Gone are the days when the fashion industry is driven only by art or by its designer. Today, it has grown into a multi-billion industry and just like any other multi-billion sector, businesses are driven by the fast changing tastes of customers, competition from rival brands, how efficient internal processes are and how fast can you bring ideas into your sales channels.
These are information age challenges that need to be addressed with an information age solution. There is no better way to answer these challenges than with technology. Here are the software that fashion companies need to survive in today's fast-moving age - the enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), ecommerce and analytic software.
Imagine if you can have a solution that would allow you to have a bird's eye view of warehousing, production, sales, accounting and finances and procurement and you can see how every item goes from your production up to your stores. This is all possible with a fashion ERP solution.
ERP solutions are dime-a-dozen. You can easily select the best one that suits your business so that instead of your company needing to adapt to the software, it is the software that will have to adapt based on your ongoing business processes.
When selecting a software for enterprise resource planning, your fashion business will need at the very least procurement management to minimize acquisition costs, warehouse management to optimize inventory and purchasing, production management to streamline production and cut costs, sales management to drive revenue and increase customer satisfaction and project accounting and billing to increase profitability.
Preferably, these should all be managed under a single "Master Database" that will allow you to see the relationship of each piece of information. Out of all the solutions presented in this article, the ERP is your priority.
You can finally delete those messy and complicated contact spreadsheets. With fashion CRM solutions, your business can now organize them into contacts, leads, potential opportunities and customers. Each contact can then be moved from one level to the other and will allow you to personalize your communication more.
This solution allows your marketing campaigns to be more effective. At the same time, leads that couldn't be turned into customers in the past, can be nurtured into customers with more targeted communication.
You can even find CRMs that allow you to link your products and special prices and discounts offered to specific contacts. Some even allow you to link them with your ERP which enables you to extend your ERP's functionality and coordinates your activities more.
The increasing trend towards omnichannel retail means that at the very least, you should have an online sales channel to capture those who shop from their desktops and mobile phones and other devices. But it isn't enough to have a website that has a web store function.
You need a proper fashion ecommerce platform. This allows you to have an overview of your customers, your price lists, products as well as records for your invoices. A proper ecommerce platform also prevents duplication of information or having to insert the same information twice over different systems.
Aside from back-end functionalities, some ecommerce platforms also enhance customer experience of the portal which is very important if you consider that your portal is basically your store.
Some platforms may have content management systems that can showcase your products most effectively, manage inventory, targeted buying options, segmentation and personalization of offers. When you select your ecommerce solution, you have to make sure that its functionalities include at least some of the current trends and best practices of the day.
Do you find yourself having to wait for days or even weeks to get reports on your business? Imagine if you can get reports in real time. Imagine the number of unsuccessful campaigns, projects or activities that could have been stopped before they wasted any more money.
Fashion companies are prey to the whims of the fast-changing trends. Presenting timely products that speak to customers and what they want may sound difficult but is now possible with fashion business intelligence and analytics solutions.
With business analytics and intelligence, companies can evaluate the performance of their business in real time and allow them to reach promptly to the changes in the market. Some of these platforms specialize in presenting vast amounts of data in a simple, interactive and visually-appealing way allowing you to understand the situation immediately.
Sure! This is all great but aren't they expensive?
Nope. Not at all.
Sure, the first IT solutions were expensive. They may have required expensive hardware aside from other software costs. But these are proprietary systems. This dilemma brought forward open source technology. The nature of open source allows open source ERPs and CRMs etc. to be vastly more affordable both in the short-term initial start-up costs and long-term costs. The birth of cloud technology also meant that you no longer need expensive hardware to host your softwares. Just a browser and some good PCs or devices are enough.
Okay. But what if I want all of these above? Can I get all these solutions (CRM, ERP, ecommerce and business analytics) in a cloud-based and open source form that specializes in the fashion industry?
Yes, you can!
To find out more about your open source and cloud-based fashion business suite, download our Openbravo enVogue fact sheet.