The global fashion industry is now worth an estimated $2.4 trillion. It’s fast, multi-faceted, truly international and, above all, highly complex. With this complexity comes a number of different challenges for fashion businesses to overcome right throughout the supply chain, which if not addressed, can mean the difference between turning a healthy profit or suffering a substantial loss. Realising this, forward-thinking fashion businesses are turning to technology for help, with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, for example SAP Business One for Apparel and Footwear, providing the much-needed ability to tackle the daily challenges head on faced by those operating in the super-fast, complicated world of fashion.
With this in mind, we’re going to take a look at how three different fashion businesses have implemented ERP solutions to help them overcome some very real challenges they faced. But, first of all, what actually is an ERP solution?
In short, an ERP solution unites all business processes and functions across an organisation within a single, centralised system. Replacing multiple legacy systems and spreadsheets, an ERP solution provides total visibility of the business and wider supply chain. By streamlining processes, increasing automation, and revealing new depths of business insight what results is increased business agility. For fashion businesses in particular, industry-specific ERP systems span the entire business, from design through to despatch, providing a comprehensive, end-to-end solution which helps to massively reduce the complexity that fashion businesses are dealing with each and every day.
Take Jacobo D. Kattan, for example, the commercial division of the Kattan Group, which manufactures and exports garments across the Americas and Europe, including under the well-known Van Heusen label. By implementing their ERP system, they automated processes across the board, easing the administrative burden placed on staff and minimising errors that often occur when you’re dealing with time-consuming manual tasks. Access to a centralised data store of information from across the business give the added benefit of real-time analysis enabling fast, more informed decisions based on up-to-date business insights. What’s more, as all the information is on a single system, processes are more streamlined and the business was able to better plan for customer demand. This has resulted in an 18% reduction in factory production errors due to increased control over production orders and a welcome 14% reduction in inventory levels too. Plus, customer service levels have improved as well as a reducing lost sales.
Also benefiting from an ERP system is UK footwear manufacturer, Redfoot Shoes. Due to the consolidation of information from one system, Redfoot now has access to valuable, real-time information about the business’s cash position, sales figures, and better access to customer history information. Automated stock control and accurate stock allocation have increased efficiencies further still, with transparent, interdepartmental communications between different business functions including design, production, logistics and accounts, streamlining all business processes for optimum levels of business agility.
Alpargatas USA Inc, distributors of Havaianas and a subsidiary of Alpargatas SA, has also been reaping the benefits of an ERP system designed specifically for the fashion industry. Offering such a massive breadth of choice to customers means that Alpargatas is dealing with up to 3,000 product variations, with multiple styles, colours, sizes, accessories and seasonal products all coming into play. The ERP system has provided the business with the means to analyse stock quickly and automatically, providing a comprehensive understanding as to what products are available at any one time - managing a highly complex inventory without the need for time-consuming manual intervention. Add to this the ability to set-up new products with multiple attributes, without the need for time-consuming manual intervention, you can see how the system has improved efficiencies across the business.
Alpargatas has been able to build up a matrix of the different attributes of each product, with the system providing immediate access to information about different product characteristics. It’s now possible to run more granular stock reports for more detailed information to be delivered directly to the people who need it most - giving increased visibility into what’s available, eliminating stock-outs and increasing customer satisfaction.
With the right ERP system in place, fashion businesses can increase efficiencies throughout the business, reducing complexity and streamlining multiple processes to optimise business performance. With new competitors appearing on the market almost daily, it’s vital to try and stay one step ahead of the competition. With an ERP system designed to tackle the very specific challenges facing the industry, fashion businesses can set themselves apart from the competition, with efficient, effective processes in place and the access to timely, accurate business insights laying the foundations for the levels of business agility required in today’s fast-paced world of fashion.
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