What is a production platform, and why does every fashion brand need one?
There’s a whole host of different fashion software out there that caters to businesses of all different shapes and sizes, each focused on solving specific challenges, driving better team collaboration, and streamlining processes. Whilst often critical in enabling effective collaboration and supporting growth, businesses can risk waiting too long in adopting the right software and tools. It’s better to start early and set yourself up for success.
A Production Platform 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.
Read on to learn more about how it could be useful for you and your business or Sign up to SupplyCompass to talk to one of our team to find out if it’s right Production Platform for you.
1. What is a Production Platform?
PLM, ERP, OMS, EDI, PMI…Ever get confused at all these acronyms — what do they actually mean or do? A Production Platform does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s software specifically for the fashion industry designed with brands and the supply chains of the future at its heart. It enables teams to manage design, product development, sourcing, order management and production all from one single platform, empowering them to produce better, together.
2. Who is it for?
A Production Platform is designed to be used by anyone who handles, or looks after, the product in a business. That means; designers, product developers, production managers, garment technologists, fabric technologists, buyers, manufactures, merchandisers, and supply chain, sustainability, or sourcing teams. However, it’s also incredibly useful for finance, operations, marketing and the C-suite.
3. Why is it important in the Fashion Industry?
Product development, sourcing and supply chains are often managed through a confusing blend of offline tools and fragmented legacy systems that don’t speak to each other. Unlike other industries where intuitive and sector-specific software has streamlined and standardised processes, for decades the fashion industry has muddled through using largely manual processes — season after season. Businesses have been left to deftly navigate this long and complex process using tools not designed for their unique needs and processes. Many have come to accept manual, repetitive tasks, a lack of control or visibility, and the repeated (often significant) impact of misunderstandings and miscommunication — as just part-and-parcel of the job.
But now — with the significant and long-lasting impact of Covid-19 on global supply chains, the growing importance of data-led sustainability initiatives, and the rise of distributed teams and WFH — it is critical to the success of businesses — and the industry — that there is a digital core to daily operations.
The future is digital — now is the moment for the fashion industry’s tech transformation.
4. Why does Production need a special platform?
If you work in Fashion, have you ever taken a step back and considered that the rest of your business has dedicated software? Ones specifically built for the unique needs of each function, such as the following…
- Accounting Software [eg. Xero or Quickbooks]
- Communication Software [eg. Slack]
- eComm software [eg. Shopify or Magento]
- CRM Software [eg. Hubspot or Salesforce]
- Wholesale Platforms [eg. Joor or Order]
- Order Management Software [eg. Zedonk, Netsuite, Netsuite, SAP, Brightpearl]
But what about a dedicated platform or software for product development, sourcing and production?
What do your designers, production managers, buyers, merchandisers, manufacturers use to manage the design-to-delivery process? The answer for a majority of SMEs is Excel & Email! This lengthy and complex process that touches so many different roles across an organisation is crying out for a streamlined, standardised, central cloud-based workflow tool to drive efficiency, reduce miscommunication and make cross-functional collaboration easier.
It’s time to start using something designed specifically for the challenging needs and unique process of fashion production!
5. So if I’m a fashion brand, how do I know I need a Production Platform?
[hint-If you answer yes to any 1 of the following]
- Are you 5 or more employees or managing more than 5 styles a collection?
- Are you using hundreds of different excel sheets to build tech packs, manage costings, timelines, material libraries, and supplier information? And finding you’re spending too much time searching for the most up to date version of each?
- Do you spend most your time in production navigating between email, Excel, WhatsApp, Slack, Google Drive/ One Drive?
- Do you often receive samples that don’t match what you asked for?
- Do you spend more time than you’d like trawling through emails checking for approvals — or who said, what, when?
- Do you feel you spend a disproportionate amount of time assembling and giving sample feedback?
- Have you experienced weeks or months of avoidable delays and mistakes just because a key person was ill, on holiday, or missed off a critical email?
- Have you been frustrated because a critical attachment or bit of feedback was missed, or an expired We Transfer link?
- Do you wish you could spend more time on the wider business, designing next season, learning more about sustainability and circularity — rather than glued to email or chasing lab dips?
6. What’s the benefit?
There is a range of benefits that come from adopting a Production Platform, but ultimately it will make the lives of your team and factories easier. It will empower people to do less boring tasks, more of the stuff they love and want to do. It’s a creative industry after all! A Production Platform is designed to drive efficiency where it’s needed, to support better cross-team collaboration, and enable brands to bring products to market faster with less stress and uncertainty.
It’s ideal for brands who really do want to be part of creating a better future for production and supply chains. For people who want to spend less time in excel and email, who are open to experimenting with new tools, who want to be more effective with their work, who want to improve how style and production information is shared across their business, who believe there is a better way to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues and manufacturers.
Some key benefits of adopting a Production Platform:
- Save Time and Money: Stay on top of costs, reduce costly mistakes, get product to market faster — all with fewer team hours. It means less time managing and chasing, more time to focus on the rest of your business.
- Instant Access: Get access to new, trusted supply chains, instantly.
- Easy Information Management: Save and manage all information easily in one place.
- More Visibility & Control: Get better visibility and gain control across all collections and orders.
- Better Collaboration: The future of fashion needs better cross-team and cross-industry collaboration at its core. One single source of truth to empower the industry to work faster, better, together.
7. What are the core features of a Production Platform?
[psst. check out the SupplyCompass platform features page to see more]
- Style creation and management [tech packs]
- Moodboard creation and collaboration
- Collection Management
- Material & component libraries
- Costing & RFQ management
- Sample request management
- Sample Feedback and Approvals
- Product information management
- Manufacturer/supplier database management
- Order management-Purchase Order creation and invoice management
- Internal team and factory comms
8. What is SupplyCompass?
SupplyCompass is a Production Platform. Through the platform, teams can sign up and start using instantly — we’ve made sure to avoid lengthy onboarding processes. Say goodbye to clunky legacy systems that give you a headache just looking at.
The intuitive interface has been designed by creatives, for creatives, which means yes, you’ll actually enjoy using it.
Teams can work more collaboratively and effectively together in the cloud to create moodboards and tech packs, manage costings, build and manage product libraries, request samples, make approvals, and place orders all together in one place. The key is that there is no need to integrate with several different manufacturer software, it’s been specifically designed for manufacturers too. This means you can either invite your own factories to join or work with the SupplyCompass handpicked network of responsible and trusted manufacturers, supported by their in-house team of production experts.
Sign up to SupplyCompass to talk to one of our team to find out if it’s right for you
Oh here’s our team…they’re pretty great….
Flora is Co-Founder of SupplyCompass, a product development and production management platform for fashion brands and manufacturers. She started her career working for an innovation and strategy agency working with the likes of Adidas and L’Oréal. She spent 2 formative years living in Mumbai at the start of SupplyCompass, visiting hundreds of factories and suppliers across the country. She remains passionate about harnessing the power of technology to encourage better collaboration, drive efficiency and make sustainable production accessible to fashion brands and supply chains across the globe.
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