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How to Use ERP Software in the Apparel Industry

How to Use ERP Software in the Apparel Industry

While apparel ERP software has become commonplace in the fashion and soft goods industries, many companies do not know the proper way to set up and use such a complex and dynamic system. Utilizing an ERP software system has many benefits including automating critical processes, improving financial controls, boosting productivity and efficiency, and increasing collaboration among parties along the supply chain. According to Aberdeen Group, “ERP systems that provide accurate, real-time information about daily operations help companies reduce operational costs by 23% and administration costs by 22%”. Implementing a fashion ERP system can be tedious and time consuming, but doing it correctly will be highly rewarding for a company in the future.

Reviewing Your Business Processes and Defining Scope of Implementation

Before implementing a fashion ERP solution, it is crucial to review the processes a business goes through daily that make up a product lifecycle. Most companies have a variation of these core systems: Customer Acquisition (Sales), Product Delivery, Product Development/Manufacturing and Accounting. How can these processes be improved? What goals does a company wish to achieve once an ERP system is implemented? It is critical to look at each core process of the business and see how an ERP system for the fashion industry will improve them. From there, a business can define the implementation scope: What will be affected? How long will it take? What is going to change? Each ERP implementation project is unique, and a detailed, research-based approach will ensure successful implementation.

Investing in Training

To avoid the many risks associated with the application of an ERP system, training is a critical step in the process. Functional training should be arranged for all users, both before implementation and during. A flexible and dynamic ERP system has consistent updates and advances, and a good ERP company provides consistent training during the entire implementation process, all system updates, and beyond. This helps avoid any major operational disruptions after go-live.

Exenta delivers 24/7 service to over 50,000 customers in 15 countries worldwide. Exenta ensures security, flexibility and increased control of a business’s total cost of ownership. With Exenta apparel manufacturing ERP software, companies don’t have to worry about a fashion management plug-in disappearing or a shift in development that may cause a speed bump in their unique operations, and will only deal with Exenta products and team when there is an inquiry.

Focusing on Data Quality and Migration

One continuing benefit to a strong ERP system is accurate, real-time data collection.Prior to implementation, a company should remove any outdated or inaccurate data from their existing system, such as supplier data, customer data, accounts history, etc., and confirm the remaining data is accurate.

Customizing and Integrating your ERP Platform

Customizing an ERP solution refers to the act of altering the system in different capacities to meet a company’s specific needs or requirements. Many garment manufacturing ERP software solutions allow very little customization. Most companies need customization to achieve the goals they set before implementation. Some examples of customization include adding new features, modifying existing ones, and/or configuration of the existing system to support other solutions (such as PLM, Shopfloor Control, EDI) or other third-party functions. With Exenta, ERP can be configured with multiple other systems to create a cutting-edge digital supply chain.

“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.”

-Carrie Bovender, CEO and Owner, Grand Forest

ERP software solutions are the future of the fashion and soft goods industries. To keep up with demand and changing consumer behavior, it is essential to have an integrated digital supply chain, and ERP is the backbone. Exenta’s industry-specific fashion ERP system software supports apparel management businesses by making it easy to manage business processes for products designed, manufactured or sold. The Exenta fashion ERP system is supported by a skilled staff, ensuring every customer has one point of contact for any issue, backed by the Exenta team’s deep expertise — guaranteed to resolve any issue quickly.

We see every inquiry through to a satisfactory conclusion. See what the right ERP system can do for your business, and what being an Exenta parter means. Request a demo today.

What is ERP Software?

What is ERP Software?

What is ERP software?

ERP software is not new to the manufacturing industry. However, fashion companies are beginning to see more and more advantages to adopting this cutting-edge system and further digitalizing their supply chains. A system is defined as a set of elements that work or interact together as one unified structure or whole. A system is typically comprised of people, technology, and various processes that are all highly integrated. So what are ERP systems? While ERP is a software solution, it is also a system, as it combines software (technology), the different processes involved in a product lifecycle, and the people that work in these processes.

