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NRF Conversations – Colin Marks of DeSL


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In the sixth in our ongoing series of exclusive vendor interviews from NRF 2013, our Editor talks to Colin Marks, Director at DeSL, about how he feels the industry has changed over the past year, and how his company is preparing for its future.

Ben Hanson: How has the last calendar year been for DeSL?  Did you have any particular priorities for the year, release any notable software revisions or expand into any new territories?

Colin Marks: For DeSL, 2012 has been one of the most successful years in the Company’s history and has provided a strong platform for further growth in 2013 and beyond. Firstly, net new customer acquisition with companies such as New York based A. H. Schreiber, Colorado based Elope and most recently with one of North America’s most recognised women’s wear brands, which we are hoping to announce publicly in the next few weeks. We also managed to penetrate into the Turkish market with a very high profile retailer, Colin’s. They are one of the largest retailers in Turkey/Eastern Europe and implemented our PLM & SRM solutions integrated to Microsoft Dynamics AX Retail. All of our new customer wins were accomplished through a highly competitive vendor evaluation process and it is testament to our solutions that DeSL was selected.

Another priority was ensuring successful go-lives with some of our existing customers, which I’m pleased to say was also achieved. We are one of the few global PLM vendors that can achieve a successful go live on a significant sized project within 60 days – which is what we achieved with Nautica (part of the VF Corp).

Continuous product development is integral to our success. For example our Adobe Illustrator Integrator, and I state this with a high degree of confidence that it is the most advanced in the market place today. Since its launch over 12 months ago, we now have over 2,000 users which is an incredible take-up within such a short space of time. Equally our latest iPad and Android Apps has met with huge customer excitement helping to improve the sales process and manage the increasingly important ethical compliance issues.

[quote]Retailers have no option but to embrace mobile technology to help them engage with their customers.[/quote]

BH: With NRF being a retail-focused show, what do you see as PLM’s role here?  Obviously it has many points of interface (mobile applications, marketing, performance information) to the retail process as well as product development.  Do you see PLM underpinning much of what’s shown at events like this?

CM: There are many headlining topics which were covered at NRF for example mobile applications, multi-channel retailing etc, and sometimes PLM can be overlooked. However, if you ask most companies, they will rate issues such as sourcing, production/development and managing their whole product data as hugely important.

To have a single version of intelligent data, across the whole supply chain and accessible to designers, suppliers, sourcing departments and operations is absolutely essential. It may not often achieve headline status on the agenda, but PLM is integral to addressing key business issues which reflect our own company branding of “Design it – Source it – Sell it.” Look no further than the recent Apparel and Gartner “Top Technology Trends Report” which states that supply chain planning is the application area greatest area of concern for 2013. So, it may not be the top of the list at NRF, but it certainly is at the top of the priority list for apparel executives.

We also implemented our solutions at major retailers recently such as Men’s Wearhouse in USA who have over 1200 stores in North America and Colin’s Turkey who have 670 stores in 32 countries. We are fast becoming a natural choice for all aspects of the fashion supply chain ,i.e. Retail, Wholesale and Manufacturing companies.

[quote]Continuous product development is integral to our success.[/quote]

BH: Both from what you’ve noticed here at NRF and from your wider experience, what do you see as the biggest emerging trends for 2013?

CM: Without a doubt, we will see further advancements in mobile technology – everything from e-commerce, assortment replenishment to PoS. Quite simply the traditional “path to purchase” is no longer relevant and has been replaced by a more complex environment. Many clothing companies will tell you it’s a challenging market – decreasing footfall and slow growth in revenues. Retailers have no option but to embrace mobile technology to help them engage with their customers. Use of mobile technology has the power to inform consumers prior to the purchase, actually make the purchase and drive behaviour once they actually enter the store. It will be interesting to see which retailers set the benchmark and learn to do it particularly well in the coming years.

BH: And what are DeSL’s specific plans for the coming year?

CM: Last year has provided a great platform for our activities in 2013. We will continue to invest in further product development to ensure our solutions meet the needs of our global customers. As a company, we have also invested in a new team across support, development, marketing and sales functions and this is certainly having an impact on our success and growth. I would also like to see us engage in some strategic partnerships which will help us grow the DeSL footprint geographically and into new accounts.

Ben Hanson Ben Hanson is one of WhichPLM’s top contributors. Ben has worked for magazines, newspapers, local government agencies, multi-million pound conservation projects, museums and creative publications before his eventual migration to the Retail, Footwear and Apparel industry.Having previously served as WhichPLM’s Editor, Ben knows the WhichPLM style, and has been responsible for many of our on-the-ground reports and interviews over the last few years. With a background in literature, marketing and communications, Ben has more than a decade’s worth of experience, and is now viewed as one of the industry’s best-known writers.