Analyst eye: Keep up with the consumer
With more than 30 years of experience in the retail, footwear and apparel industry, Mark Harrop is founder and managing director of PDP Group, focused on delivering a broad range of PLM consulting support services to end users and suppliers of PLM solutions. Dassault Systèmes Contact magazine spoke with him about the future of the fast-moving Consumer Industries and the role for PLM.
Contact Magazine: What trends are you seeing in the fast-moving Consumer industries that might influence PLm solutions and vendors?
Mark Harrop: In a survey we recently conducted among more than 500 companies in varying stages of PLM implementation, the top concern was a requirement for advanced line-planning. And by that I mean views of the store showing the merchandise with the supporting metadata on those products to give a store manager, for instance, the ability to visualize how to merchandise, based on color, style, product popularity and other factors. They’re also looking for a financial view: determining what the merchandise is worth and getting that value from the PLM tool, because the PLM solution holds the metadata – whether it be the size, the color, the fit, the target retail price or the actual costed price.
The other really important aspect for 2011 and beyond is social compliance. It’s important that PLM solutions embrace this and offer support for social and ethical compliance. Retailers and brands are responsible for human rights wherever they produce products and do business. They need the ability to track and audit, particularly as aspects of social compliance become law – and PLM is the perfect tool to support this process. If PLM companies don’t embrace this and build it into the solution, they’ll lose out to the ERP world and point- solution makers. Companies also are focusing on best practices, improving product development processes and process management, and a push toward virtual sampling – all of which can be addressed with PLM solutions.
Contact Magazine: What are the top challenges for companies in this space?
Mark Harrop: The high cost of doing business, particularly for retailers with physical stores, is putting pressures on margins, especially for those with growing competition from the digital space. And a changing, much more demanding and empowered consumer who is looking for more styles, the right quality and better prices is putting pressure on brands to be the first to market with the right product.
Contact Magazine: Who will be the winners at the end of the day?
Mark Harrop: The future of the industry will go to the innovators – the brands and retailers that take on board solutions that enable speed, flexibility and efficiency. Those that can track and analyze demand by the hour or day will trump those looking at demand by the week or month. We have an impatient consumer these days that won’t wait a week while their size comes in, they’ll just go elsewhere and find it.
Full magazine available here.