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Supply Chain ‘Shocks’ Make Collaborative Tech a Priority in Apparel

Increasingly complex supply chains means collaboration across all participants is necessary for success. More apparel retailers have seemingly figured out this reality the hard way this year, with an August McKinsey & Co. report pointing out that apparel had the greatest exposure to shocks within the value chain across 23 industries.

With that in mind, more technology providers are looking to step up and build out offerings that can foster more resilient, flexible supply chains by connecting all users in the process.

CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services, debuted BlueCherry Next, a no-code platform for digitally native retailers and brands. Paul Magel, president of the business applications division at CGS, told Sourcing Journal that the improved visibility and collaboration the platform facilitates is aimed at solving key supply chain concerns such as satisfying the need for speed to market as well as shoring up transparency and compliance.

“While it will be hard to minimize disruption in the 2020 holiday season, this has led to investing in accelerated digital transformation efforts,” Magel said. “The smart retailers are partnering with their vendors to connect their technology and systems from concept through to the consumer to minimize the inventory they need to hold. They are transforming their distribution systems from showrooms to direct ship programs.”

The platform is designed to be modular and highly configurable, adaptable to industry-specific workflows, and is an extension of the CGS BlueCherry Enterprise Suite, which is aimed at addressing the needs of the end-to-end supply chain, whether it takes place in planning, product development, manufacturing and sales.

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And ERP software provider Apparel Business Systems (ABS) has launched absNEXT, an executive dashboard designed as an upgrade to the ABS platform that can empower users to be creative while managing their data and automating business operations.

The web-based application release gives executives, managers and end users tools aimed at broadening visibility in areas including costing, forecasting and planning. The initial ABS platform’s production model enables users to track vendor or in-house production by auto-generating purchase orders directly from customer orders or from time-phased forecasts, and also provides an array of tools to support manufacturing, such as scheduling, capacity planning, bundling, incentive rosters and payroll integration.

Additionally, the ABS B2B Customer and Sales Portals give retail customers and sales reps direct access to automatically updated information on their orders, invoices, available inventory and even work-in-process.

But with the new dashboard, users now can access these portals and download data from anywhere and on any device with a web browser.

“We have invested 10,000+ hours of development to respond definitively to the needs of our clients, both present and future,” Jean Kopan, president at ABS, said in a statement. “In this version of ABS, we focused on how to make technology work harder for our customers with our data grids, dashboards and user-managed information, reporting and extracts.”

BlueCherry Next PLM is the first solution available on the BlueCherry Next platform and is designed to facilitate global connections between designers and merchandisers with third-party suppliers. Additionally, the company now offers users access to 3D rendering of designs and materials with the goal of reducing speed to market, allowing companies to replace physical prototypes with 3D samples.

“As commerce is increasingly transacted online, as opposed to in a physical space, retailers need to engage as many of the consumers’ senses as possible while they are shopping to achieve better conversion rates,” Magel said. “With consumers being less able to go to stores to see or try on a garment, a 3D rendering offers the closest thing to the real experience. The 3D visualization also provides advantages during the product development cycle. It reduces time to market by mitigating the need to produce samples while accelerating the entire development process.”

The platform also enables users to create mood boards and storyboards pre-concept and involve buyers and consumers in the process to gather input before mass production.

Users of BlueCherry Next PLM have full access to the extended BlueCherry suite of supply chain solutions or third-party tools with open API integrations.

Like the absNEXT platform, BlueCherry Next enables users to work anywhere on any device, and is designed without the need to download software or apps. The BlueCherry Next platform offers various deployment options via cloud, SaaS, hybrid or on-premise, and integrates with other e-commerce platforms including BigCommerce, Browzwear, 3DLook, Threekit, Mymushin and Vizoo, among others.