production, reduce downtime and waste, and introduce an overall paperless production system.
Central Functions of Manufacturing Execution Systems include:
- Data collection
- Staff and resource management
- Process management
- Performance analysis
- Document management
Benefits of an MES system
While an MES system can improve efficiency and consistency while reducing downtime and errors throughout the production process, an MES system can also:
- Reduce manufacturing cycle time
- Reduce or eliminate manual data entry
- Reduce inventory
- Reduce or eliminate paperwork
- Improve product quality
- Improve the planning process
- Improve reliability in data collection and planning
- Improve equipment efficiency
How do MES and ERP systems work together?
“The idea of MES might be seen as an intermediate step between, on the one hand, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) or process control system on the other”. The implementation of an MES with an ERP system allows for integration of real-time data across the supply chain and enables manufacturers to have accurate inventory and material availability to process work orders.
Carrie Bovender, CEO and Owner of Exenta client Grand Forest stated that “due to the integration between Exenta ERP and Exenta Shopfloor Control, our operators are able to scan their own work. By not having to scan barcodes in the office, we reduced our managerial and administrative time by 80%. Basically, we saved one FTE (full time employee) who was then reallocated to a sourcing and business development role, which increased revenue opportunities.” Integrating an MES with an ERP system allows for maximum efficiency and data availability throughout the supply chain.
Shop Floor Control MES software tracks the progress of production throughout sewing operation, giving supervisors, managers and workers real-time information and notifications regarding WIP, including many aspects of workforce management such as employee productivity, labor costs, and pay rates. Using the power of Exenta Shop Floor Control MES data, manufacturers can optimize operator efficiency, offer opportunities to earn incentive bonuses, increase productivity, and improve product quality in sewing operations—all while increasing overall profitability.
Benefits of Exenta Shop Floor Control MES include:
- Real-time data collection
- Off-standard time accounting
- Worker performance feedback
- Automatically calculate payroll
- Quality control using quality performance reporting
- Plant floor visibility and control using order (WIP) tracking and line balancing tools
In order to stay ahead, manufacturers need a strong manufacturing execution system (MES). With Exenta Shop Floor Control MES, companies can depend on a system that will provide real-time data across the supply chain and can seamlessly integrate with an ERP system.
See what an advanced MES can do for your business. Request a demo today.
What is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a software system that seamlessly integrates all processes involved in running a soft goods or apparel manufacturing business. Such processes include sales, finance, inventory, planning, marketing, human resources, and more. An ERP system gives each department access to information company-wide through one collaborative interface. The data collected about each division is available to other parts of the company, allowing for faster and easier communication.
With the emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic, shopping was forced to evolve. Consumers are depending on online shopping more than ever before, and it has become essential for businesses to have a strong e-commerce platform. Companies are under constant pressure by consumers to offer the best e-commerce and fulfillment services. This is not always an easy feat if you are looking to fulfill orders efficiently while remaining profitable. A business’ e-commerce site is more manageable and easily organized with an ERP software solution by creating a streamlined order process and integrating data into one unified system.
How to choose the ERP that is right for you
Finding the right apparel ERP software can be a complex process. Trial and error can be expensive, and every company looking for ERP software has their own specific set of interests, needs and goals. Whether you are considering implementing an ERP system or upgrading an existing one, it is important to understand ERP and what the right one can do for you. A good ERP system allows you to gain real-time visibility across your company, increase productivity and efficiency, and advance your business. It includes features such as inventory and order management, quality control, warehouse management, planning and scheduling, document management, and more.
Manual data entry and outdated software may waste valuable time and inhibit growth, but an ERP system streamlines your business by providing real time data 24/7, so large spreadsheets and tedious data entry are no longer necessary. It also promotes collaboration between parties in all aspects of your company which increases efficiency, visibility and accessibility.
An ERP system provides a centralized source of truth that helps connect other business systems for analysis and planning. The right ERP helps fashion companies optimize financial management and reporting as well as planning for materials requirements. ERP automates tracking and reporting—leading to as much as a 20% reduction in administrative labor hours.
A modern ERP can help a company achieve its goals financially as well as operationally by providing real time information with automatic reporting. This bypasses the painstaking task of collecting information from all across the company and creating massive excel sheets. In today’s market, there is no time to waste. You need the right answers at the right time to hit your financial goals. Companies must modernize to keep up with retailers and consumer demand, and data must be processed quickly. Exenta understands the industry, and we are able to deliver an ERP system that keeps your company ahead of the competition.
Exenta’s industry-specific fashion ERP system software supports your apparel management business by making it easier to manage business processes for the products you are designing, manufacturing or selling. Traditionally defined seasonal calendars are being replaced by continuous development cycles that deliver greater and more frequent product innovations. Order management and fulfillment is now far more demanding in the era of omnichannel retailing and requires exceptional ERP software. To address these new realities and build sustainable success, retailers, brands and manufacturers know that they must leverage the latest information technology and integrations in their apparel ERP software to streamline processes and manage costs.
