Today’s retail product development and sourcing practices are increasingly complex, where multiple functions, processes and suppliers in different countries must collaborate like a virtual orchestra to produce products within short lead times. Failure to get the right product mix in front of the increasingly demanding consumer could mean failure of a product, brand or company. PLM software and retail sourcing tools help retailers get products to market on time through expanded visibility into critical issues which might impact the product lifecycle.
Major Pains of Retail Supply Chains:
Retailers today face many issues that include supplier compliance, order quantity and timing product delivery through their supply chain. These issues are mostly related to operational efficiency and the ability to respond to retail market trends faster. Other issues include:
Demanding Market: Whereas in the past retailers could get away with only a few new assortments per season, today they might rotate stock every few weeks. Consumers are increasingly demanding and trends change fast, so staying competitive means finding ways to quickly match demand. In most cases consumers want a mix of variety, fashion and quality along with a socially responsible products at cost-effective prices.
Murky Vision: As supply chains grow in complexity with increased assortments, processes and links in the chain, information visibility becomes critical. Unfortunately it also becomes more difficult as multiple versions of documents such as product trackers, cost sheets, sample trackers and supplier scorecards are created in different formats. Problems occur when information is not centralized or there are inadequate ways to share information.
Manual Processes: Given the complexity in today’s supply chains where multiple internal departments and third parties are involved, the reality is that each link in the chain might have their own information management processes which are not linked to the broader supply chain. These processes are often not automated and might involve a separate ERP system, spreadsheets, PDF’s and communication such as phone calls and emails.
Pressure Points: As retailers struggle to maintain margins and meet market demands, the pressure on supply chains has increased requiring leaner inventory and more efficient processes. These pressures include demands for stronger retail sourcing, lower cost raw materials, relying on higher quality suppliers, producing and shipping products faster and just-in-time with shorter lead times and managing a longer list of KPI’s to ensure quality, compliance and supplier performance.
Complex Needs: One of the challenges that both hard and soft goods retailers are facing is how to manage their unique and complex product workflow needs across multiple product lines.
What is Retail Product Lifecycle Management (Retail PLM)?
Effective retail Product Lifecycle Management (Retail PLM) solutions provide real time visibility into retail sourcing and supply chain functions, allow planning of tasks and shifting of resources, identifying due dates and milestones and pinpointing the areas where attention is required. In best practice retailers, retail PLM does this across multiple individual private label products, lines, brands and divisions. Ultimately retail PLM allows managers to move beyond day-to-day reactive management into a more strategic management role aligned with more strategic business objectives.
The Top 10 Benefits of Adopting a Retail PLM Solution
Removes information silos and provides visibility into critical issues
Consolidates information, mitigates risk through early warning
Enables management by exception
Ensures global calendars are automatically synched across internal and external teams
Manages resources to prevent bottlenecks and ensures success
Provides business intelligence enabling better decision making
Keeps all supply chain stakeholders on schedule
Supports collaboration and updates changes to all parties involved
Improves product cycle times and enables faster time to market
Reduces errors, inaccuracies and inefficacies in the supply chain