N41 WebBlog AUGUST  01

Understanding PLM Software for the Apparel Industry

If you work in the apparel industry, the odds are high that you’re already familiar with PLM software. However, do you fully understand how it works, what its purpose is, and how to get the best possible results? In this article, we’ll explore PLM in-depth to answer these questions and more.

What is PLM Software?

PLM stands for product life cycle management. Essentially, your PLM software should manage information regarding the apparel industry, starting with the concept of a new piece and going all the way to manufacturing. In order to do the best job possible, it’ll need to capture any data related to:

  • The original design
  • The planning stage
  • The testing stage
  • Manufacturing the product
  • Marketing the product

What is the purpose of doing this? The PLM should provide solutions to help manage your apparel appropriately, including managing each product in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Key Features of PLM Software in the Apparel Industry

Although every apparel company has its own specific needs, the following three features are basically universal:

Design Management

This is the space where designers, developers, and other creators can input, and manage, their work. Once the design team feels that they’ve gotten a new design perfect, they’ll have the opportunity to share it with other departments. By doing this, they may come across some important points that can help them make their design even better.

Product Data Management

This is one of PLM’s most central features. In fact, product data management allows the apparel industry to manage an entire catalog of different clothing items from one central location. When you go into this feature, you’ll be able to access analysis, data gathering, and storage, plus any sensitive and valuable data. As an added bonus, everyone on your team – from salespeople all the way up to the CEO – can retrieve vital information.

Product Quality Tracking

This important feature can track and manage any data that pertains to quality control. Your PLM will collect and analyze any data collected during the later stages of each particular product’s lifecycle, which can help you address any issues that may come up. Your company will be able to provide faster, more accurate responses as a result.

Streamlining Operations and Enhancing Collaboration

Using a PLM will also help you streamline your operations and enhance employee collaboration. That’s because all applicable workers will be able to collaborate within the software. This provides much more room for growth than sitting around a roundtable, as your PLM allows for various designs to be uploaded – and then worked on – by everyone from the comfort of their own desk.

In total, there are at least seven different points that are touched on by a PLM.

  • Improve productivity and communication
  • Reduce costs
  • Improve your team’s decision making
  • Provide transparent product tracking
  • Speed up your time-to-market
  • Ensure regulation compliance
  • Provide a central location for brainstorming

Now, let’s look at each of these points more closely.

Improve Productivity and Communication

Everything related to each product will be contained in one, easy-to-access location. In other words, your employees will spend less time trying to track things down, which will provide a huge productivity boost.

Reduce Costs

By making it easier for employees to share information, you can also ensure that your costs will be reduced. Working with a PLM can eliminate the need for extensive samples.

Improve Your Team’s Decision Making

A PLM will make it much easier to plan your next collection. Additionally, you’ll be able to see which vendors meet acceptable quality limits. By seeing which vendors have issues such as a high cancellation rate, you’ll be able to make better decisions.

Provide Transparent Product Tracking

Take care of one of the biggest obstacles in the apparel industry – a lack of communication – by using transparent product tracking. That way, you’ll have the ability to identify any issues early on, which should make it easy to avoid costly overruns or missed deadlines.

Speed Up Your Time-to-Market

Using a PLM can drastically speed up your time-to-market. This is especially critical for the apparel industry, where delivering quality products in a timely manner is the name of the game.

Ensure Regulation Compliance

Switching to a PLM gives you one centralized location to keep all your compliance requirements. This makes it much easier and faster for auditors, and it also ensures you’ll always remain compliant.

Provide a Central Location for Brainstorming

Generating design ideas in a centralized location gives everyone an opportunity to weigh in on them. When you handle your new potential apparel ideas in this way, you’ll see a marked improvement in which ideas go forward versus which ones are considered to be unmakeable (at a profit, anyway).

As you can see, using a PLM can ultimately save you and your employees a ton of time, as well as ensure your next apparel collection is more successful than the last. This is easily worth the estimated $80-$150 per user, per month that the typical PLM costs.

Improving Efficiency in the Apparel Industry

Besides all the benefits listed above, your PLM fashion software can also make a huge difference in the efficiency of your business. Most notably, it can help you:

  • Reduce errors
  • Improve sustainability
  • Improve product quality
  • Increase revenue

Drilling down more closely on each of these items can show you just how beneficial each one can be:

  • Reduce Errors – If you’re not using a PLM, then you’ve probably got a whole lot of other software pieces that you have to put together. For instance, one design could have work you need to amass in Dropbox, emails, and Excel. By putting everything in one place, instead, you can greatly reduce errors.
  • Improve Sustainability – Using a PLM allows you to enable closed-loop product development, which is a fantastic way to deal with waste management concerns.
  • Improve Product Quality – With a PLM on your side, you’ll be able to fully automate procedures and processes that are known to make your customers happy and boost your product quality.
  • Increase Revenue – What is the relationship between cost, pricing, and profit? PLM makes it super simple to find out, which can assist you with boosting your sales goals. You’ll also be able to save some money on lead time, production expenses, product costs, and inventory costs.

Getting a PLM set up may initially take some time, but we think you’ll agree it is well worth it!

Apparel PLM Software Solutions

As we review the highlights of choosing apparel PLM software, it becomes quite clear that this is a highly important software to implement. Not only can it give your team a place to design new apparel, but it also holds all the necessary data and product control tracking to ensure that everything arrives at the store in fantastic shape! Even better, PLM will improve your team’s efficiency, boost your revenue, and improve your sustainability.

N41 truly understands how to be efficient, innovative, and scalable. That’s how we became the nation’s leader in apparel ERP solutions. We’ve maintained an astronomical 99% of our clients, and we’ve also got 16 years of industry experience. Turn to N41 now to receive your free demo. We’re confident that once you’re done, you’ll become N41’s latest client!  

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