In the first in a series of guest blogs, Lectra discusses how the emergence of hybrid business models is changing the fashion business landscape. This instalment emphasises the importance of team alignment and supplier collaboration when it comes to mastering end-to-end product lifecycles.
Part 1: The emergence of hybrid business models: collaboration is key
Until recently, three business models have dominated the fashion and apparel industry: brand, retailer, and manufacturer. But these traditional models are being increasingly challenged by a need to evolve and better respond to changing consumer desires within a challenging worldwide economic environment. So, retailers are getting into branding and manufacturing, while brands are getting into retail and manufacturing, and manufacturers are getting into branding and retailing—the result being the emergence of several hybrid business models.
To avoid perpetuating a silo mentality, companies have to go beyond improving individual areas of development. True changes happen when improvement is undertaken collectively, across departments. One of the biggest challenges in apparel today, for example, is connecting design and product development and then connecting these areas to manufacturing or teams with this expertise. PLM can help lay the foundation for successful collaboration by making the right information available to the right people at the right time—which is key to maintaining a well-oiled product development process and making sound business decisions.
Companies can no longer be content to master their traditional area of expertise – they must now master the entire end-to-end process.
The need for team alignment
Whatever their business model, most companies understand that real growth can only come from controlling as much of the value chain as possible, and ideally from product concept to final consumer. Doing this well requires the support of technology and effective process management in order to master a product’s entire lifecycle.
Connecting the design process to product development and manufacturing has become critical to remaining competitive. Team alignment and collaboration are prerequisites for business growth strategies, but building collaboration doesn’t happen overnight. Using an end-to-end solution, such as Lectra Fashion PLM, within an innovative process can help to bridge design, product development and manufacturing teams quickly and efficiently.
PLM can bring fashion companies visibility to stimulate and maintain growth while dealing with constant changes. It also helps to share knowledge between creative teams and product developers. By bringing visibility to designs and technical specifications, the information is shared at once quickly and accurately. But consolidating information and having a clear visibility of each step of the value chain is not only an efficient way to gain control, it can also improve product quality and accelerate performance. By improving the way design and development teams communicate, Lectra Fashion PLM also reduces time to market, freeing up time to focus on meeting short and long term goals.
By federating design, development and sourcing, Lectra Fashion PLM helps companies make quick and informed decisions at any time from concept to production facilitating both flexibility and team alignment.
Working closely with Suppliers
Getting information to the right people in time to make business decisions is one of the single biggest challenges for companies in the fashion industry. By using a unique PLM platform, brands, retailers and manufacturers can closely manage and control what their suppliers do. Vendor management within PLM can support this, while also giving preferred suppliers access to specific information at any time during the process.
Given the complexity of the fashion supply chain, Lectra Fashion PLM aims to improve relations with suppliers. For example, it can help troubleshoot last minute product changes due to unexpected cost fluctuations, while ensuring calendar deadlines are
met. With everyone working on a single version of data and a shared version of the product, suppliers know they have the latest information and companies can be sure that what they communicate is accurate and up to date.
If a PLM makes it easier to communicate with suppliers and track activities, it also helps monitor compliance, as well as key quality and cost metrics. All specifications, including product history, are easily available. This makes it easy to carry over a style or resend a spec pack with a replenishment order. Suppliers can also be given limited access to products so they can play a controlled yet interactive role in development. Buyers and merchandisers can more easily compare costs which enables them to optimize material and product purchases across size ranges and sourcing offers, and ultimately meet consumer demands in the best time frame.