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3 Ways the Right PLM Solution Reduces Cycle Time, Costs, and Inefficiency

3 Ways the Right PLM Solution Reduces Cycle Time, Costs, and Inefficiency

3 Ways the Right PLM Solution Reduces Cycle Time, Costs, and Inefficiency

 

There are several different issues that affect the efficiency of product lifecycles in the fashion business. When you specifically look at product lifecycle management (PLM) software for fashion, the top concerns tend to include:

  • Effective communication between designers, product managers, and suppliers
  • Quality and accuracy of all the data in your tech packs
  • Your PLM solution’s flexibility and ease of use

Ideally, your PLM software will be adaptable enough to support the way your team already works. However, all too often, deploying a new system means disrupting everyone’s workflows and forcing them go through a long process of training and adjustment. When this happens, people tend to resist the new system and avoid using its more advanced features. As a result, the expected ROI from the deployment never materializes—leaving you with little to show for the effort except a big hole in your bottom line.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here at Exenta™, we’ve made it our mission to revolutionize the role of PLM systems in the fashion industry by eliminating the pains and inefficiencies of new system implementation and maximizing the positive effects on product development costs and cycle times. Get ready to take a fresh look at PLM software. It’s time to experience the power of PLM REVO™.

 

Flexibility Empowers Your Team to Do its Best Work

 

Rather than forcing your team to use pre-defined one-size-fits-all templates, PLM REVO™ enables you to define your own category labels, milestones, calendaring. This way, our system supports your existing workflows with minimal disruption during the transition. We also designed PLM REVO™ with a clean, minimalist interface so it’s easy to pick up and use the system quickly. We’ve even had managers tell us they barely had to train their team at all.

 

Equally important, we’ve made sure that our system is responsive when accessed on mobile devices. This is critical, because you never know when inspiration will strike. Your team needs to be able add notes or details to a new product design anywhere, anytime. Our mobile-friendly PLM interface makes this fast and easy to do from any device.

 

One End-to-End Solution for All Your Data and Workflows

 

It’s common for new product designs or ideas to start off in a spreadsheet or an email, and only move into the PLM system once all the details are settled. Because this requires your team to manually type the data in more than one place, the risk of errors is increased. PLM REVO™ enables your team to start entering data directly into the system as soon you start working on a new design—eliminating redundant data entry and reducing the risk of errors. With all of your data in one place, your team will never be left scrambling to find the right information from disparate emails and Excel files.

 

Ultimately, having all of your data and workflows in one system helps reduce the number of samples you need to produce, which is a major factor in the cost and time required for new product development. With numerous cycles of manufacturing, shipping, testing, feedback, and repetition—the costs add up quickly. When you can get all the details right in fewer cycles, you not only save money, but also get your products in front of customers that much faster.

 

Reduce Your Cycle Time and Start Getting Products to Market Faster

 

As fashion trends continue to accelerate, the bottom line is that you need to get products on store shelves faster than the competition to capture sales and market share. Looking ahead, the need for rapid, efficient product development will only increase as innovations like 3D modeling and virtual sales become more popular. In this environment, Exenta helps your product managers, designers, and suppliers work together seamlessly to take new products from a concept on the drawing board to your new best-selling item of the season.

 

Whether you are preparing to implement your first PLM solution for a growing company or replace your legacy system for an established brand, Exenta PLM REVO™ can help take your organization to the next level. Our philosophy is based on empowering clients to achieve success Without Limits™ by delivering powerful business solutions at a fraction of the cost of traditional enterprise software.

 

Your team can work more efficiently, reduce the cost and time of product development, and get products to market faster. Schedule a demo or contact Exenta today to learn more.

Experience the Exenta Difference in Vendor Communication and Management

Experience the Exenta Difference in Vendor Communication and Management

The Evolving Challenge of Vendor Relations

 

The fashion world keeps getting faster, driven by new technologies and rising consumer expectations. As a result, supply chain management and vendor relations have become increasingly complex for fashion brands. A 2017 poll of manufacturing and retail companies by American Shipper found that 70% have at least 11 different suppliers—and up to 500.

