Improve apparel product life cycle and assortment planning

Improve apparel product life cycle and assortment planning

One of the most critical areas for the apparel industry to address is product life cycle management, how to improve apparel product life cycle and assortment planning. It is being severely impacted by a range of factors which are placing challenges on local manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers to remain competitive. As retailers constantly strive to achieve shorter release lead-times to support the introduction of new brands, there are a number of business sub processes within the product life cycle management process that need micro management to ensure a successful product launch or assortment range introduction.

Planning Disconnects between Retailer and Manufacturer

Each new season brings the challenge of developing a final assortment plan which should be based on extensive discussions and research with suppliers, manufacturers and retailers. As the apparel supply chain is quite deep and complex involving multiple stakeholders, successful product transitions are a function of the level of involvement between the retailer and manufacturers. The lack of information sharing by the retailer can directly impact on a manufacturers production capacity, material availability, lead-times etc which leads to delays in supply and a fragmented introduction of assortment plans to market.

Other industries supply chains are less complex as retailers are only measured on what they can physically sell and it is quite rare for an entire range to be launched each season. Unfortunately, the apparel industry tends to operate on an opening order concept where 50% of a range may be sold at once and the remaining 50% of an order is sold for future delivery. The challenge for retailers is to trade off less inventory against lost sales.

7 Tips: "How to improve your Apparel business"

  1. Professional sourcing and supplier qualification of apparel manufacturers to ensure that your source of supply will be able to meet the fluctuating demands of this industry by providing high levels of response, rapid design and redesign capability, manufacturing stability, quality assurance and scalability.
  2. Ensure that your vendor implements performance metrics:
    1. AQL (Acceptable Quality Level) enables the buyer to inspect the batch prior to despatch ex factory.
    2. RFT (Right first time) is similar where the manufacturer monitors process and sub processes to ensure output is within AQL.
    3. Rework KPI which measures the volume, frequency and cost of any rework that originates from retail level within a warehouse.
  3. Implement the right supply chain technology that connects your multi echelon supply chain from source(s) of supply to final retailer(s) where data exchange can be seamless.
  4. Demand management collaboration from product concept to product introduction is more effective on an integrated supply chain technology platform as all stakeholders are able to pass valuable data back to the manufacturer which will improve speed and integrity for the development phase of your assortment range.
  5. Implement the right inventory management and replenishment strategy that enables effective stock management and control of your inventory investment. An integrated supply chain technology platform will provide you with greater visibility and opportunity to achieve your stock reduction targets.
  6. Implement an effective CRM process where customer complaints are captured to monitor quality nonconformance. Escalation to a buyer may be necessary if the control limits are exceeded.
  7. Implement the right distribution network that is able to support high levels of flexibility to service direct to store or direct to warehouse or DC at the right cost for your business
 

Improve apparel product life cycle and assortment planning