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NEW YORK — Technology is playing a major role in reducing expenses for manufacturers.
While the start-up costs can run into tens of thousands of dollars, makers say long-term savings and gains in operating efficiencies more than compensate for the initial expense.
Glenn Schlossberg, principal of Jump Apparel Inc., a maker of junior, misses’ and large-size social-occasion dresses, said buying via information-management systems is revolutionizing the way stores and manufacturers interact and making for a more efficient, cost-effective operation.
About eight months ago, Schlossberg and his brother, Craig, developed a software program that can detail all aspects of inventory control in seconds. The system provides the firm’s salespeople with information on how many units of every style in Jump’s collection are available in the warehouse, how many are out at stores and the availability of all colors and style variations, like a sequined collar or spaghetti straps.
The Schlossbergs enhanced the system with a digital camera that takes a photo of a dress and stores the image in memory. There is no film or disc. A cable connects the camera to the desktop computer, which prints a photo of the dress on a color printer.
The Schlossbergs programmed the system to store the images in a permanent database. A color illustration can be sent overnight, or faxed to the client.
“This has cut my photo-processing costs to zero,” Schlossberg said. “Today, every buyer wants a picture of the garment. I was spending a fortune developing prints to send to buyers. The computer-generated picture is not quite as sharp as 35mm, although it approaches that quality. It’s far better than a Polaroid. And all it costs is a sheet of paper.”
Another advantage of the system is that he can change styles on the computer screen — add a sleeve to a strapless dress, for example — and the computer figures out how much more the garment will cost.
Many stores — from big, out-of-town players like May Department Stores Co. and Dillard Department Stores to smaller boutiques — have curtailed or eliminated buying trips to New York, Schlossberg said; his system allows them to see precisely what a dress looks like, and place orders without leaving their offices.
“My salespeople know exactly what’s available, and the buyers know my fabrics, so they know what they’re getting,” he said. “If there’s a new fabric on the line, we’ll send a swatch overnight.”