 

In this extremely competitive environment, the way you work with your vendors has a huge impact on your bottom line and ability to succeed over the long term. Unfortunately, many brands have been slow to implement modern vendor communication and management tools—and even fewer have integrated these solutions with supply chain and product lifecycle management (PLM) software. If you are still spending your time tracking down the latest status information from disparate spreadsheets and handling design files with email, it’s time to stop the frustration and step into the future of fashion.

 

Disparate Systems Cause Blind Spots and Communication Breakdown

 

More than 50% of companies have PLM software in place. However, more than 70% said their digital systems are only partially or not connected at all—leaving them dependent on email, spreadsheets, and other ad-hoc solutions to fill the gaps. Companies are even more disconnected in terms of supply chain management software.  More than 80% of companies said these systems are partially or not connected to other solutions.

 

This digital disconnect can cause big problems with when it leads to unexpected delays, empty shelves, and lost sales for your customers. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Today’s technology can provide all of the capabilities you need to permanently break down those data silos and manage your vendors more effectively than ever before.

 

How Exenta’s Vendor Portal Enables Seamless Communication

 

Exenta offers a powerful Vendor Portal as an add-on for our PLM REVO™ and ERP customers. This web-based solution brings unprecedented visibility and efficiency to your organization’s vendor relationships—helping you save time and stay competitive in an industry that is not only extremely fast-paced, but also rapidly evolving.

 

With Exenta’s Vendor Portal, you will be able to manage essential product information, tech packs, purchase orders, and shipment and container information in one central location. As a result, you’ll be able to:

  • Automate your procurement and bidding processes
  • Eliminate mistakes from disorganized emails and spreadsheets
  • Improve the quality and accuracy of your samples
  • Save time and simplify communications with all data in one location
  • Track items throughout your supply chain

When vendor communications are centralized in Exenta’s Vendor Portal, your team can save a lot of time that’s currently wasted searching through inboxes and spreadsheets. That’s time you can re-invest in creative initiatives and customer interactions that enhance your brand and create value for your organization.

 

Exenta’s solutions provide excellent value because they are designed for the fashion industry, with specific features built in to optimize your vendor communications and supply chain management. Our vendor portal enables you to:

  • Easily add images or attachments to note changes
  • Update measurements with variances
  • View costing information by vendor
  • Manage large files via a central image library
  • Access PO comments and revision history
  • Track production, WIP, and shipment details
  • Integrate seamlessly with your ERP system
  • Eliminate emails with built-in messaging

 

Why You Can’t Afford to Wait

 

Fashion just keeps getting faster, and in a global marketplace your customers have more choices than ever before. Consumers expect constantly increasing speed, selection, and convenience, so the bar is continually being raised for every brand and retailer. Exenta’s Vendor Portal gives you the power to make seamless vendor communication feel effortless, so you can work more efficiently, eliminate administrative headaches, and put your organization’s focus on creating and delivering great products.

 

It’s time to experience the Exenta difference. Contact us or schedule a demo today to experience the power of Exenta’s fashion-focused solutions firsthand.

How Supply Chain Management Affects Customer Experience and Your Bottom Line

How Supply Chain Management Affects Customer Experience and Your Bottom Line

In the fashion industry, your supply chain has a major impact on the customer experience, with significant long-terms effects on business relationships and the bottom line. At the end of the day, your business is a supply chain, because it’s all about moving products from the design board to the factory and ultimately to the point of sale. If you overlook the importance of your supply chain and fail to ensure sufficient visibility and reliability, you do so at your own risk.

Consequences of Weak Supply Chain Management

 

Late shipments and other supply chain issues will typically result in chargebacks from your customers, which drain your profit margins. As a result, you end up with less capital and it becomes that much harder to invest in your business. It’s a bit ironic: the problems in your supply chain cost you money, which makes it more difficult to fix those same problems.

