The wholesale divisions of Izod, Calvin Klein and Timberland, brands and licenses of Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., communicate more easily thanks to assortment planning software from 7thOnline.

This story first appeared in the March 11, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Account executives can sit down with buyers in the showroom during market time and create and tweak orders on the spot. When the meeting is over, the order is printed out for the buyer and also e-mailed so the buyer leaves with a very clear picture of what she asked for and what the order looks like. When the buyer approves the order, usually a week later, the order is entered into the system automatically.

PVH started using the software in September 2007 to work on the spring and summer 2008 markets. Previously, orders were written on pieces of paper in the showroom and later reformatted back at the office on individual Excel spreadsheets. Once an order was accepted, the customer service team would rekey it into the company’s customer service system.

“The time spent was incredible,” said Cheryl Dapolito, president of Izod and Timberland Sportswear. “It left us open to quite a lot of inefficiencies and inaccuracies.”

Now dozens of people on the system can see orders 24 hours a day, since the software is Web-based. When a style is dropped or a color is added, the changes automatically update throughout the system.

The design team enters the initial information about style and color. Then the merchandising or planning team creates a preliminary assortment plan. The account executives use it to guide customers.

The new software has shaved perhaps a week off the production cycle and freed up customer service to do more important tasks. “What it’s given us is the best communication between planning, sales and merchandising,” she said. “It’s closed the loop. And it’s standardized processes across divisions, so every division speaks the same way, which is a tremendous benefit for us in corporate. And the reduction in errors and manual [rekeying] is incredible.”

The company is able to place production buys earlier and loses fewer sales when a style is dropped since substitutions are able to happen more quickly. The software has also helped the New York-based company communicate more easily and quickly with its overseas vendors about orders and changes.