The COVID-19 pandemic exposed a lot of inefficiencies in the supply chain — especially in sourcing and product development. Brands also struggled to meet shifting consumer demands, which put a spotlight on the need for upgrading PLM, or product lifecycle management, and supply chain management software and platforms.
The disruption from the pandemic also revealed the need for greater visibility across the entire value chain.
Paul Magel, president of business applications and technology outsourcing division at CGS, said as consumer goods companies “continue to be tested by the pandemic and the economic fallout, it has become abundantly clear that companies need to minimize disruptions and are seeking technology to seamlessly move products from concept to digital storefronts.”
Which is the impetus behind the launch of BlueCherry Next, a supply chain management platform from enterprise solution CGS. BlueCherry Next builds on the company’s previous BlueCherry solution, with a new digital-first focus on visibility into the supply chain. It was designed specifically for consumer goods brands, with the ability to handle the complex variety of stockkeeping units associated with apparel and footwear.
“Global retailer, wholesaler and consumer brand supply chains demand greater collaboration to maintain business continuity and remain agile in the face of risk,” the company noted about BlueCherry Next. “Consumers are demanding a new agenda for transparency and sustainability. All of these changes require a blended, omnichannel approach and a new standard for digital engagement and distribution.”
For fashion apparel and footwear, the platform is designed to address the complexities of product development specific to the industry. Magel explained that a “horizontal software solution that tries to serve too many industries can become complex and requires a number of either modifications or third-party add-ins to meet the current demands of these markets. Specifically for apparel and footwear, BlueCherry Next was designed from the ground up with the complexity of those sectors in mind.”
The Next platform will first launch its product lifecycle management solution, which is designed to be used by brands, retailers and manufacturers. There is an emphasis on accessibility; BlueCherry Next can be used from any device, with no need for a specific software application or download.
There is also an emphasis on making the software applicable for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer purposes, with the 3-D functionality being one example of this. Digital, 3-D renderings of products have been adopted at many companies in the footwear industry, for example, due to the ability to reduce the need for physical prototyping and to improve the accuracy of designs shared with manufacturers.
Through the BlueCherry Next platform, brand users can upload and share their 3-D renders with their chosen supply chain partners at the manufacturing level. These approved 3-D assets can then be passed on to any retail partners within the same platform, for use in wholesale buying and eventually for e-commerce. This is representative of CGS’s broader efforts to integrate b-to-b and b-to-c relationship management into one place.
“As the business world evolves, large pre-season buys are the thing of the past — agility and rapidly meeting consumer demands are of utmost importance,” Magel said. “The platform needs to be able to connect with consumer sales data; efficiently handle both wholesale and e-commerce business models; and be able to natively handle product information, along with 3-D images, for both product development and to push to consumer e-commerce sites.”