 

However, chargebacks aren’t necessarily your biggest challenge in most scenarios. Your customer relationships are what really matter, because these don’t just represent incremental profits, but entire revenue streams that your business depends on.

 

A weak, unreliable supply chain will encourage customers to seek an alternate supplier for their products. Even if one late shipment doesn’t break a relationship, it will damage your customer’s trust in you. The need to expedite shipments to cover weaknesses in your supply chain can become quite costly, and you may need to incur other extra costs to recover the relationship and ensure consistency for future deliveries.

 

Competition is Fierce in the Globalized Fashion Industry

 

Today, your customers have more choices than ever before. It’s become incredibly easy to shift production lines from one factory or country to another, so it’s critical to keep customers satisfied by consistently delivering the right products at the right time. An empty store shelf is a worst-case scenario, both for retailers and brands.

 

If you leave your customers hanging one time too many, it can be the end of your relationship, so it is essential to have real-time visibility and control over your supply chain. This gives you the ability to manage expectations and make adjustments to production and shipping plans, which can mean the different between maintaining a positive working relationship with a customer—or losing that relationship to a competitor.

 

For example, imagine you are trying to fulfill a large order for an important customer, and there is a technical problem at your manufacturing facility or a labor strike at a critical port of entry. If you’re just waiting for someone to email you, it might be too late to do anything by the time you find out about the issue. If you could receive an alert as soon as the order gets off schedule, you have options to react and manage the situation. You may be able to get out an expedited shipment from another location to cover the short-term demand, or make other adjustments in your supply chain to avoid further problems down the line. At the very least, you can alert your retail partners as far in advance as possible so you maintain trust in the relationship. Nearly half of all apparel brands rate their supply chain communications as “fair or poor” at best. It’s likely not a coincidence that about the same segment of the apparel industry has yet to adopt technologies to enhance the supply chain such as ERP and PLM.

 

Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility Enhances Your Organization’s Core Strengths

 

When you have real-time visibility into your supply chain, you can continuously optimize your decisions regarding where to produce your products, how to deliver them to customers, and the best ways to balance competing concerns about cost, speed, and consistency.

 

Exenta is 100% focused on enabling fashion companies to meet these needs by supplying industry-leading supply chain management technology. Our solutions not only make it easier to manage products in the manufacturing and shipping environments—they also empower you to engage your partners more effectively on all issues related to your supply chain. With Exenta, you have the ability to interact with suppliers in real time to model “what if” scenarios so you can make decisions strategically, from a completely informed perspective.

 

For example, if you decide to move a production line from one facility to another, or change shipping arrangements to get to market faster, you need to have full visibility into how that choice will affect you, your customers, and your bottom line. This is what Exenta provides, so you can focus on strengthening relationships. Rather than juggling data behind the scenes and struggling to make ends meet, you’ll be able to give real-time answers to customers’ questions and work together to stay ahead of a constantly changing market.

The Art of Fashion Meets the Science of Big Data

The Art of Fashion Meets the Science of Big Data

The Art of Fashion Meets the Science of Big Data

Modern fashion is a multi-trillion-dollar industry in which the competition is fierce and change is the only constant. Style trends and customer habits are constantly evolving, and keeping up with the market has always been a challenge. Today the pace of fashion is faster than ever, and the industry is moving toward a variety of new business models to keep up with changes in the way consumers experience fashion. One of the biggest changes concerns the way that companies use data to drive their design and manufacturing operations.

A recent report from McKinsey & Co. labeled 2019 a “year of awakening” for the fashion industry, as companies find new ways to predict trends, increase productivity, and get products to market faster. Specifically, the third annual State of Fashion report noted that brands are increasingly practicing “self-disruption” by leveraging data analytics and automation. Nearly 80% of fashion executives surveyed by McKinsey called self-disruption one of the top five trends affecting the industry.

 

What Does Big Data Mean in the Fashion Industry?

