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Calm The Chaos Part 1: Retail is a Symphony

4 min read
Jun 10, 2022 1:56:09 PM

Product lifecycle management is a complicated orchestra.

Consumer expectations are on the rise. Can your business keep up? It isn’t an easy proposition in the modern retail landscape. On one side of product lifecycle management, you have overwhelmed retailers sourcing thousands of new products, or working to design new products with their teams. They’re juggling tasks like determining product sizes, shapes, colors and variations. At the same time, they’re trying to evaluate existing data on their previous product lines’ performance to make more informed production decisions. 

On the other side, you have suppliers and brands trying to get the needed information to their buyers as quickly and efficiently as possible. In the middle are the outdated tools and data stuck in excel, PDF, and emails that remain inaccessible to those who need it. It’s no wonder why managers and teams have little insight into how decisions are made and why changes happen. They’re stuck trying to address issues as they arise, rather than optimizing the chaos for the long haul. 

What the retail world needs is a conductor, in the form of a PLM tool that enables them to communicate with external vendors. Just like a maestro that handles the tempo and timing of a symphony while balancing out the cellos and flutes, a good PLM solution enables its users to manage the chaos in stride, calm that chaos, and ultimately control the flow of the product lifecycle. So you can spend more time on the parts of your job you love the most.

The planning phase is critical

The art of retail is understanding your customer. For assortment planning to be customer-centric, it needs to be a combination of data, new trends and a merchant’s gut instinct. Putting out a fire –– such as a delay in production, lost product data, or a team member calling in sick –– without looking at its root cause may fix the short-term emergency, but it does not solve the long-term internal and external problems that caused the fire in the first place. In order to solve both short and long-term problems, it is important to have a plan to act upon in place.

The retail planning process is the heart of the buyer’s role. It's the part of the job that most of us in the retail world would love to spend more time on. It gives buyers and merchandisers a chance to view the organizational process holistically to identify where change is needed. 

As a buyer, you need the ability to collect data quickly. Real-time data enables you to hone in on your target market. Once you understand your customer and your product’s key value proposition for them, you’ll be able to predict trends. You can also use quantitative analytics to determine which products to source, quantities to purchase, product details, and more. 

Assortment planning is an important step toward calming the chaos of your product lifecycle processes. Having data is one thing. How you apply it towards your buy is something different.

Get ready to execute your vision

Once you’ve taken the time to carefully plan out your next seasonal product line, the next step is working with your vendors and suppliers. You’ll need to review product assortments, request RFQs, place orders, and make changes – and that’s just a smidgen of the collaboration and negotiation that have to take place before you get the product to market. You can’t do this effectively when your product data is siloed in excel, PDF, and emails. Having the right product lifecycle management software in place – with the right import/export tools, external vendor management features, and integrations – is critical to the continued success of your business. 

A PLM solution should incorporate every one of your team members – including your business partners – so that they can bring the information that they are responsible for to the collaboration process. Enabling you to interface with external partners on one platform is the single most vital attribute of a successful PLM tool. It allows you to have reliable information at your fingertips at the moment you need it, without having to work through emails, PDFs and external systems to find it. 

What’s more, a PLM stores historical data as a digital asset, so you can easily refer back to the information when planning your next cycle. 

The sooner you invest, the sooner you reap the benefits

With hundreds of suppliers inundating buyers and so much displaced data to reel in, buyers often place their researching software needs on the back burner during the planning process. We get it. Even when you know there’s a better way of doing things, it’s easy to get caught up in a decision making gridlock. 

Think about the time you spend evaluating PLM solutions as an investment in your future. The time you put into choosing the right PLM system today will pay dividends in time and revenue down the line. You will save precious billable hours handling administrative tasks, like PO worksheet generation and digging through Excel spreadsheets to discover the source of errors. This is all time you can invest back into your planning next season. So you have the bandwidth to make more strategic sourcing decisions. 

If you’re ready to stock shelves with the hot-ticket items customers are clamoring for, start looking into PLM solutions. The right platform will ease your tedious daily processes. The result? Better products. More full price sales. Higher ROI. And these are just some of the myriad ways that the right PLM solution will help your business grow. 

Eradicate chaos with a data-based strategy

The retail world is chaotic. It’s not easy to divine what exactly you’re going to buy, when, how, where, and from whom. There is a gamut of constantly shifting factors out of your control that make this vocation harder than advertised. Fortunately, with the right product lifecycle management software, you can adjust your strategy quickly and stay on track –– with all of your data, external partners, and internal communications in one place.

It’s time we got better acquainted. Book a custom demo with one of our Product Lifecycle Management experts today!

Product lifecycle management is a quickly evolving industry with a lot of moving parts. We do all of the research, so you don’t have to. Stay ahead of news & trends by subscribing to our Product Lifecycle Management Blog.

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