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Future-Proof Your Fashion Business with Next-Gen PLM

The post-pandemic world is taking shape and it’s becoming clear which of the deep changes brought about or accelerated by Covid-19 are going to last beyond 2021. In a market ruled by both optimism and uncertainty, CGS has identified seven priorities for success—and its new eBook shows how next-generation PLM is positioned to support them.

The pandemic catalyst

The pandemic has increased the need for more efficient systems across the supply chain. Covid-19 created a compelling business case for investing in technology that tackles the lasting challenges of this new business market,” said Daniella Ambrogi, global marketing director, CGS. “Brands and retailers have begun to prioritize product information management (PIM) and integrations that offer a smoother on-ramp from product design and development to the population of online catalogs and storefronts, in preparation for e-commerce’s more dominant role.”

At the same time, supply chain resilience and risk mitigation has emerged as a business-critical metric for brands that have now experienced first-hand the chaos that a breakdown in sourcing and distribution can cause.

However, Ambrogi continued, equally important for finding and safeguarding success post-pandemic will be the enterprise engines that reside in between sourcing and distribution: PLM and ERP.

“From serving as a data backbone for distributed workers and disconnected solutions to acting as a hub for collaboration with supply chain partners to enabling effective digital product creation, PLM in particular has the potential to deliver against brand and consumer expectations that have been forever changed by Covid,” she said.

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Successful integration

Integrating this type of technology, though, has its challenges. Ambrogi noted that providing seamless platform integration is always key to brands and retailers and their manufacturing processes.

A futureproof PLM platform should be designed to support integration to a wide variety of solutions and services through open application programming interfaces (APIs) and web standards, rather than bespoke integration.

“From PIM to supplier management, productivity suites to messaging services, PLM’s centralized repository of key product data must be able to be seamlessly synchronized among the raft of different solutions that make up the modern enterprise ecosystem—without customization.”

As well as improving efficiencies and workflow process, effective PLM should provide great supply chain control, transparency and traceability. “Ongoing supply chain disruptions along with more requirements for visibility into the end-to-end process has forever changed the way we do business, noted Ambrogi.

“As Covid begins to settle into the background, organizations are looking longer-term “After coping with the unprecedented changes of 2020 and 2021 those that have previously implemented PLM are looking to scale their use of it, with the majority of brand and retail businesses aiming to expand their PLM functionality the coming year.”

In addition, those brand and retail businesses yet to adopt PLM are now re-evaluating how their core capabilities of data consolidation, process integration and optimization and supply-chain wide collaboration, combined with its potential extensibility, can support the following:

  1. Intelligent omnichannel retail—through seamless sharing of critical product data with different channels
  2. Compressed time to market—enabled by automation, workflow, critical path and inter-department collaboration capabilities
  3. Agility to pivot to new (and potentially unexpected) product categories—supported by flexibility and configuration in design and development functionality
  4. Concrete commitments to sustainability—with supplier scorecarding, smart material planning, sample reduction, transparency and accountability
  5. Supply chain control and collaboration—unlocked through secure, gated access to live technical specifications, fit comments and other communication among technical development, sourcing and suppliers
  6. Smart warehousing and inventory allocation—created by intelligent planning and distribution processes, built on integrations between PLM and ERP
  7. Rapid acceleration of digital product creation and 3D design—delivered through bidirectional integrations among product data, color and material libraries, as well as other essential elements of building digital prototypes, samples and visualizations


Through greater collaboration it is hoped that the textile and apparel industry will resurface from the pandemic stronger than ever with new opportunities and efficiencies. PLM is seen as primary tool for this success.

“While dedicated solutions are being applied to both upstream supply chain and downstream retail processes, each of these priorities is also reliant on accurate, centralized and real-time product data and technical specifications—as well as on the platform that houses those assets, acting as an engine for integration between focused, process-specific solutions, such as 3D simulation and shopfloor control,” Ambrogi said. “This places PLM at the core of not only the toolsets that allowed forward-thinking brands such as our BlueCherry® customer Delta Children to survive the pandemic, but also at the heart of post-COVID growth ambitions and new opportunities.”

The right PLM platform has the potential to connect different applications and different areas of the extended enterprise—to unlock additional opportunities and add value. It can also further shore up operations against unforeseen disruption.

“Although the worst days of the pandemic may be in the rear-view mirror, its effects are likely to be long-lasting,” Ambrogi concluded.  “The right PLM platform, therefore, could be one of the most important investments brands and retailers make in managing those effects and preparing for what’s next—whether that means revolutionizing core design, development and sourcing processes, or integrating the wider enterprise IT ecosystem with a single source of accurate, actionable product data.”

Looking for more insights and tips to future-proof your fashion business? Download the latest eBook, 7 Priorities for Post-Pandemic Success, to discover how a powerful, no-code PLM solution can enable the collaboration and integration to prepare your business for the future of fashion.