The phrase “big data” is extremely broad, encompassing an industry that is already worth more than $20 billion and forecast to exceed $100 billion by 2022. A separate analysis predicts a market value of more than $200 billion. In any case, it’s clear that big data is already a big business. In the fashion world, this term typically refers to a company’s accumulated knowledge of how products move at every stage of the cycle from the drawing board to the point of sale. If all of this data is organized in a usable form, brands can leverage that information to make faster and more accurate decisions, create better products, and get to market in time to keep up with fast-changing fashion trends.

Historically, companies have relied almost entirely on gut instincts. They had some data about shopping trends and what people were buying. There were magazine covers, fashion shows, and other cues from influencers and industry stakeholders. In the last few years, social media and fashion blogs have provided more direct insight into what styles and items consumers currently “like.” But these were really isolated data points and it was difficult to produce actionable information.

It has always been hard to get a cohesive picture of how all the likes, shares, and sales interacted with the back-end issues of design, cost, and manufacturability. That’s what big data provides: a comprehensive, big-picture view of everything that matters when you need to make big decisions about what theme to use your company’s spring collection, or how to allocate production cost-effectively across a global network of factories.

Fashion has always been an art. Big data doesn’t change that—it elevates the art with a little bit of science. Data-driven fashion means being able to validate your gut feeling about what style is going to be hot in the coming season, or develop a specific business plan to maximize the value of an exciting new product. When you have the science of big data backing up your decisions, you can take advantage of opportunities faster and avoid pitfalls like wasted designs, markdowns, unsold products, or poor margins.


Specific Data to Track and Measure for Better Planning and Execution

One of the most important uses of big data in the fashion industry is to get an accurate, unbiased view of trends in the market. You need to know what type of styles, colors, and specific items are actually in demand. But tastes and trends vary considerably between geographic regions and demographic groups. To target your audience correctly, you need to be able to slice and dice the data from different sources to form the picture that is most relevant to the decisions at hand.

When you look at the production and manufacturing side, you need to be able to correlate all of your inventory, sales, and production plans with the demand you’re predicting. Specifically, you need to know what you have in stock, what you’re planning to produce, and how those volumes match up against anticipated demand. If a product or style is on its way out, you need to know as soon as possible so you can taper or halt your production at the right time to avoid building up unsellable inventory. On the other hand, if a particular line or item is hotter than ever, it may be a good time to increase production so you can capitalize on the investment you’ve already made in designing and marketing those goods.

Finally, you need to extend your visibility into the shop floor to see in real time how you’re performing against your strategic plan. When you have more information about what’s happening in the production environment, you can identify opportunities to gain efficiencies or seize new opportunities that may not have been part of your original plan. Imagine having the same view of your factories as an air traffic control tower looking out over an airport’s runways. You can see everything as it’s coming and going, enabling you to identify problems before they happen and proactively address any issues rather than reacting after the fact.

All of this visibility gives you the flexibility to turn on a dime, which is critical in today’s omni-channel retail market. Consumers are unquestionably driving the marketplace right now, and companies don’t have the luxuries of long lead times and supply-driven style trends as they did in the past. Big data can help you keep up with the speed of fashion and hit elusive market opportunities at the right time.

How Real Exenta™ Customers Have Benefited From Big Data

One of our clients started as a woodworking company 90 years ago, and over the years they’ve pivoted from one market to another and remained successful. Today the company manufactures a variety of custom products, such as the custom pillowcases and decorative items with personalized with a family name or a photo of the children or a beloved pet, that have become so popular with consumers recently. This company is a 24/7 operation and it is completely vertically integrated. They take in the order, do the design, manufacture the product, and handle the packaging and shipping from their own warehouse.

When you have a 24/7 operation where you are personally responsible for all the moving parts, you cannot have any mistakes, so the ability for this client to process their orders and see production progress in real time is extremely valuable. All of their data is integrated in a single system that automatically updates and calls attention to anything that threatens delivery timelines.

In the past, this level of visibility was impossible, and stressful situations were very common. During the year prior to Exenta’s implementation, they had employees who were working 20-hour days during their busy holiday season. Employees were at a breaking point. They couldn’t spend time with their families, they were getting burned out and worrying about their health. People were saying they would have to quit if nothing changed.

