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Cloud, APIs Help Backbone Build Next-Gen PLM for Consumer-Centric Brands

Backbone PLM’s latest platform upgrade delivers a potent cocktail of cloud connectivity and APIs, giving modern consumer-centric companies purpose-built tools to deliver on the central promise of helping brands make smarter product development decisions and get The Next Big Thing to market—faster.

Eyeing a potential funding rounding likely later this year that could raise three to five times the $8 million it landed from seven investors in August 2018, Backbone PLM has its sights set on broadening its capabilities as a collaboration platform that infiltrates even more areas of the fast-growing DTC enterprise.

“Our thesis from day one is we believe there is this tsunami of next-generation modern consumer goods companies coming into the space,” co-founder and CEO Matthew Klein told Sourcing Journal. They’re recognizing that the “ducktape workflow” they’ve cobbled together from a patchwork of free or generalized software might have sufficed for their earliest days getting off the ground, but lacks the firepower needed to mature into next-level growth.

And while tech has been busy building best-of-breed solutions in e-commerce and customer service and acquisition, now all the attention is on how product gets made and brought to market, Klein added.

“Customer demand is driving the supply chain today,” he explained. More than ever apparel firms must establish competitive supply chains that incorporate current, purpose-built solutions like Backbone PLM, he continued, that not only expertly guide product development but ensure that brands are making the right product the right way.

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Many established PLM systems suffer from legacy investments in technology built for a different era, asserted Klein, while Backbone continually updates with new functionality-first features—key in attracting clients like Black Diamond Equipment and Outerknown, which are among the 125+ users of the platform.

One of the main differentiators that sets Backbone apart is a custom nomenclature system that gives brands a way to definite the taxonomy and fields that matter to them without taking the time and resources to build new code or undertake a time-intensive platform customization, Klein noted. And it’s a reason why the PLM has seen success in working with clients across verticals from eyewear and fashion to footwear and accessories.

Klein said Backbone will add new features to its vendor portal later this year though brands and suppliers already can collaborate closely through the PLM. Clients decide if vendors need read-only access to the system so they can download tech packs or component handoff sheets, for example, while vertically integrated operations might get the keys to the kingdom.

And as 3-D plays a larger role in reducing product development waste and eliminating unnecessary rounds of prototyping, Klein said enabling integration with vendors around this arena will be a “big push” this year, with partnerships forthcoming later in 2019.

Also coming up before the curtain falls on this year: merchandising and planning suites, which Klein describes as “the next frontier for us.” The goal is for Backbone to become a “full supply chain application that speaks to entire sourcing and [product development] teams,” he explained, because at the end of the day “it all becomes one ball of wax.”

The merchandising process is so closely linked to design that it just makes sense to add the new modules, Klein said, adding that the platform will more directly compete with platforms from Gerber Technology, Centric and PTC FlexPLM. By the close of Q3, Backbone will have three avenues through which to reach target customers: merchandising teams, design teams and product development and production teams.

Perhaps the crowning achievement of Backbone’s “breakout year,” Klein said, is being named one of the “break-out tech start-ups innovating across the fashion and retail industry,” per The Lead’s Leading 100 list of emerging companies to watch. Taking place July 9-10 in Brooklyn, The Lead Innovation Summit brings together top fashion executives and retail “change-makers” to debate what it takes to excel in the industry today.