The benefits of a good ERP system truly never end. See what Exenta ERP can do for your business. Request a demo today.
E-commerce is the future of shopping
Online shopping has risen steadily over the last decade, and the Covid-19 pandemic has given it an unprecedented push. According to Digital Commerce 360 estimates, consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, which is a 44% increase year over year. The publication states this is “the highest annual U.S. e-commerce growth in at least two decades. It’s also nearly triple the 15.1% jump in 2019”. Worldwide, retail e-commerce sales grew by a staggering 27.6% last year. In 2021 there is a further projected 14.3% growth according to Prolific North. In 2020, COVID-19-related boosts in online shopping resulted in an additional $174.87 billion in e-commerce revenue. Statistica predicts that e-commerce revenue will surpass $638 billion in the U.S. by 2022.
While e-commerce popularity grows, brick-and-mortar shopping continues to decline. Department stores have been on the decline for a few years now, and the pandemic sped up the process. In 2019, retailers in the United States announced 9,302 store closings, a 59% jump from 2018. While the coronavirus pandemic had a negative impact on in-store shopping with retailers closing and states issuing stay-at-home orders, this opened up an opportunity for sales through another channel – online. During quarantine, consumers began shopping online at an unprecedented rate, purchasing food, puzzles, athleisure clothes and anything in between. While vaccinations have begun to roll out across the country, officials warn the virus may not be going anywhere anytime soon, and consumers are expected to use e-commerce as their first choice for shopping. According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey, nearly 47% of adults have changed their shopping behavior because of public health concerns.
As consumers trade in retail stores for online, it is more important than ever for companies to have strong e-commerce platforms if they want to survive. Amazon, a digital retail giant, is projected to hold the top spot for web sales in 2021. While most companies don’t carry the same vast and diverse inventory as Amazon, there are other things that drive the e-commerce behemoth’s peerless success in the digital market. A few to focus on are: fast site speed, a simple checkout process, strong customer support technology, easy returns and reliable management software.
Strategies to ensure customers have an optimal shopping experience
For companies looking to transition from retail to e-commerce, the optimal shopping experience is essential. This includes speed, accessibility, and accuracy.
Optimize your site speed
For online consumers, speed is essential in the shopping process. Often, online purchases are driving more by impulse and/or convenience than careful planning and analysis, and companies can quickly lose a frustrated customer to a faster competitor’s site. According to Google’s mobile page speed study, a site’s bounce rate ticks up every second a visitor waits for a page to load. The future of fashion is digital, and optimizing site speed is critical. A study by Skilled found that:
- Of those studied, 79% of shoppers that were “dissatisfied” with a site’s performance were also less likely to buy from the retailer’s site Consumers have high expectations for their online buying experience as they still typically prefer the in-person shopping experience. While a bad site performance can steer shoppers away from a retailer, that does not mean they will avoid their brick-and-mortar store.
- 64% of smartphone users expected a website to load in four seconds or less.
- 47% of online shoppers expected web pages to load in two seconds or less
Another Skilled study found that web speed improvement of mere seconds could generate thousands of dollars daily for companies. Clearly, every second counts in e-commerce. Tips for retailers looking to optimize site speed include:
- Using a fast e-commerce platform
- Finding a reliable hosting provider, and
- Reducing pop ups on product pages
Shopify, a well-known e-commerce platform, offers many suggestions and solutions to improve performance. To manage e-commerce successfully, it’s also important to use a POS that can sync with a back end ERP system which consolidates information and ensures a good customer experience with ease of use and speed.
Make the checkout experience simple and secure
Checkout is another essential part of the shopping experience for the consumer. As mentioned above, it is important for customers to be able to check out easily and quickly online. To do this, companies need a good e-commerce platform that is intuitive for both customers and the employees who manage it. When a great e-commerce platform also integrates with an ERP that tracks inventory and production in real time, consumers are able to know when products will be available and can have accurate and realistic expectations on when to expect delivery. This level of integration eliminates frustration for customers and ultimately leads to a satisfied repeat customer.
Use technology for efficient customer support
Good technology is essential for companies transitioning to online. Not only does it help connect sellers and customer on mobile and web platforms, but also enables the effective management of customer orders, deliveries, returns and payments of purchased goods. Technology plays an essential role throughout the e-commerce value chain, and finding the right technology for your company is indispensable.
Having reliable management software
When shifting from primarily retail to e-commerce, companies must prioritize speed and customer experience. To do this, companies need a strong supply chain supported by modern technology. An inefficient supply chain or poor visibility into supply chain stages can make the difference between profitable growth or business failure, especially when transitioning to online sales. Only by leveraging technology to increase efficiency and visibility throughout the supply chain can companies remain competitive in this primarily digital era.
