Closed-Loop Product Lifecycle Management: Deliver Inspired Products in Fashion and Retail

Closed-Loop Product Lifecycle Management: Deliver Inspired Products in Fashion and Retail

In the fashion industry, new product development is a dynamic process that is highly dependent on seasonal demand. Traditionally, the full development cycle of a new product occurs at least twice a year on short schedules. In the past decade the revolution of “fast-fashion” has caused retailers to develop products at a frenetic pace. This movement is changing the face of the global apparel industry and placing more pressure on retailers, forcing them to deliver ten fashion collections a year, versus the traditional four. Decreasing customer attention spans along with increasingly varied purchase options fuels shortening delivery schedules. Whether it’s digitally purchased through social media, or by mobile methods, customer expectations are shifting. To remain competitive, fashion and retail developers must either rise to the challenge or fail as a business. That path to success ultimately points to an integrated product lifecycle management (PLM) solution. Developing at a Frenetic Pace In a recent survey conducted by Aberdeen Group, inefficient collaboration was the overriding theme for fashion and retail companies at 57%, with siloed departments second at 36%. They were 54% more likely to list poor collaboration as a challenge over companies not in the fashion industry. By its very nature, the fashion industry moves quickly, requiring flexibility across the entire organization. A disjointed company, weak in collaboration and working in siloed departments, will be slow to react to changing market sentiment. Notably, data quality was listed as a challenge for retailers, demonstrating that insight and visibility into product development data and activities is a strong differentiator. Data-driven decision making keeps retailers smart and connected to the process, affording them...
Salesforce Acquires Demandware

Salesforce Acquires Demandware

On June 1, 2016, Salesforce announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Demandware. This announcement comes close on the heels of NICE Systems acquiring inContact and Vista Equity Partners acquiring Marketo. Demandware is an e-commerce platform that helps retailers manage content on their sites, plan and execute promotions, optimize prices, and personalize web experiences. Many of these capabilities already exist in the Salesforce ecosystem, however they are dispersed across products such as Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, and Analytics Cloud. With yesterday’s announcement, Salesforce takes a step towards bringing the technical capabilities retailers need to manage digital conversations together in a unified platform. It also reflects the company’s roadmap for building vertical-specific cloud solutions. The first of these two were Financial Services Cloud and Healthcare Cloud, both of which were announced during Dreamforce 2015. Once Salesforce has successfully integrated Demandware’s capabilities into its current cloud-based offerings, we can surely expect the company to announce a “retail cloud.” A retail cloud aimed at blending traditional CRM and e-commerce capabilities would be attractive to retailers currently struggling with the integration of numerous point solutions. Indeed, according to Aberdeen’s latest customer experience management study, the lack of systems integration is the top challenge keeping retail executives up at night, especially when it comes to designing personalized interactions across multiple channels. We should also look at this acquisition in the context of the current competitive landscape. In 2013, SAP acquired Hybris – another large commerce platform provider. This was a move that enhanced SAP’s CRM capabilities aimed at supporting retail organizations. Oracle, for its part, has also been enhancing its retail capabilities over the past few years through acquisitions of companies like BlueKai, Endeca and Maxymiser. Launching a...
How an Online Supermarket Automated Their Entire Warehouse

How an Online Supermarket Automated Their Entire Warehouse

Cambridge Consultants, a world-class supplier of innovative product development engineering and technology consulting, has partnered with Ocado, the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer, to develop a next-generation warehouse. Ocado, based in Hatfield England, ships more than two million items every day to customers all over the UK. This involves the coordination of hundreds of thousands of crates containing millions of grocery items that need to be moved both in real time, and in parallel. Cambridge Consultants stepped in to automate this process by developing the world’s first wireless control system, which turned their warehouse automation solution into 1,000 machines picking groceries in a space no larger than an Olympic swimming pool, all the while communicating in real-time. To achieve the performance they were looking for, while managing risk and time constraints, Cambridge Consultants had to create a completely custom solution. What they ended up with is the “most densely packed mobile network in the world.” Unfortunately, existing mobile technology was not up to par in terms of the real-time control and scalability of such a build, so the team used a system based on 4G telecoms, in an unlicensed Wi-Fi band, to get the job done. Tim Ensor, head of connected devices at Cambridge Consultants explains in this article, “We created a system based on the principles of 4G but which can support 1,000 devices from a single base station – over 10 times more than is usually possible.” This shiny new warehouse deals with an incredible number of products daily, each stacked in tight blocks, ready to be picked using a conveyor system that allows 1,000 robots mounted above to...
Retail Transparency in Outbound Omni-Channel Orchestration

Retail Transparency in Outbound Omni-Channel Orchestration

The need for transparency in retail supply chains is becoming more critical than ever. The continued growth of the retail eCommerce sector requires brick and mortar retailers to compete with the pure eCommerce sites through their own eCommerce sites and stores. It is the ability to know sooner, so that action can be taken as quickly as possible to correct, mitigate or even capitalize upon the situation that exists. Transparency begins before an order is ever taken and begins with the evaluation and determination of the anticipated customer demand, and where it’s expected to be seen. For retailers this demand statement must consider all channel options and go beyond the traditional store-level fulfillment to encompass all options for ordering anywhere and fulfilling from anywhere that the business endorses. For this reason, transparency in the retail supply chain must also extend beyond the four walls of the organization in order to provide greater visibility into customer plans, supplier and trading partner activities. Collaboration is the key!1 All organizations work with third party providers in the area of logistics, even when companies have their own fleets. Due to omni-channel demands, parcel shipments have increased for brick and mortar retailers as they have been challenged to support multiple order/shipment combinations rather than just from their own DC (distribution center) to their stores. Any shift from bulk to parcel is an increase in rates of 3x-5x as an order of magnitude. As a result, managing the outbound orchestration for omni-channel fulfillment now plays an even more critical role in the process of managing costs. Outbound Omni-Channel Orchestration involves managing the outbound movement of...
Retailers: Do You Have a Unified View of Your Omni-Channel Data?

Retailers: Do You Have a Unified View of Your Omni-Channel Data?

Research conducted by Aberdeen’s Omer Minkara uncovered something interesting: While retailers, on average, use four channels to interact with customers, a full 60% of retailers lack a unified way of viewing the data generated through those interactions. The thing is, when customers are interacting with your organization across channels, they don’t think they are dealing with multiple entities, they think they are dealing with one. If they end up speaking with one of your employees, and that employee is missing information about them because your data lives in separate silos, that’s a problem. And that’s what makes data-integration in combination with an omni-channel strategy so critical. Indeed, companies who get this right are more successful. To get a sense of what such success can look like, consider the following chart. Best-in-Class retailers, who follow a “omni-channel + big data” approach enjoy… …when compared to competitors. So, what are the Best-in-Class retailers doing with the omni-channel data they collect? As you can see in Figure 1, they are doing several things: Above all else, Best-in-Class retailers use the data they collect to get smarter about relevant recommendations, recommendations that guide the customer’s journey and directly drive increased revenue. Of course, it’s all interesting to note that, although Minkara’s research also found that personalization was the second greatest challenge facing retailers today (being in the right channels was the first), only a third of Best-in-Class retailers actually use their data to personalize the digital storefront with dynamic content. In other words, even the Best-in-Class have a ways to go! Channels will continue to proliferate, customer expectations will continue to rise, and big data will continue to just get bigger. In...
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