The way business processes work in this industry is in a flux. Two IT-related solutions-enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product lifecycle management (PLM)-lie at the core of such processes. We take a look at trends in the ERP / PLM ecosystem through the eyes of leading experts in the twin fields.

Business processes in every industry sector are unique. Technology is changing the way these business processes crystallise, mutate and are reborn again to keep pace with everything else in that industry sector. But each industry has its own singularities and needs. This demonstrably poses challenges to tackle which the textiles-apparel fashion industry needs to look outwards.

Challenges Galore

The biggest challenge, according to Kate Munro, vice-president for marketing at Bamboo Rose, is the pace of change of the competitive landscape-be it online competition, fast-moving trends or viral brands that can significantly impact year-on-year performance. "Successful organisations look to connect not only their end-to-end process but embrace the entire community to capture design input and direction as well as streamline processes and then leverage their unique expertise in material and product design, production capabilities or distribution networks to create differential product and service offerings. Fully connected communities that can respond to market conditions in a rapid and flexible way have the best chance to make the most of emerging opportunities.

Peter Charness, vice-president for merchandise lifecycle management at Aptos, underscores, "While all retailers face a sea change of functional needs to take care of 'see it, want it, buy it, anywhere and everywhere' omnichannel shoppers, retailers in apparel and fashion have to deal with all the changes that are taking place online and in-store, and also deal with improving their capabilities that surround the design, build and delivery aspects of the supply chain. All in all, the breadth of technology and complex functionality required for apparel and fashion brand retailers is more extensive than that faced by a retailer who just buys market finished goods."

This brings one to data. Mark Burstein, president of NGC, says, "Retailers rely on massive amounts of data to run supply chains. They must manage details of product design, sourcing, compliance, product testing, supply chain execution and much more for thousands of SKUs simultaneously. They must also react to changing demand signals, fashion trends, weather patterns, sales data, production delays and many other variables-and they're required to do it faster and faster."

Therefore, companies are under pressure to put exciting products in front of consumers faster than ever and failing to do so can have a huge effect on the bottomline. Points out Lisa Jarry, global content director at Centric, "There is pressure for every SKU to be profitable and a bad / late product can have a big impact on not just product profitability, but also on reputation. All brands, no matter what their size, benefit from implementing digital solutions to manage their product development."