By combining leading innovation in PLM, Shop Floor Control, ERP, EDI, WMS, Third- Party Manufacturing, and Vendor Portals, Exenta has created the most sophisticated end-to-end, complete Supply Chain Management platform for the fashion and soft goods industry. Up and down the supply chain, Exenta’s Supply Chain solution suite improves digital communication and collaboration between fashion brands and supply chain partners including suppliers, 3PMs, warehouses, and retailers. Real-time visibility across the entire supply chain helps continuously optimize operational decisions, improve agility, and balance competing demands for cost, speed, and quality.
Keep your competitors guessing and have a high-performance e-commerce platform using Exenta’s state-of-the-art manufacturing and production software. Request a demo today!
The Covid-19 pandemic: The unanticipated transformation of an industry
Covid-19 has had an unforeseen and unprecedented impact on the fashion industry as a whole. Clothing sales dropped by nearly 34% in March of 2020 as the pandemic spread across the United States. Consumers cut their spending and began shifting their buying behavior to adhere to new lockdowns and restrictions. Like most major disruptions, this is pushing the limits of industry resilience. The clothing and fashion management software industry is subsequently having to prepare and evolve for the future. Technology has made a massive impact on the fashion industry, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only increased the importance of implementing new software throughout the design, manufacturing and distribution processes.
The rise of technology in fashion production and manufacturing
Labeled by Forbes as “a so-called ‘black swan,’ COVID-19 has exposed a fundamental weakness in the traditional fashion system: matching supply and demand.” With overproduction rates running at 30-40% a season, the fashion industry is quickly realizing the usual way of doing things is no longer going to cut it. While overproduction is costly, it is also damaging to the environment, and consumers are growing increasingly aware of the negative impact on the planet the fashion industry can have.
To cut costs and keep up while reducing their environmental impact, companies are looking to technology. One trend the industry is heading towards is the end of the traditional fashion season. Speed is critical to fashion brands, and this operating model can lead to companies being behind on trends and stuck with large amounts of inventory each season. Fast fashion giants such as Zara and ASOS have been operating with this model for years, and it is quickly becoming an industry norm. No longer do consumers want to be restricted to shopping based on seasonal production, and in order for companies to be successful operating without seasons, they need constant and accurate reporting using a trend forecasting software. Another trend is the industry going digital. As consumers continue to shop primarily online, it is becoming a necessity for companies to have strong e-commerce platforms.
In 2019, there were an estimated 1.92 billion digital buyers, and eCommerce sales accounted for 14.1% of retail purchases worldwide. In 2023, eCommerce retail purchases are estimated to increase from 14.1% to 22%. With the rise of the Covid-29 pandemic, that number is expected to keep going up.
However, a study by First Insight Report noticed that while e-commerce is on the rise, consumers still tend to spend more in-store than online. The study found that “71 percent of all shoppers surveyed spent $50 or more when shopping in-store. This compares to only 54 percent of respondents spending more than $50 when shopping online.” This means that while it is easier and more popular now than ever to shop online, consumers still gravitate to that in-person shopping experience. In order for companies to keep this unique experience while industry trends shift away from in-store shopping, they need technology.
Why the future favors software in the fashion industry
A Sourcing Journal article discussing the future of fashion manufacturing states that “apparel and soft goods factories are beginning to see technology and automation as a gateway to future survival.” As online shopping booms and the importance of a strong e-commerce platform grows, companies are replying on production and manufacturing advances such as 3D technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), EDI, ERP and PLM software.
As we look to the future after Covid-19, we see a more digital in-person shopping experience. AI and 3D software will allow for virtual try-ons, less crowded stores, and even the option to attend a fashion show right from the store with Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. Connecting with the consumer is essential to a brands success, and in order to uphold this new digitally-focused shopping experience, companies need to use ERP and PLM software to get goods to market, as fast as possible. Soon, customers will press a few buttons on a tablet in a store, and companies need to be ready to produce and ship product at incredible speed.
So what is the right software for your company?
An ERP system provides a centralized source of truth that helps connect other business systems for analysis and planning. The right ERP helps fashion companies optimize financial management and reporting and plan for materials requirements. ERP automates tracking and reporting—leading to as much as a 20% reduction in administrative labor hours.
Exenta ERP delivers the most advanced technology in the apparel ERP space and carries no technological debt. Our underlying data structure is designed to meet the unique needs of apparel brands. The ability to customize for STYLE, COLOR, LABEL, PREPACK, and SIZE has a cascading effect on workflow, ensuring ease of use within every downstream process.
PLM simplifies and expedites the path from concept to customer for apparel and soft goods.
It helps designers create new products more easily from existing styles and quickly develop tech packs for manufacturers to follow. Product managers can model “what-if” scenarios to see how choosing different suppliers, materials, or production facilities will impact costs and delivery schedules. Overall, PLM compresses the time needed for design and product development by about 35%, while improving vendor communication, sourcing and costing, line management and sample tracking.
Exenta PLM REVO software for fashion industry has the power to turbocharge your product lifecycle. Taking the user experience to a whole 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.
The future of the apparel and soft goods industries is already here. Request a demo today.