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What is a Fashion PLM? Exploring the Differences Across Fashion Software Platforms

What is a Fashion PLM? Exploring the Differences Across Fashion Software Platforms

4 min read Jan 9

Header Image Source: SupplyCompass Platform

by Srishti Dhawan in Technology

SupplyCompass is a Production Platform, which is a new kind of fashion software designed for both brands and manufacturers, enabling them to manage design, product development, sourcing, order management and production together in one single platform.

What is a Fashion PLM? Exploring the Differences Across Fashion Software Platforms

Fashion businesses have for a long time embraced consumer-facing technology, from e-commerce to customer service and delivery. In a couple of clicks, customers can even shop directly from Instagram. 

Unfortunately, technology adoption has been a lot slower when it comes to back-end systems; where most businesses continue to rely on Excel, Powerpoint and e-mails. Some fashion businesses have experimented with traditional Product Lifecycle Management systems and others have started using Project Management tools, especially during the COVID-19 era. While some of these technologies streamline information across teams enabling remote working, none have been designed keeping in mind the complex nature of the fashion supply chain, and none cater to the needs of the different teams involved. 

So, what are all these fashion software tools, and why do we need them?

The need for global teams to have access to and collaborate on a single source of truth in real-time is vital, especially as the industry transforms itself to tackle the challenges of the post-COVID world. 

Currently, the majority of the teams rely on e-mails, Whatsapp, Excel and powerpoints to store and communicate information both internally, and with their supply chains. If a team member is not available, crucial information can be missed or lost, resulting in errors, waste and increasing costs. According to our research, it can cost a team of 5 handling 100 orders per season around $40,000 of the team’s time for incorrect samples or production. This does not include additional costs such as the cost of lost sales, or the cost of actual goods produced, or the cost to the environment due to wastage in sampling or production. It’s safe to assume this number can be devastatingly high.  

In the 90s, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems were developed to address the need for information to be shared and communicated during the evolution of the product. However, the technology has two major limitations: one, it works only for internal teams (which means information has to ‘leave’ the system to go to a manufacturer and therefore is lost). Secondly, they were designed without taking into account the convoluted nature of the fashion business and how teams work, resulting in complicated system architecture. 

Recently, brands have turned to project management software that is more intuitive, easy to set up and quick to learn. The challenge is that there is no place to store all the communication and back and forth on approvals, which again leads to loss of important information required by teams. 

So, what’s the solution? One single platform for brands and manufacturers that is intuitive and easy to use, and takes minutes to set up. 

SupplyCompass is an end-to-end fashion software that re-imagines how brands and manufacturers work together. We digitalise product development, sourcing and production management, enabling all players in the value chain to collaborate in real-time, gain full visibility over orders, and drive efficiencies. The result? Better relationships, better quality products, less stress, and reducing uncertainty. In addition, SupplyCompass also helps brands connect with new supply chain through our network of world-class manufacturers, should the need arise.

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Srishti Dhawan
Head of Supply Chain

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Srishti has 11+ years of experience working in the fashion value chain including manufacturing, retail, operations, and strategy consulting. She has worked with global retailers on large-scale projects to set up responsive supply chains and implement technologies i.e. Product Lifecycle Management and ERP systems. Srishti completed an MSc in Economics and Management from the London School of Economics, and BSc in Economics, Politics and International Studies from Warwick University.

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