Discover the secrets of retail PLM… from the experts who wrote the playbook.

Presenting the Definitive Guide to Retail PLM Solutions

Everything you need to know to evaluate and choose the best product lifecycle management (PLM) technology & partner for your business

This guide is designed to empower retailers and brands seeking a new PLM platform, providing insights, strategies, and considerations to make an informed decision that aligns with your business objectives.

In our ever-evolving landscape of the retail industry, where challenges like climate change, sustainability regulations, supply chain disruptions, and market unpredictability converge, the modern Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platform has emerged as a vital solution.

And if you’ve made it here, chances are you’ve been asked to look at PLM solutions for your business. You may have some familiarity with PLM, but maybe you’re looking to impress your boss with a point of view on why it will make a significant impact on their priorities. And, you know what—it really will. They will be thrilled when you show up for your next meeting with a strategic solution to drive revenue, decrease costs, and reduce risk. You’re about to become a PLM sherpa!

This primer will get you filled in and rounded out on PLM 101 … and maybe some extra credit as well.

So here we go:

Bringing on-trend and on-time garments, home goods, foods, and more to market can be challenging for multi-category global retailers. The process involves numerous departments within a company, and without the right partner and technology, you’re very likely to find yourself paddling upstream (not so quickly).

Never fear; we’re pulling you to shore!

Demystifying Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a process that manages a product from design to development to delivery. It involves various stages such as design, development, sourcing, procurement, merchandising, manufacturing, distribution, and even post-sales analysis. This includes product specifications, assortment planning, sample management, bill of materials (BOM), vendor management, compliance, quality control, and other product-centric processes.

PLM solutions help manage the product data and processes throughout the product lifecycle by enabling internal and external stakeholders in the process to coalesce around one platform. This leads to greater efficiency and profitability. It helps streamline product-related processes, facilitates collaboration between teams and external partners, and provides product data accuracy.

How has PLM evolved over the past five years?

In the past five years, digital technologies have transformed the PLM landscape, making it easier to manage complex product data and processes. Today’s PLM centralizes product data and streamlines creative briefs, production schedules, vendor management, and more. These capabilities drastically improve operational efficiency from design to delivery, significantly reducing time and costs.

 

Some of the significant PLM landscape changes include:

Cloud-based PLM

Solutions make data accessible and manageable from anywhere.

Digital Twins

create virtual product replicas to predict issues and enhance performance.

AI & Machine Learning

analyze data for insights, automating tasks to boost product performance.

IoT Integration

collects real-time product data for usage and performance insights.

Collaboration

improves team efficiency and effectiveness.

The retail industry also underwent significant changes during the pandemic, with many retailers and brands experiencing difficulties in sourcing products and getting them to market. PLM solutions saw record sales as retailers rushed to pivot and resolve operations during the disruptions.

The Interline’s Fashion PLM Report 2023 explores this nine-figure new-sales PLM market in depth. Major apparel brands and retailers continue to invest significantly in PLM expansions, affirming its crucial role in product design, development, and supply chain processes. In fact, 61% of fashion executives believe end-to-end process management will be among the most important investments between 2021 and 2025.

The PLM market has adapted to the rapidly changing world and will continue to respond to the evolving needs and wants of brands, retailers, and suppliers.

What should a retailer & brand look for in a top PLM SaaS offering?

 

According to McKinsey & Company, 50% of companies have started a major transformation to achieve speed and flexibility.

So, when considering a PLM solution, retailers should look for these key features and functionalities:

  • A comprehensive end-to-end platform that supports internal and external partners from design to delivery across multiple categories
  • Third-party integrations, allowing connection with other systems and technology providers for faster decision-making
  • Global sourcing capabilities, providing visibility and control in managing product development, sourcing, quality, and cost
  • Vendor management solutions encompass all aspects of the retailer-vendor relationship, from onboarding to compliance and payment
  • Production and materials management, integrating forecasting and consumption of raw materials and product capacity across the supply chain
  • PO creation and management automation, simplifying complex, multi-category retailer processes
  • Compliance and traceability tools, supporting ESG targets and compliance regulations
  • An integrations and services team with deep retail expertise, providing successful implementation and support

Now, we know you’re excited about PLM, but remember, it’s not a quick fix—it’s a global, in-depth project that involves many stakeholders, process change management, and technical integrations. So be confident in your partner of choice because chances are you’ll be spending a lot of time together!

What are the top business pain points that a PLM solution can fix?