After Exenta implemented our solution suite, we saw a huge impact not only in terms of the company’s bottom line, but also in employee satisfaction and happiness. We were getting a lot of positive emails from employees saying, “It’s 4:30 in the afternoon and I’m home. Last year at this time, I didn’t get home until 2:00 in the morning.” Putting people first is a key value for Exenta, so it was a real moment of pride for us to know that our solutions were helping everyone in the company perform better and improve their overall situation.

Another great success story we heard from of our customers involved a company importing third-party data into the system and generating reports to accelerate their design planning. In today’s fashion world trends can grow in popularity very rapidly, and designers need to be able to respond just as quickly. By integrating sales data in our system, this client was able to create new design plans approximately three times faster than before. This enables them to keep up with the latest styles and get products to market faster than ever.


The Future of Big Data in Fashion Design and Manufacturing

More than 40% of fashion executives surveyed by McKinsey said conditions are becoming more challenging for the industry as the global economy slows down. However, fashion businesses continue to have massive growth potential as the economy becomes more consumer-centric. Taking advantage of that potential will require a mix of old-school art and modern data science.

Exenta is a forward looking company. Like our customers, we are always trying to figure out the next turn in the road so we can proactively move in that direction rather than letting the market get ahead of us. We offer the only state of the art, end to end solution for the fashion industry. Our ERP, PLM REVO, and Shop Floor Control are all best of breed systems that can be implemented separately or as a completely integrated workflow solution.

We also realize that, just as fashion is getting faster, data is getting bigger. Looking ahead, our goals include leveraging AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics with an ever-increasing volume of data to help our customers automate more tasks, increase labor efficiency and productivity, and run their business better.

Interaction Matters: The Advantages of Face-to-Face Training in a Digital Age

Interaction Matters: The Advantages of Face-to-Face Training in a Digital Age

Online or e-training has grown in popularity in the past decade, particularly due to its 24/7 availability, ease of use, and accessibility. For these reasons, many organizations choose online training to orient newly hired employees. While many workplaces are drawn to the flexibility and, of course, the lower costs of online training, the benefits of face-to-face training may be well worth giving old school methods a fresh look. Not all content can be seamlessly translated into the digital world just yet, and for this reason, there are aspects of face-to-face training that simply cannot be recreated by online training.

 

At our core, humans are social creatures. We thrive on social interactions, and while technology and social media have made it easier than ever to connect, face-to-face interaction has a strong impact on our cognitive and behavioral processes. In-person training faciliates engagement, communication, and stronger learning overall, and something that is lacking in the online training experience. Face-to-face training fosters collaboration and teamwork. It also offers unique opportunities for networking – a handshake and in-person conversation are exponentially better than exchanging impersonal emails back and forth. Networking is one of the key aspects of business, and face-to-face training offers a simple and easy way to form these connections. Relationships are strengthened by these face-to-face interactions, especially because body language and behavioral mannerisms come into play during in-person trainings. It provides for a far richer emotional experience, which can be essential in creating lasting impressions.

 

Another benefit of face-to-face training is its potential for adaptability. A good instructor can recognize and meet the needs of their specific participants – if they need more help with certain topics, the instructor can adjust the course to meet these needs, creating a more positive learning environment for all. E-training can fall into the rut of not having that type of flexibility available, which could be detrimental to certain types of learners. In addition to its adaptability, however, face-to-face training boosts concentration and engagement. An online course essentially boils down to watching a video or chatting in a chatroom; face-to-face training necessitates a higher level of focus. Distractions that can plague e-learners are removed in an in-person environment; there’s no opportunity to “multi-task” while speedily clicking through an online course’s screens when you attend a face-to-face training session. As a result, it’s clear that face-to-face training can help learners truly learn the material, rather than simply skimming through a video or slideshow. While nothing can beat online learning’s convenience and flexibility for those with strict schedules, the level of interaction that face-to-face training provides is incomparable.

