The fashion business has always been an intense race. Who will be first to spot the next trend? Who will be first to get it to market? Who will catch the next big wave? Who can ride it out most profitably? But now the pressure to perform is even higher. Fashion, apparel and consumer products retailers and brand owners are trying to execute in more frequent, abbreviated cycles.
As a PLM [product life cycle management] approach and technology platform, “connected PLM” is a solution for coping and competing amid the move toward season-less fashion deliveries and demand for greater product personalization. A connected PLM strategy draws from disparate systems and sources to unlock valuable insights that keep retailers on trend, on time and on budget.
Connected PLM touches myriad aspects of the concept-to-consumer cycle. Fashion retailers are “linking this value chain from the creative ideation worlds all the way to 3-D virtual prototyping through the manufacturing process and then retailing,” says Mark Harrop, managing director at WhichPLM, the independent digital magazine and advisory service.
Let’s explore the plan-and-create stage of that cycle first with these seven ways to use connected PLM:
- Make PLM the home of all product information, from sketches to patterns to fabrics and trims.
- Systematically capture data from outside sources to sense and respond to real-time trends reflecting the consumer’s voice. These sources can include social media, entertainment red carpet reports, the fashion press — anywhere there is buzz that can be quantified into trends about colors, hemlines, any style preferences.
- Use 3-D virtual sampling for rapid prototyping and consumer testing.
- Capture and analyze consumer feedback from both traditional focus groups and digital forums.
- Use augmented reality and virtual reality to visualize new styles before samples are ever made and enhance visual merchandise plans for stores.
- Implement AR to conduct quality checks, overlaying digital holograms of target specifications over physical samples.
- Leverage real-time consumer feedback from the retail dressing room and point-of-sale register to activate quick-turn replenishment, make course corrections and gain actionable insights for ongoing development.
Adding any one of these seven action items to your plan-and-create processes can accelerate the creative process. “One of the biggest ways fashion businesses can leverage PLM to react to trends is clearly to use it to help reduce time to market,” says Sonia Parekh, senior manager, retail, with consulting firm Kalypso.
They also can inspire and inform the creative process for optimal sales and brand building.
LaCrystal Robinson is a product marketing specialist at PTC. To read Part 1 of the Connected PLM Series, click HERE and learn how you can leverage connected PLM to develop trend-driven fashion.
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