Today’s PLM is designed to address various pain points and challenges that businesses often face throughout the lifecycle of their products. Some of the top business pain points that a PLM solution can help fix include:

Disjointed Communication & Collaboration: PLM streamlines communication and collaboration among cross-functional teams, departments, and even external partners. It provides a centralized platform where stakeholders can easily share and access product-related information, reducing misunderstandings and delays.

Version Control & Data Integrity: Managing product data and documents across multiple versions can be complex and error-prone. A PLM system maintains a single source of truth for all product-related data, ensuring accurate version control and data integrity throughout the lifecycle.

Slow Time to Market: Efficient PLM processes can help accelerate product development and reduce time to market. By automating workflows, approvals, and tasks, businesses can bring products to market faster and gain a competitive edge.

Regulatory Compliance & Traceability: Many industries are subject to strict regulatory requirements. A PLM solution helps track and manage compliance by documenting design changes, materials, manufacturing processes, and other critical data, ensuring that products meet legal and industry standards.

Inefficient Change Management: Changes to product designs, materials, or processes need to be carefully managed to avoid costly errors. PLM provides a structured approach to change management, enabling businesses to assess the impact of changes and make informed decisions.

Lack of Visibility: Without a centralized system, it’s challenging to gain real-time visibility into the status of different projects, tasks, and milestones. PLM offers dashboards and reporting tools that provide insights into project progress, resource allocation, and bottlenecks.

Supplier Collaboration: PLM facilitates collaboration with suppliers by enabling shared access to specifications, requirements, and design data. This can lead to better supplier relationships, improved quality control, and reduced supply chain disruptions.

Waste & Cost Reduction: By optimizing processes, reducing rework, and minimizing errors, PLM can help lower operational costs and minimize waste throughout the product lifecycle.

Lack of Innovation: PLM encourages innovation by capturing ideas, feedback, and suggestions from various sources. It helps organizations systematically evaluate, prioritize, and implement innovative concepts.

Legacy Systems & Data Silos: Many businesses struggle with legacy systems and fragmented data stored in different software applications. A PLM solution integrates with other enterprise systems, breaking down data silos and enhancing data accessibility.

Customer Feedback Incorporation: PLM allows businesses to capture and integrate customer feedback into product design and development processes, leading to more customer-centric products and improved customer satisfaction.

Risk Management: PLM aids in identifying and managing potential risks associated with product development, manufacturing, and distribution. By analyzing and mitigating risks early in the process, businesses can reduce the likelihood of costly issues arising later.

The list could really go on! Overall, a well-implemented PLM solution can transform the way retailers and brands manage their products, leading to increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved product quality, and better collaboration across the organization and its partners.

What does a PLM workflow look like?

A retail Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) workflow is a structured and collaborative process that encompasses all stages of a product’s lifecycle, from ideation and design to development, production, and, eventually, end of life. It involves various departments and stakeholders working together to streamline and optimize the creation and management of retail products. While specific workflows can vary based on the company’s size, industry, and processes, here is a general outline of a retail PLM workflow:

1. Ideation:

Generating new product ideas through brainstorming, market research, and customer feedback

2. Concept Design:

Creating rough sketches or digital models of the product, involving multiple iterations and stakeholder feedback

3. Detailed Design:

Creating detailed 3D models of the product

4. Engineering:

Creating engineering specifications for the product

5. Material Sourcing & Procurement:

Managing samples, material management, and evaluating vendors for compliance and quality

6. Manufacturing:

Producing the product in collaboration with suppliers and manufacturers

7. Distribution:

Getting the product to market, working closely with retailers and distributors

8. Future Order Management:

Tracking timelines, reducing costs, and supporting real-time understanding of vendor options

What are the unique needs retailers have regarding a PLM solution?

Retailers and brands have distinctive requirements when it comes to PLM solutions, driven by the dynamic and competitive nature of the industry. One of their key needs revolves around efficient collaboration and communication across various departments, from design and sourcing to market.

A PLM solution must facilitate seamless information sharing and real-time updates, enabling retailers, brands, and vendors to swiftly respond to market trends and consumer demands. Additionally, retailers often deal with a diverse range of products and rapid product turnovers, calling for flexible PLM tools capable of accommodating various product types, categories, and attributes.

Integration with existing systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, is another crucial requirement to ensure data consistency and accuracy. Moreover, retailers require analytics and reporting capabilities within their PLM solution to gain insights into product performance, sales trends, and consumer behavior, aiding in informed decision-making. Overall, an effective PLM solution tailored to retailers’ unique needs empowers them to streamline processes, enhance product innovation, and ultimately deliver an exceptional customer experience in the ever-evolving retail landscape.

