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The time to digitalize the product lifecycle is now

Guest Post: Dave Sheekey, Director, Solution Principal, Merchandise Lifecycle Management, Aptos In our previous blog, we discussed why making inventory management more accurate and efficient is one of three key… View Article

RETAIL SOLUTIONS

The time to digitalize the product lifecycle is now

Guest Post: Dave Sheekey, Director, Solution Principal, Merchandise Lifecycle Management, Aptos

In our previous blog, we discussed why making inventory management more accurate and efficient is one of three key ways that merchandise lifecycle management must evolve in a post-pandemic world.

In this blog, we turn our attention to the second element: the product lifecycle. Traditionally, this involves your merchandisers, analysts, planners and buyers meeting in person with manufacturers to design, develop and produce designs for the new season. And you don’t need me to tell you it’s a process that takes a lot of time.

In today’s world, however, time is more important than ever before because disruption is constant. The more time you take to design, sample, prototype, feed back and tweak before moving to the production stage, the more opportunities there are for things to go wrong — and for market conditions to change. And a change in market conditions could dramatically impact on the marketability of the products you’re designing and producing.

The high degree of volatility we’re seeing right now looks unlikely to change. So retailers need to look for ways to take time out of the production lifecycle.

Take time out. Take design digital.

One surefire way to cut time out of the production lifecycle is to go digital. Digital technology is available to support the design process, allowing you to work with digital sketches, designs and mood boards; develop virtual look books; and create virtual samples. Digital technology also powers remote collaboration, so you can involve all your stakeholders in making decisions, regardless of location.

In fact, digital technology has advanced to the point where it can now be used throughout the creative and development phases of the product lifecycle to take time (and cost) out of the entire process. When the operating environment is as volatile as it is currently, every day you cut out of the process helps to reduce risk.

Take more time out with a digitalized buying process

Switching to a digital design process is, of course, only part of the story. There’s still the requirement to engage with factories and marketplaces to buy the products you want to place in your stores and other sales channels.

In the case of apparel, for example, you need look at colours, examine fabrics, and see how they fold and drape. If you can do all of that digitally, you can take even more time and cost out of the process. The latest digital technology delivers pure colour, regardless of device; while 3D graphics, augmented reality (AR) and other digital techniques let you see, for example, how fabrics behave, enabling you to provide input and make decisions digitally.

What’s more, it’s not just retailers who benefit from time and cost savings when the buying process goes digital. Designers and manufacturers do too, as digital designs can be created, adjusted and agreed more quickly and cost-effectively before going into production.

Make digital a reality

Forward-looking brands have already made the transition and are reaping the time and cost benefits of a digitalised product lifecycle. (They don’t even have to contend with the restrictions and risks around overseas travel right now.) If you’ve been planning a move to digitalised processes, now is the right time to make those plans a reality.

Look out for the third recommendation in our series: How to shorten, connect and streamline every link in the supply chain.

Until then, you can learn more about the Aptos Product Lifecycle Management solution, which incorporates capabilities for creating digital mood boards and sketches, as well as extensions to integrate 3D and AR design views.

To find out how Aptos can help your retail operation, click here.

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