In 2019, the fashion industry was barreling forward into fast fashion and seasonless shopping. Suddenly, everything was put on pause, including consumers’ desire for new clothes. Layoffs and stay at home orders forced people inside with nowhere to go and no reason to shop. On March 16, 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.9%, and trading was temporarily halted. “Among those hit hardest by the decline were G-III Apparel Group (down 27.1 percent to $11.07), Capri Holdings (down 26.2 percent to $10.29), RealReal Inc. (down 19.3 percent to $7.02), Tapestry Inc. (down 19.3 percent to $13.10) and Nordstrom Inc. (down 17 percent to $17.93)”. Retail sales fell nearly 9%, with clothing sales dropping by over half, as stated by the Census Bureau in April. According to The New York Times, this was the largest drop in one month for retail since the 2008 financial crisis.
In April, apparel sales were down nearly 60% from 2019. The future of fashion was looking dim, and industry leaders recognized that drastic changes needed to be made across the supply chain in order to survive.
A Fashion Industry Overhaul
The coronavirus pandemic has forced consumer buying habits to change, and according to a study by The Nines, apparel categories such as sweatshirts and pullovers accounted for $112.4 billion in sales in 2021. Comparatively, blazers made only $36.4 billion in sales in the same year. While there is no question there has been a considerable surge in demand for comfortable clothes, it has not been enough to make up for the damage the pandemic has done to the fashion industry and global economy. What retailers and manufacturers are now beginning to focus on is the change happening with how and where consumers shop. How we buy has become a major focus for fashion manufacturing companies looking to stay ahead and survive the effects of the pandemic, as 40% of all sales will soon be digital, according to Anita Balchandani for McKinsey & Company. The industry was already on the fast track to e-commerce and supply chain digitalization, but the events of 2020 have given companies a bigger push. With a majority of people around the world working from home, online shopping sales skyrocketed, and the industry’s digital reliance grew. Now, retailers and manufacturers are seeing the benefits of a more digital supply chain, including reduction in overproduction and overhead costs, increased efficiency, accuracy and overall communication and collaboration across the supply chain.
Overproduction is not a new issue for the fashion industry, but with the recent push to digitalization and consumers’ pressure to be more sustainable, companies are needing to address these issues to stay in business.
Quality Over Quantity
According to a 2020 Forbes article, overproduction in the fashion industry typically runs between 30% and 40% each season. While the business as a whole has over $2 trillion in global annual revenues, it has become imperative for fashion manufacturing companies to streamline productions and reduce costs in order to survive. Not only is overproduction costly, it is not sustainable. The pandemic highlighted just how bad the fashion industry-specifically fast fashion and a seasonless production schedule-is for the environment, and consumers have begun pushing brands to reduce their carbon footprint.
So what is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion refers to apparel that is designed and produced using practices that are environmentally friendly. Brands that practice sustainability in their supply chains understand that the materials they use and how the produce their garments matter. Consumers have started pushing for industry leaders to reduce their carbon footprints, resulting in many companies making environmental pledges, changing their fabric sourcing, using more organic materials, and more.
Navigating the new retail world: The Less is More Approach
One way that is growing in popularity for brands to improve their sustainability is a reduction in product. The industry is realizing that more merchandise does not necessarily increase profits. Companies are beginning to reduce inventory levels with a more integrated, digital system. Designers are producing more slimmed down fashion collections, and designers such as Jacquemus have done two seasonal fashion show collections instead of four, each including both menswear and womenswear together.
While this is a step in the right direction, becoming more sustainable can be costly to fashion companies. They need a solution that allows for cutting costs and increasing efficiency while being able to keep their doors open. Reducing consumption and production is imperative if businesses want to become more sustainable, but how can this be done while retaining their bottom line? The answer may be on-demand manufacturing, also called made to order fashion. On-demand manufacturing in the fashion industry is a method of production where garments are manufactured only when they are ordered. Retailers will not order garments seasons in advance, but rather wait until the customer directly places the order. Traditionally, the industry has used wholesale manufacturing, where bulk orders are placed weeks or months in advance. While this model has worked for years and still works for some companies, it can result in large amounts of dead stock, waste, and overhead costs. “According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, US landfills received 11.3 million tons of MSW textiles in 2018.” With the growth in e-commerce, the on-demand manufacturing model is one way to reduce costs and support a more digital supply chain. To support on-demand manufacturing and e-commerce, fashion manufacturing companies need an advanced, integrated software system.
Strong fashion manufacturing software is essential to on-demand manufacturing and drop shipping. All parties involved in the product supply chain need accurate, up to date inventory and sales data to make the right decisions and avoid waste.
