Interview with Robert D’Loren & Paul Magel

Face2Face
Robert D’Loren & Paul Magel
Robert D’Loren & Paul Magel
Chairman and CEO & President-Business Applications & Technology Outsourcing Division respectively
Xcel Brands & CGS respectively
Xcel Brands & CGS respectively

Intelligent product and speed-to-market will drive supply chains

New York-based Xcel Brands that owns brands Isaac Mizrahi, Judith Ripka, Halston, C Wonder and Highline Collective in December 2018 selected CGS's BlueCherry Enterprise Suite of cloud-based solutions to streamline processes and technology to meet ever-changing consumer demand, increase market share and improve revenue. Robert D'Loren and Paul Magel speak to Fibre2Fashion about latest PLM integrations, disruptions in the apparel supply chain and AI being necessity in future.

2018 was a tough year for apparel and footwear businesses globally. What is driving these apparel and footwear brands in 2019 and what is their focus in terms of IT solutions going forward?

Robert D'Loren (RL): It is becoming increasingly important for go-to-market strategies in apparel and jewellery. Incorporating technologies such as 3D design and consumer insight testing coupled with trend analytics enables merchants to better give customers what they want, when they want it. Fully integrated PLM and ERP systems can enhance transparency and speed to market; thereby, closing this go-to-market loop.

How long does it take on an average for large and medium enterprises for ERP and PLM systems to start delivering benefits once the investment is made?

Paul Magel (PM): The benefits are reaped as soon as the process starts, which is at the selection of an ERP and PLM solution. In the process of evaluating vendors, the company documents its current business process and workflows, and identifies gaps in the business that can be optimised. Modern ERP and PLM solutions provide the functionality needed to meet today's demands for supply chain visibility and speed. For example, by selecting a fully integrated ERP and PLM solution, companies can expect to remove repetitive processes in data entry, enable more cross-department collaboration across teams, and accelerate the speed from design to shipment. In addition, when working with a vendor during the selection, companies can take advantage of the best practices and industry knowledge that the vendor and client base provides, which is why it is very valuable for a brand or manufacturer to select a vendor that has deep domain expertise in the apparel, fashion and footwear industry. By preparing and setting up in anticipation of the implementation, the company will begin to tighten and document processes, articulate goals and projects and immediately reap benefits. This will continue through implementation of the software and beyond.

Which are your major markets for ERP, PLM, business intelligence solutions?

PM: The CGS BlueCherry suite of solutions has been a leader in supply chain solutions for the fashion, apparel and footwear industry for more than 30 years. With the changing retail landscape, we see growth and opportunities with private label manufacturing, digitally native brands and traditional retail companies expanding into multiple channels.

What kinds of disruptions in apparel retail and supply chains can the new age PLM accommodate?

RL: There are two primary drivers of a successful go-to-market strategy looking forward. First, designing intelligent product. Second, speed to market. Achieving these two goals is not possible without leveraging advanced technologies.

PM: In the apparel supply chain, PLM has traditionally been more centered around creating a tech pack and product data management (PDM). Now with full project lifecycle and an expanded footprint, we see a shift in PLM to include more tools/features that include social media, AI, storyboard, mobile and AR.   

Do you plan to integrate blockchain into the PLM too?

PM: While blockchain shows a lot of promise and-not just for PLM-there are some major challenges to overcome before large-scale adoption. We are following the blockchain tech and evaluating it across our suite of products to adopt it in a way that is most efficient for CGS and its BlueCherry users. We believe that blockchain can make current processes more efficient and transparent-EDI for example would be a great technology to track. Blockchain also holds promise of brand-new applications that were not available before. While blockchain could be helpful in tracking every step in the apparel manufacturing process, it hasn't reached enough widespread acceptance to realise the benefits. For blockchain to truly work effectively, every participant in the supply chain must post data to the blockchain ledger. We will continue to keep an eye on blockchain technology and what it can provide and implement it in point solutions with specific benefits.

What are vendors and fashion companies looking for in terms of IT solutions?

PM: Our customers and the market are looking for digitalisation of the supply chain. With visibility and access to data in supply chain, customers can make more intelligent, on-the-spot decisions as they need to evolve according to their customers' needs.

A lot of big players have a digitised supply chain. What about small companies and fashion start-ups? Do you see the rate of adoption increasing there?

PM: Small or large-it is not nice to have, it is necessary. Current open and closed technology can scale and is accessible to companies of all size. We believe rate of adoption will continue to increase for businesses to survive in today's market.

The use of VR and AR is growing in product designing across all industries. What does CGS offer in this regard?

PM: Our annual BlueCherry Insight user conference will be held this spring, and we will announce some new exciting innovations in this area within the BlueCherry suite.

As a tech company, if we were to ask you to do some crystal ball gazing how do you see more revolutionary technology changing the fashion industry, beginning at the supply chain level?

PM: Manufacturers have realised the efficiencies and cost savings of automating processes using technologies such as robotics and increasing visibility by digitalising the supply chain down to the sewer. Expect more fashion apparel wholesalers, manufacturers and distributors to get on board in the coming year. While some companies have dabbled with robotics technology, AI and automation, next year we'll see many more applying these technologies in their supply chain. With global regulatory concerns and increased pressure to expedite time to market and the need for more visibility and data, human labour alone can't handle the demand and causing AI to become a necessity.

What are the long-term goals at Xcel Brands and CGS?

RL: To give our customers what they want, when they want it at a fair price. 
PM: Remain at the forefront, from the technology standpoint, and continue to adapt to the rapidly changing industry, satisfying fundamental needs of our clients. (HO)

Published on: 15/02/2019

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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