At a Glance:
Whether you’re securing funding for your fashion startup or marketing your product to acquire new customers, successful business owners know how important it is to cut frivolous expenses when growing your brand. The fashion and apparel industry is no exception to this rule. Luckily, tech pack creation helps designers and product developers save time and money to ensure long-term growth and profitability.
Tech packs are a core value provided by any modern PLM solution. Leveraging this software and utilizing Backbone’s dynamic tech pack creation tools provide a blueprint for designers to collaborate with vendors and bring their artboards to life. Larger, well-established brands are often stuck with legacy PLM systems and have difficulty adopting modern PLM technology because of the organization size and the bureaucracy that frequently comes with it.
Newer fashion businesses should invest in the most effective technology to reduce spending and increase revenue at every stage of the supply chain. Take advantage of Backbone’s free tech pack templates to help your brand get started, and continue reading to learn how tech packs save time and money.
Why Are Tech Packs Important?
Tech packs are the visual contracts you create with your factory to allow them to interpret your designs and create a working prototype. Without a detailed tech pack in place, your product development process ceases to function in an efficient or organized manner. Tech packs are your security net to mitigate risk, streamline communication, and consolidate product data. If any unexpected errors occur, suppliers can access product details and refer to the illustration that lays out the specifications requested. Simply put, tech packs act as the written contract for your product design — providing the starting point to communicate with factories and develop successful products.
Related Article: What is a Tech Pack? Tips & Tricks
How Do Tech Packs Help Brands Make Decisions?
We should also include that tech packs allow you to receive quotes and research new products. A factory cannot provide an accurate quote unless they have access to ALL product specs upfront (construction, fabrication, trims, measurements, colors, etc). For example, you could forward a tech pack to a sewing contractor while they send you a price estimate for your product in return. A tech pack helps brands compare price points and the quality of work.
Tech packs keep things organized, which is essential for early-phase fashion startups. If you communicate with a manufacturer who has not had access to any product information; they may take advantage of you financially and skew their estimate based on limited knowledge of the product. Without concrete details to provide, you will likely be overcharged for samples.
We recommend all fashion brands thoroughly research and vet contractors before manufacturing begins. Quotes can change drastically depending on where your product is made. If you work with overseas suppliers, your tech pack will help facilitate communication and provide a frame of reference if the language barrier deters any progress. No matter where your factories are located, using tech packs to help gauge the best price per unit can save thousands of dollars in the long run.
Let’s break this down further to give you a better understanding: You want to manufacture 100 items, and factory A quotes $20 per unit while factory B quotes $14 for the same order. If you agree to the offer by factory B, you would save $600 total on your product with the potential to widen your profit margin by 33 percent. Consider these numbers for additional SKUs and repeat orders, as well. Think about future seasons, how often you plan to place purchase orders, and how you can save money each time.
Related Article: Mitigating Supply Chain Risks
Will Tech Packs Lower Sampling Costs?
Sampling costs truly depend on who makes the sample and where it is manufactured. US-based factories may charge hundreds per sample, which is why fashion startups often manufacture goods in Asia, where the cost is closer to $20 to $80 per sample. Price points vary because sample makers cut fabric and create entire patterns by hand before construction and sewing begin. Even the simplest garments can take hours to build, and oftentimes factories won’t make money from producing samples. Based on the number of units your supplier agreed upon, try to keep your sample costs at 2 to 2.5 times the Free on Board (FOB) price.
When it comes to sending samples to your factories, imagine how difficult it would be to receive accurate quotes and limit revisions without proper product specs, construction details, or technical sketches. It could take several, maybe even a dozen rounds to get your sample correct. If you try to communicate product details verbally or via email, your product will still be miles away from the final results you’d receive from sending a high-quality tech pack.
Backbone’s tech pack creation helps limit unnecessary rounds of sampling to improve lead times. All necessary product details, including color swatches, fit samples, lab dips, and so on, are easily accessible in one consolidated system. Backbone allows internal team members and suppliers to communicate material costs, arrival times, and sample data across styles, SKUs, and seasons, so products arrive as envisioned without hunting down your factory for updates.
With sample details included in the tech pack, your brand can reduce sampling with fewer errors and improve quality control. Backbone’s interconnected libraries dynamically update product data to be reused, edited, or updated throughout the various sampling stages.