 

Finally, the cost-effectiveness of virtual training may be rather misleading. If your workers aren’t adequately participating in or learning from the materials provided, then you may have to spend more money down the line in retraining your employees, which would negate the savings from choosing online training. As a result, it’s important for companies to consider what’s most important to them – do they need the flexibility that online training provides, or are they willing to spend a little bit more to invest in face-to-face training and the interaction that comes with it? It depends on what your goals are as a brand and company, but do not discount the advantages that face-to-face training can bring.

 

At Exenta, we recognize the value of face-to-face training and we support our new client implemenations with focused training for the users of our ERP, PLM REVO and Shop Floor Control solutions. In-person training is an important step in our seamless implementation experience and is part of the Exenta Difference, and our Proven Path™ Methodology, one of the reasons customers choose us 9 times more than other fashion technology partners.

 

Why Fashion Brands Need Smart Supply Chains

Why Fashion Brands Need Smart Supply Chains

One of the biggest challenges facing the retail and apparel industry is the need to catch up to, and succeed in, a wildly competitive market. As more and more brands begin to accelerate their processes and look for ways to bring about increased optimization and efficiency, it has become more critical than ever for supply chains to also work on improvements. Between the demand for transparency from consumers and the need to compete in a fast-paced market, it’s not surprising that apparel and retail companies have begun to focus on prioritizing and innovating their supply chains. Implementing new technology will be pivotal for most of these brands if they wish to stay afloat in our era of fast fashion.

An adaptable supply chain allows for far faster response times, allowing brands to pinpoint which products are selling and which products aren’t. If a certain piece is selling far more units than expected, a brand can pivot to immediately increase production of that particular unit, but traditional supply chains don’t accommodate this type of rapid-fire response, with turnaround times for reorders ranging from 10 to 25 weeks, by which time the window of opportunity is lost. So, it’s easy to see why a flexible supply chain is absolutely critical in delivering the correct products at the right time, and flexibility can only happen through the use of automated processes within the supply chain. Automated process can handle faster turnaround times and quicker responses, leading to more informed and accurate decisions, while also increasing efficiency at all levels of the company.

Faster supply chains also deliver greater visibility. A variety of software solutions are available for brands seeking to promote greater visibility within their supply chain and other processes. If a team has access to information across the entire company (design, production, and distribution), then they are well-informed about what is happening and what problems may arise, which all ties into flexibility and the ability to generate faster response times.

Problems can also be addressed as they appear in real-time if everyone has access to the same information, promoting greater collaboration between different departments and even with a company’s suppliers. It’s also important for companies to communicate with their entire supply chain – successful brands establish relationships with everyone in the supply chain, emphasizing communication and opening up dialogues. This leads to better working relationships and an ability to collaborate when it comes to solving problems within the supply chain. Both visibility and collaboration work hand-in-hand to increase efficiency and minimize problems such as mismanaged inventory. The supply chain of the future will promote and emphasize both flexibility and visibility, as both are needed in order to truly create and nurture well-optimized processes.

Visibility also leads to transparency, which is vital as the consumers of today become more conscientious and socially responsible. The fashion world has been plagued by tragedies, such as the Rana Plaza collapse; as a result, consumers are demanding a more ethical shift within the industry. With a fully transparent supply chain, consumers can rest assured that the products they are purchasing come from ethical and fair-trade companies, where workers are given the rights they deserve.

It’s not far-fetched to think that, one day, consumers could open an app on their phone and scan a product’s barcode and be able to see every step of its lifecycle. There are already brands that promote transparency and fair-trade practices, but smarter supply chains could make it easier for all brands to do so.

In all, it’s clear that the apparel industry is going through a transformation in response to an ever-evolving market. Faster, more efficient solutions are replacing previous standards within the industry as technology begins to weave its way into the retail and apparel worlds. As companies begin to focus on innovating their supply chains, they must remember that flexibility and visibility are key factors in building the supply chains of the future.