Five Areas to Focus on to Achieve Fast Fashion Efficiency
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Laura Arana from Argentis examines how ERP for Apparel and Footwear can make a real difference to business performance.

Fast fashion has never been so fast. The fast fashion model that emerged in the late 1990s, which was based on the US concept of ‘quick response manufacturing’ in the 80s, has accelerated to become more a case of high speed fashion, where the continuing rise and influence of social media has meant that a single Instagram post can lead to certain products selling out in a matter of minutes.

Achieving savings with a fashion ERP system

In spite of this speed increase, at its very heart, the fast fashion model is still the same: businesses need to quickly produce items in a cost efficient way in response to rapidly changing customer tastes in as near to real-time as possible. Ultimately, what this entails is optimizing certain aspects of the supply chain to enable products to be designed and manufactured quickly and inexpensively to allow consumers to buy up-to-the-minute styles at lower prices, while maintaining a healthy profit margin for the business in question. So, what are the areas to focus on to achieve optimum levels of fast fashion efficiency?

1. Integrated Category Management

First on the list is the need to align retail buyers and manufacturers in a more collaborative, two-way relationship, to prevent any communication and operational delays. Many companies these days are even pooling resources to develop more sophisticated and efficient supply chain models to help increase profits.

2. Quick Response

The Quick response concept, or QR as it is known, was developed to increase consumer satisfaction and survive increasing competition from new competitors. Its overall aim is to shorten the lead time from receiving an order to delivery of the products, making it the perfect fit for a fast fashion business model. drawing consumers back to a retail experience time and time again.

3. Cycle Times

Gone are the days of just four fashion seasons, with the traditional four seasons now compressed into shorter 4 – 6 week periods (or even shorter) meaning that there are now more potential buying seasons within the same timeframe. With fast fashion reducing time taken from conception and production through to consumption, this increases the number of buying seasons further still.

4. Production

With one of the primary fast fashion objectives being to create the shortest production time possible, production efficiency is paramount.

5. Supply Chain

Again, efficiency is key when it comes to managing the wider supply chain too, with a mix of agile and lean supply chains, or ‘leagile’ supply chains, the order of the day for fast fashion models to succeed.

An ERP solution that understands your business

So, with all these processes and concepts to get right, not to mention the day-to-day running of the business, how can apparel and footwear businesses optimize their operations? This is where the right software can make all the difference, offering the necessary capabilities to successfully manage the entire process from design through to delivery. The three main software capabilities that apparel businesses need to prioritize are:

Product Data Management (PDM)

This is the use of software to track and control product-related data. Usually this involves the technical specifications of the particular garment in question, the manufacturing specification and the types of materials required. With the right system in place, businesses can easily track the costs associated with the launch and creation of products.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

This is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from conception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal. Encompassing people, data, resources, processes and business systems, what results is comprehensive information and product data to be shared across the organisation.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

This is business management software that enables organizations to use systems of integrated apps to manage the entire business, by bringing together all major business functions (including admin, finance, sales, production, warehousing, supply chain etc) it facilitates a single view of the business, including individual products regardless of which stage of the process they are at, breaking down silos of information for friction-less working.


Integration is key

SAP Business One for Apparel and Footwear provides all this functionality within a single solution that’s designed specifically to meet the needs of the apparel and footwear industries. By amalgamating PDM, PLM and ERP functionality within one solution, this ensures optimum levels of data transparency and most importantly facilitates the smooth flow of information across the business. For fast fashion businesses and retailers without such solutions, they often rely on Excel to manage the many and varied processes, slowing up the business considerably and putting them at risk of making costly mistakes, particularly when it comes to manually transferring data from one department to another, or making decisions based on out-of-date or incorrect information.

With a fully integrated solution such as SAP Business One for Apparel and Footwear, product data is updated and available at any moment in time across all relevant departments, ensuring accurate and timely management across the entire business and providing the levels of business agility and flexibility needed to keep up with the ever-increasing pace of fast fashion.

For more information on how Argentis can help your business choose the right solution for success in the apparel and footwear sector, contact us.

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