Perhaps the most important aspect of tech pack creation is the ability to share feedback and revise your product specs in a way your factory can understand. When building tech packs in Backbone, design and development teams can leave comments, annotate, upload images, or collaborate in real-time to make changes faster and keep track of approvals. The built-in functionality allows teams to modify measurement requests against your factories and approve the product or request an additional sample in one convenient location.
Related Article: Managing Sample Development
How Will Tech Packs Save Time?
In the grand scheme of product development, saving time saves money, which saves your bottom line. It isn’t about cutting corners, but finding an efficient means to produce new styles and collaborate with vendors. Tech packs help your brand fill in the gaps where communication would typically be facilitated through email, reducing user error and increasing your speed to market.
To illustrate an example, say you spend 10 minutes emailing a contractor to explain product details and production requirements. If it takes six more emails to convey what you need for your samples, you’ve already lost a full hour. Once your sample arrives, you exchange three to four more emails back and forth until the product looks correct. From the very beginning, you’ve lost almost two hours of working time and numerous days in between each email.
But it doesn’t end there. What if it takes five samples until you receive a prototype you’re satisfied with? After additional email correspondence and extra samples to review, you can almost guarantee weeks have now passed. And once you think you’ve reached the finish line, it’s time to reach out to other contractors to compare prices, starting the same process over again.
Your time is far too valuable to waste writing emails and waiting days on end for a response. Every day spent waiting to bring your product from design to production is a missed opportunity to make a sale. As we discussed, when production is delayed and your product can’t reach new customers, how much time and money are you losing?
Backbone helps brands create tech packs ahead of deadlines and maintain organization throughout the product development cycle. When teams can build tech packs with greater efficiency than manual reporting tools, this reduces sampling rounds and revisions, limits material costs, and allows your brand to get products to market faster. Product and component data can be sent to factories in minutes without any scattered email reports, saving hours of design time and hours of confusion.
Tech packs simplify your designer’s creative path, saving time aligning with factories on the raw materials and product specs needed to create new styles or products. Developers can reuse sample templates for various products in your catalog to prevent inaccurate data or duplicate items from being sent to suppliers. Using manual spreadsheets to create tech packs is still an effective method depending on your style count or purchase order, but it can take weeks and drastically halt your production schedule.
Related Article: Factory Communication and Tech Pack Sharing
Recap: Tech Pack Has Your Back
So far, we have discussed how tech packs save time and money during product development, but there are additional ways tech packs can help ease the burden for brands transitioning products from concept to creation. We’ll explain below:
1. Data Entry
Manual data entry takes up an exorbitant amount of time. Legacy PLM systems often require data points to be re-entered and updated by hand with each change. However, tech packs extract and store data automatically for teams to view in real-time. This consolidated system allows designers and developers to focus on more pressing matters that directly impact production.
2. Quality Assurance
As mentioned, tech pack creation reduces errors and ensures the highest quality for each design. Tech packs include technical measurements, construction details, images files, layouts, and all size specs necessary for manufacturing. With a quality tech pack, this product data can be sent to factories for sampling and production with precise accuracy and consistency.
3. Product Libraries
It is common for product designers to pull past templates to use for new styles. Backbone saves time and space, storing this data virtually through interconnected product libraries with dynamically updated data. Designers can access products and adjust them to fit particular seasons or SKUs. Utilizing a centralized source of truth for products and components allows them to be reused, edited, or updated with ease.
For seasoned fashion empires and budding fashion startups alike, organization is a must. Tech packs provide clear instructions for factories, helping to bridge the gap between design and production stages. Both internal and external teams can search for product details, access compliance records, or update patterns in an instant.
5. Future Success
Adopting new technology into your current practice can hinder growth and development. However, Backbone’s tech packs are easy to use and require little training. Smaller teams are nimble, but a short learning curve goes a long way in determining how successful new technology will be. When product data is organized and simple to navigate, more time can be directed toward perfecting the customer experience. Proper tech pack creation can help increase sustainability efforts, improve organization, and strengthen product development to generate revenue long-term.
Related Article: Tech Packs: Static Data vs Dynamic Data
Invest In Your Brand, Invest in Backbone PLM
Backbone PLM takes a modern, user-friendly approach to tech pack creation compared to traditional fashion PLMs. You can experience a dynamic, all-encompassing product development platform with the tools needed to save time and money.
If you’re looking for a better way to create tech packs and communicate with factories, explore Backbone’s collection of case studies, blogs, and free resources to learn more.