So what is ERP/enterprise resource planning software solution? Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is a streamlined digital solution that organizes and manages all activities involved in a product lifecycle. Businesses use ERP software to collect data in all facets of their supply chain operations to make more accurate and knowledgeable business decisions. By tying different supply chain processes and elements together into one solution, the system can provide a centralized collaborative platform for all parties involved in the product lifecycle to use.

With the rise in e-commerce and drop-shipping in the fashion industry, accurate data is essential for survival. Companies need an ERP system to avoid overproduction, inaccurate trend forecasting, stale data usage and more. According to a TEC Software study, nearly 50% of companies surveyed have an ERP system or are planning to acquire one.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the advantages of an ERP system?

While implementing an ERP system provides accurate data to help avoid a surplus of product and imprecise forecasting, the benefits go on. Some of the many advantages of an ERP include:

Increased Operational Efficiency

-Increased Inventory Accuracy

-Improved Visibility and Service

-Reduction in Chargebacks

-Master Omnichannel Fulfillment

-Enhanced Collaboration

-Automation of Critical Processes across the supply chain

What are some challenges companies face when acquiring ERP software?

-Scalability: Some ERP systems do not have the ability to change in size or scale with a business. Without a scalable solution, companies must purchase add-on software in the future, or reinvest in a new solution altogether.

-Integration: The wrong ERP solution cannot integrate new applications or systems into the original solution. Companies need an ERP system that can integrate seamlessly with other systems to create a digital supply chain and one collaborative platform.

-Flexibility: Having an ERP that can integrate with other systems and can scale with a business creates a more flexible overall system. Without flexibility, the ERP system may not be able to adapt with the company to fit new needs or embrace challenges in the future. 

It is important that an ERP solution can scale with the company. Implementation and integration of an ERP system is “like open heart surgery” for a business, says Exenta CEO Roberto Mangual. Once this complex and advanced system is integrated into all business processes, it needs to be able to scale with the company in the future.

How to use ERP software?

While there are many benefits to adopting an ERP solution, it is important to learn how to use it before it is fully implemented. This helps avoid issues with integration and flexibility. An ERP system is a major investment, and when utilized correctly, it can completely transform a business. Prior to implementation, it is important for a company to review all business processes and solidify what areas need improvement. Another important step in the ERP implementation process is investing in training. A good software company will partner with you and assist you every step of the way before, during and after implementation to avoid any potential issues or bumps in the road. Advanced software systems come with learning curves, and the right company will be there to train and assist as needed, as well as train users on any software updates in the future.

The right ERP for your business

Exenta has highly trained experts armed with application and industry expertise to deliver rapid responses and support resolutions seamlessly. Exenta’s enterprise management systems and staff’s leading-edge technological expertise simplify and optimize IT across business systems and processes. Exenta provides professional consulting and support solutions for Exenta ERP, SHOPFLOOR REVO and PLM REVO, and helps clients navigate technology issues, implement best practices across business functions and stay informed on fashion software trends.

In contrast to big box ERP systems that requires complex customization and integration, Exenta ERP is an industry-focused enterprise solution that manages the entire business and supply chain by spanning traditional software categories. A strong ERP solution with automated and advanced tracking and reporting can deliver to as much as a 20% reduction in administrative labor hours. Exenta has built the most modern, advanced technology in the apparel ERP space, and once implemented, it continues to scale and adapt with your business.

At Exenta, our customers are our partners. Exenta ERP is scalable, flexible, and can integrate with other software solutions, helping you build a dynamic supply chain that will stand the test of time.  See how Exenta ERP can transform your supply chain here.

Why the Pandemic Has Fashion Brands Creating Smaller Collections- With Better Results

Why the Pandemic Has Fashion Brands Creating Smaller Collections- With Better Results

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. 

The Best Apparel Software for Small Businesses

The Best Apparel Software for Small Businesses

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.

Learn How Modern PLM Tools Can Take Your Fashion Brand to the Next Level

Learn How Modern PLM Tools Can Take Your Fashion Brand to the Next Level

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


– 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.  

Understanding Manufacturing Execution Systems in Relation to the Fashion Industry

Understanding Manufacturing Execution Systems in Relation to the Fashion Industry

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
  • Scheduling
  • 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.