Like all fashion businesses, childrenswear companies face pressure to speed time to market and be more responsive to consumer demand. Children want trendy, well-fitting clothes like the rest of us! However, childrenswear brands also face industry-specific challenges, from sizing to compliance requirements. If you’re in the rewarding business of creating clothes that kids and their parents love, but find yourself overwhelmed, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) can change your world!
Unique challenges of childrenswear
Clothes for infants, children and teens are subject to more stringent regulation and compliance requirements – with good reason. For small children especially, it’s critical to avoid using harmful chemicals or dyes and accessories or notions that can be removed and swallowed. This adds a layer of worry and complexity to the design, development and sourcing process.
Then there’s sizing. Unless you only create clothing in a niche age group, such as baby shoes for 0-6 months, it’s likely that you’ll be making a very wide range of sizes. Different regions use different sizing systems, and what suits the average 7 year-old in China might not fit the average 7 year-old in the USA.
Managing materials and styles in these conditions is a tricky juggling act for makers of childrenswear, usually involving complex calculations, lots of samples, piles of paperwork and spreadsheets, constant vigilance for data errors and a never-ending stream of emails back and forth with suppliers.
Creating a single version of the truth
PLM offers a way to manage all of this information efficiently, as well as a solution to more general problems that affect apparel businesses such as version control, data entry errors and information overload as well as coordination, costing and time to market.
PLM is the backbone technology that drives all product related activities from concept to retail. It offers a ‘single version of the truth’: a centralized system that is updated in real time. Everyone involved in the product lifecycle can access crucial data and communicate instantly. PLM makes it possible to centrally track and update compliance documents, reduce manual data entry, and calculate material quantities and prices instantly with dynamic costing scenarios.
Here’s how two childrenswear brands addressed major challenges using PLM.
Tape à l’Œil (TAO)
With a brand built on satisfying customer demand, French brand Tape à l’Œil sought to improve its speed to market, reduce errors and improve communication between teams. Tape à l’Œil implemented Centric PLM on time and on budget in just six months, and experienced:
- 3,500 products, across all categories, now managed in PLM
- Improved data accuracy, with automatic associations between products, prices, store formats and categories
- Seamless information sharing between French and international offices as well as suppliers and partners
Ackermans, the South African retailer, used paper printouts, Excel spreadsheets and emails to handle product-related operations. Outdated data caused communication breakdowns, audit trails were complicated and there was no standardization between departments. Getting information was slow; by the time the cost of a garment had been calculated, exchange rates changes and the information was already out of date. After implementing Centric PLM, Ackermans reported:
- Complete digital transformation; all buying processes now take place within PLM
- Margin calculations now take seconds, not weeks
- Tenders produced in two hours, not two days
- Automatic updates of exchange rates – even in-season
- All supplier communication handled in PLM, with full auditing and accountability
How can PLM help you?
PLM can support childrenswear companies in tackling difficult issues with data such as – the 3 C’s: communication, collaboration and compliance – that place serious roadblocks in the way of getting products to market at the right time.
At Centric Software, we understand the unique challenges faced by childrenswear businesses – talk to one of our experts today to find out more about how we can help.