Like many consumers, those who work in the fashion industry are held enthralled by the consumer facing, front end solutions. Glowing retail shops dot the internet landscape nearly endlessly today. They are designed to make us take note of the things that are going on in the fashion world today and they are succeeding admirably.
The problems is, at least according to Eddie Mullen, CEO of Fashion GPS, we have unlimited power to transform and to change the back end of fashion too that is currently unused in many companies.
We have the technology to create new ways to drive efficiency and to accelerate our processes and to up our game—yet many companies haven’t embraced it.
The early 80s saw auto companies embracing software such as Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP software, along with Product Lifecycle Management or PLM software. In the mid-ninties, Fashion and Retail as an industry began to follow the leader and to use those technologies, or ones like them, to evaluate and to improve the overall efficiency with which they were doing business. It was a match made in heaven and the Fashion and Retail industry saw huge benefits from it.
In 2015 ERP has advanced at a very rapid rate, but the innovations that we expected to see in the heart of the fashion industry technology have been lacking. To some extent, they have stagnated. Where collaboration and unique and innovative ideas are possible, many are not in use.
The type of systems that we're talking about are costly, time-consuming, and tedious to update. Given the very nature of the fashion business as one that is largely decentralized, it would be even more onerous an undertaking for them.
The challenge isn't just updating and upgrading the software and the services, but updating the attitudes as well to support a more innovative and intuitive system. In order for the fashion industry to compete on a level playing field with other industries, they must adopt newer and more agile methods of operation, integrating with unique technologies both inside their company as well as outside.
Traditional ERP solutions have failed to evolve rapidly enough in some cases, putting many companies at a disadvantage, while other, older companies may not have taken advantage of the evolution that did take place, putting them in dire straits.
No one is able to reasonably predict what fashion retail and wholesale will look like five or ten years from now. What does seem a reasonable prediction is that given what we’re seeing now is that it will be vastly more complex. Given the need for big data to allow fashion to move forward with other industries, technology investments in the fashion and retail industry will be imperative for companies who are serious about industry collaboration.
Technology--the right technology, will transform not only how we do business, but how well we do business.
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Photo: Fashion and Mash