A comprehensive PLM solution plays a pivotal role in optimizing business performance through interconnected mechanisms. By effectively leveraging a well-implemented PLM solution, retailers and brands can achieve significant improvements in revenue generation, cost reduction, and risk management. Here’s an elaboration on the various ways in which PLM enhances these key aspects. Prepare to be wowed!

Foster Collaboration for Faster Speed to Market

A streamlined product development process facilitated by PLM minimizes bottlenecks and delays, allowing products to reach the market faster. This is achieved through improved collaboration among cross-functional teams. By providing a centralized platform for communication, data sharing, and version control, PLM makes sure that all stakeholders are on the same page and can access information 24/7, enabling quicker decision-making and smoother project execution.

Elevate Product Quality & Early Detection Issues

The right PLM solution empowers retailers and brands to uphold the highest product quality standards by offering enhanced visibility into product data. Teams can proactively identify potential issues during the design and development stages, significantly reducing the likelihood of defects or flaws in the final product. Early detection leads to improved product liability, fewer recalls, and higher customer satisfaction, contributing to long-term brand loyalty and a positive brand image.

Ensure Compliance & Facilitate Sustainability Goals

In the era of increasing regulatory scrutiny and the emphasis on sustainability, PLM serves as a powerful tool for maintaining compliance with industry standards and government regulations. PLM helps in recording and reporting relevant data, ensuring that products meet environmental and safety standards.

Unleash the Power of Data-Driven Decisions

Imagine being able to make informed decisions backed by accurate and comprehensive data. The lack of visibility into design and development, along with the inaccessibility of historical data, has been a pain point for many in the industry. Discrepancies throughout the design and development process only exacerbate these issues. A modern PLM solves this. Gain a holistic view of your entire product range, access crucial historical insights, and reduce errors that can hinder progress. With a centralized system of record, you’ll experience improved decision-making that drives your brand forward.

Drive Speed to Market through Collaboration

In a world where time is of the essence, manual processes and long development cycles can be detrimental to your success. Siloed teams and a lack of collaboration can hinder operational efficiency and slow down your speed to market. But fear not—PLM is engineered to accelerate your journey from design to market. By harnessing reusable assets, you’ll streamline processes and witness an unprecedented increase in your speed to market. Cross-team access to vital information and standardized processes ensures seamless scalability, giving you the ability to empower your design and development teams like never before.

Empower Your Design & Development Arsenal

PLM isn’t just another tool—it’s a game-changer. Picture a world where tech pack creation is accelerated, design and development visibility is complete, and workflows are standardized. No longer will you struggle with managing multiple categories on disjointed platforms. Integrated data libraries, coupled with an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, guarantee that your design and development teams have everything they need at their fingertips. Customizable fields and taxonomy tailored to your brand’s unique needs make sure that our platform seamlessly integrates into your operations.

Choosing the right PLM in a nutshell—you’ll need to:

Our Watch-Out List

Avoid these common PLM pitfalls when choosing a solution for your retail business:

If you’re still with us, here’s a virtual cookie—you so deserve it!

In conclusion, selecting the right PLM solution is critical for retail businesses to stay competitive, enhance innovation, and improve operational efficiency. By considering key features, business needs, and industry statistics, retailers can make informed decisions when choosing a PLM system that aligns with their objectives and maximizes their potential for success.

Remember that each retail business is unique, so evaluate various options and consult with PLM providers to find the perfect fit for your organization’s requirements. With the right retail PLM solution in place, you can unlock your brand’s full potential and drive your product development process toward new heights of success.

Why Look at Us?

The question lingers—Why should you entrust your brand’s evolution to our PLM platform? The answer is simple yet powerful. We provide more than just a software solution—we offer a holistic transformation for your product lifecycle management and beyond. By embracing our platform, you’ll be privy to:

Unparalleled Visibility:

Witness your product range like never before, with access to historical data and insights that facilitate superior decision-making.

Efficiency Overhaul:

Bid farewell to manual processes and welcome accelerated speed to market, standardized processes, and empowered design and development teams.

Tailored for Your Success:

Customize fields and taxonomy to mirror your brand’s unique identity, driving communication and visibility across your organization.

Seamless Integration:

Our platform acts as a central hub for your design and development teams, providing complete visibility from design inception to pre-production.

In an era where innovation is key, your choice of a PLM platform can make all the difference. Join the ranks of successful retailers and brands who have transformed their operations, eliminated inefficiencies, and supercharged their growth trajectory with our advanced PLM solution. Embrace the future of product lifecycle management—embrace our platform. Schedule a meeting today

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