The advent of Covid-19 – with the resulting restrictions on travel and physical meetings – has changed the way sales teams work and collaborate together, forcing almost all interactions online.
This trend has put the spotlight on Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), a software solution already widely adopted by fashion companies in North America and Europe, but only recently became a priority for businesses in Australia.
“It’s not about how much return on investment adopting PLM can bring, but rather whether clothing brands can survive without a PLM solution,” said Graham Jones, ANZ Sales Director at Centric Software.
PLM is best described as an end-to-end collaborative system that enables multiple people in different departments of a company – as well as vendors and external partners – to transparently monitor and manage product initiatives, from the initial idea and from the design phase to the end. supply, manufacture and distribution.
The result is what Jones describes as “a single source of truth” for everyone in the project, putting an end to inefficiency and waste.
“For example, you know the current nomenclature of a pair of shoes at all times. You will know if this version was the one that was used for the prototype, or the one that was used for the one approved for the series. So everyone knows exactly who it is. They don’t have to dig through emails and search for file servers, etc.
Jones cites the example of a manufacturer forced to destroy a shipment of product because it was manufactured to an older specification than the current version. A PLM system would have ensured that only the latest specifications could be found by the manufacturer.
Effective and efficient collaboration between teams using a PLM system can reduce costs by reducing waste and accelerating time to market, resulting in higher profits for brands and retailers.
Most Australian clothing companies are now undertaking home design, sourcing somewhere like Hong Kong and outsourcing factories in China or Vietnam, for example. Communication will likely be in multiple languages with teams using email, attaching documents, and trying to use spreadsheets to track changes. “It’s chaotic,” Jones says. “PLM brings it all together into one system and structure. ”
Centric Software’s flagship software suite, the Centric 8 offers a complete end-to-end solution, starting with a product idea.
“If you’re on the go and take photos on a mobile phone, you can put them in a placeholder even before the product has a name. From that idea, you can add colors, features and continue to develop the idea until it finally becomes a product, ”says Jones.
“So Centric 8 works from idea to end where you have an assortment of products and customers all over the world, and you have to put your catalog online so your customers can decide what they want. order.
“Our system covers sourcing, factory auditing, wholesale buying advice, everything. Meanwhile, our competitors tend to work in niches, such as development or sourcing – none of them have this complete end-to-end solution.
As the global pandemic amplifies the operational shortcomings of businesses without a PLM solution, Centric is experiencing growing demand for its software, especially in Australia.
“While some of the bigger companies may have been doing well before Covid, the situation worsened afterwards as you couldn’t correct the issues by flying overseas to a factory or having a meeting face to face in deal with your sourcing company. . People suddenly had to rely on their internal systems and electronic communications, which just aren’t up to par.
Each brand or retailer has the same problem, but on different scales.
A Silicon Valley-based company owned by Dassault Systèmes, headquartered in France, Centric Software operates in 25 locations around the world. Its Australian business is part of the Asia Pacific division and its local customers include Kmart, which is on the verge of implementing Centric 8 with 400 employees and 800 people working with its supplier partners, PE Nation and Best & Less.
Many PLM systems are cloud-based by nature, but the flagship version of Centric 8 is compatible with Google, AWS, and Azure, and the company has its own data center that customers can choose to use as well.
“This means we can reduce our hosting costs and be competitive when alternative PLM systems can be linked to a specific cloud service provider,” Jones explains.
Check it out 3 minute video in which Mark Rogers, PE Nation’s Operations Manager, explains the need for PLM and how its adoption has boosted his business operations.