Managing thousands of SKUs in apparel and footwear along with numerous suppliers across multiple seasons are just some of the obstacles to overcome to successfully launch new products in the retail industry. Understanding the voice of the customer--in the product lifecycle management world, that's called customer needs management--is of paramount importance as well.
As Tim Gunn, chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne, says: apparel manufacturers are "moments away from commodity hell," and product design needs to be democratized across sourcing, production, manufacturing, and even the end consumer so that the voice of customer is heard. This doesn't mean simply reacting to customer needs, but rather sharing designs and concepts to ultimately get to the point where apparel manufacturers and retailers know their customers so well they can anticipate needs and preferences.
When asked which processes retailers look to PLM to support, their top responses are "concept testing" and "research and development." Additionally, 42 percent of retail companies feel they need to better manage portfolios of products through effective calendaring and line planning.
Across all industry sectors, respondents reported that product launches fail when products don't meet customer needs. For retailers, 68 percent report they would look to improve idea generation in their PLM process within the next 12 months, and 74 percent indicate that customer needs assessment should be included.
Source: AMR Research, http://amrresearch.com
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