The Exenta Approach
In the new era of e-commerce and digital supply chains, it is important for businesses to have a strong back-end system like an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or EDI. 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. Exenta ERP automates tracking and reporting—leading to as much as a 20% reduction in administrative labor hours.
EDI enables two companies to exchange information instantly about orders, payments, inventory, shipments, production orders, and more. With Exenta EDI, fashion apparel brands benefit from a fast pipeline of timely, mission-critical information about production, inventory, warehouse logistics and retail, while reducing error-prone data entry. In addition to enhancing visibility while reducing costs, brands that leverage EDI in supply chain management position themselves to do business with the world’s largest retailers and e-commerce platforms, many of whom require EDI as their standard for information exchange.
2021 has become a transformative year for fashion. The pandemic became a major disruptor for the industry, forcing retailers, wholesalers, and designers alike to take a step back and see what was necessary to uphold brand longevity and their bottom lines. Sustainability and digitalization, once trends, have now become the future of the fashion industry. See how innovative, state-of-the-art supply chain software can help your company thrive in the future, request a demo today.
Digitally-native brands are taking a bigger share of the retail apparel market. As more consumers shifted shopping preferences in favor of e-commerce during the pandemic, many smaller brands with exclusively online channels experienced an uptick in sales. Smaller, digitally-native brands were also more nimble and in some cases were better able to shift production and inventory to meet the changes in demand driven by the pandemic. Now that consumer demand is moving closer to pre-pandemic levels, many consumers have indicated a preference to stick with online retailers and smaller, niche brands need to consider how they will scale operations to compete. Technology can provide these smaller retailers with the ability to meet consumer expectations and keep pace with the demands of the marketplace.
Now more than ever, apparel companies need the efficiencies delivered through apparel management software systems to operate profitably. Inventory and order management software can save smaller brands valuable time. If a brand is lean in back office staff, an ERP solution can take the place of added headcount while simultaneously delivering many other benefits.
When smaller apparel companies decide to take the plunge towards digitalization, they are often faced with some difficult, and potentially costly, decisions. To experience the full benefits of integrated apparel software, companies need to choose the right software for them, and for smaller companies, the right system is one that fits the company’s needs not just today, but also in the future. Many apparel management software solutions do not offer flexibility or scalability, both of which are necessary for small apparel companies who wish to grow.
What apparel software works best for a small business?
An apparel production company may already be using a system that worked for them at the time of implementation, but they have since grown and the system is no longer scalable. It is important for a company to have a system that can grow with them to avoid reinvestment or additional costly add-ons. The right apparel software can deliver great results with for both large and small apparel businesses.
Exenta has considerable expertise in supporting smaller apparel businesses. Brands with fewer than 30 employees have implemented Exenta apparel software and experienced great gains in efficiency and visibility. Some of our small apparel business clients implemented Exenta software with just 5 users, and have grown over time, adding users and expanding inventory, all while continuing to use the same system that was initially implemented with no need for add-ons.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software makes it easier to manage apparel business processes for products that are being designed, manufactured, or sold. Exceptional ERP software is essential for companies wanting to streamline processes and manage costs. Exenta’s apparel industry-specific ERP delivers the most advanced technology in the apparel ERP space and does not require additional plug-ins for the initial system after integration, no matter the company size. For many small apparel businesses, e-commerce platforms are an essential part of success and efficiency. Exenta ERP provides end-to-end support for most e-commerce systems, making integration easy and cost-effective, even as the organization’s needs expand and adapt over time.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is another apparel management solution that can deliver great benefits to small apparel businesses. Exenta PLM REVO initiates an efficient path from concept to consumer by eliminating tedious data entry and automating many time-consuming aspects of the design and processes. Because PLM solutions help smaller apparel companies accelerate products to market faster, they provide the opportunity for a smaller business to keep up with competition (often companies with more workers and larger budgets) while retaining their bottom line. Exenta’s cloud-based PLM REVO has a minimal upfront investment and can be implemented quickly, so that a small apparel business can begin experiencing the benefits in weeks, not months.
Shopfloor control (also known as manufacturing execution or MES) software provides unparalleled production data, allowing smaller apparel manufacturers better control over the manufacturing process, to eliminate waste and inefficiency. Exenta Shopfloor Control is ideally suited for small apparel manufacturers because it is not IT intensive and requires low technical investment, while still tracking, scheduling and reporting on the progress of everything from manufacturing and assembling to product processing. Exenta’s apparel manufacturing software delivers a record-fast return on investment.
A small business needs an apparel software company that can be a trusted partner. Exenta software solutions provide the support, flexibility, scalability, and data access small apparel businesses need to grow while keeping their bottom line and increasing efficiency.
Learn more by requesting a demo today.
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!