In her first piece for WhichPLM, Téa Liarokapi explores what PLM is doing to help with sustainability in Fashion. Téa is a content writer working for email marketing software company Moosend and an obsessive writer in general.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the act of managing a product throughout its lifecycle (as the name would suggest): from inception to manufacturing, distribution, and disposal. Therefore, PLM is an integral part of any industry, let alone the fashion industry, where new things are launched all the time.
As shown in the graph above, there is an increasing demand for sustainable products nowadays, and sustainable fashion is one of the biggest issues that can be resolved with PLM. PLM needs to – and should – be a staple in any marketing plan.
Why Sustainability with PLM?
Apart from being environmentally friendly, sustainability can be a powerful ally when it comes to reducing costs and keeping a business alive.
Long-term sustainability can create a stable environment for the employees and the business itself while preserving the planet and causing the least damage possible. This is why consumers, vendors, and large fashion companies nowadays go for products that are produced transparently. This is where PLM comes into play.
PLM software can ensure transparency when it comes to checking the supply chain. Using PLM is a great way for retail companies to find suppliers that work with eco-friendly, recycled fabrics, and materials.
Let’s go into some more detail.
PLM Can Help Track and Reduce Environmental Damage
Using a type of PLM software can help brands and retailers get a better, clearer view of the manufacturing process and how it can harm the environment and make costs go up.
Any type of clothing is produced in a specific way and has standards to meet, both when it comes to scoring a sale and when it comes to picking out the fabrics and design.
On the other hand, finding and tracking the best supply chain for a brand’s needs can be a very complicated process. PLM helps untangle this and make the process linear and easy to follow.Keeping track of the production process will create transparency when it comes to both the pieces of information the brand has for its garments and those the brand decides to share with its audience or include in its content calendar.
Keeping track can also reduce costs and help the brand meet its deadlines, as far as the release of new garments is concerned, providing a realistic for both the deadlines and the cost.
What does that mean for the environment? With PLM, business objectives can be clear and simply put. This enables designers, CEOs, and all employees to be on the same page.
Being on the same page means coming up with a strategic design of the marketing objectives and this strategic design means less cost and, in the end, less waste.
By allowing brands to pick the best materials and samples, PLM helps industrial waste reduction. That way, businesses can preserve the planet and create garments that will be well-made right off the bat and sustainable. But is that all?
PLM Helps Create Products with the Customer in Mind
Customer experience is one of the most important parameters one should keep in mind when producing any type of product. And since the fashion industry is one of the largest industries globally, they (need to) provide their customers with the optimal experience.
Customers ask for products that are trustworthy and can make a difference.
As you can see, climate change comes third in the issues consumers would like brands to take a stand on.
PLM technology can help fashion brands create and execute clear procedures and programs and, eventually, be true to the social responsibility of their brand. PLM will allow fashion brands to create and publish those procedures to the employees and suppliers alike.
That way, the consumers will know they’re purchasing from a brand that keeps true to its values and initiatives and, at the same time, preserves the environment.
Still, the question remains: How do brands get to decide on the type of products they’ll need to create and the deadlines they’ll have to meet?Their best shot is to study their data and check the competition and what their consumers have to say when it comes to selling through Amazon and other similar platforms or their own online store.
Sometimes, small acts like selling through a commerce platform can be very beneficial for a brand. Always listen to consumers and make data-driven, educated decisions.
PLM, Digital Production and the Changes to Come
No single garment in the fashion industry has gone on the shelf or in a customer’s closet without modification.This back-and-forth can prove to be a hassle and this is where PLM is needed, as it can digitize the process.
PLM solutions can help those involved exchange notes on the design of a piece of clothing, the adjustments that need to be made, and the materials that need to be used or included in a modification, all in a true digital, online way.
This process can be streamlined through PLM and can be finalized once everyone is happy with the garment, thus saving time, money, and materials to retailers.Fewer materials throughout the lifecycle, less cost, less waste, and less pollution when it comes to the production process.
But PLM may be the best tool to help you cut down on your expenses, from design to packaging costs, but what happens when a product hits the shelf?
That stage used to be the end game and where PLM technology stops. Today, we know that, when it comes to sustainable fashion, this is a claim that makes no sense as the product’s life doesn’t end when the product is in-store and ready to be sold.
With the increasing demand for second-hand and sustainable garments, PLM technology will soon be able to (and in some instances, does) cover that aspect as well, especially seeing as an increasing amount of people prefer to recycle their used garments.
Going forward, PLM technology will be able to track, trace, and make sure to notify the retailer on the number of garments returned, the number of garments able to be recycled, and the impact this will have on both the brand’s earnings and the environment itself.
PLM and sustainability are two things that can go hand in hand. PLM systems can meet the consumers’ increasing demand for sustainable products by tracking every step of the supply chain and helping retailers make educated changes.
As for brands, PLM systems are not always the be-all-end-all that your brand needs. Sustainability is a global demand, therefore, a brand will need to include this demand in its corporate values before investing in any type of PLM software.