How ‘Best of Breed Software’ and connected systems can help Fashion Businesses improve
Best of breed software in the fashion industry is no longer a new or unexplored concept. In fact, naturally, this spread of technology is rapidly emerging as one of the most efficient and effective ways to streamline day-to-day operations, boost agility, and empower staff to achieve more as each have exactly what they need.
Today, there is a solution for almost every need. And reports show that businesses are really making the most of this, with the average organisation using no less than 110 different digital tools. Fashion companies especially are using various tools to help in everything from product management to order processing, sales, and much more.
With the industry being so diverse and complex, it’s unlikely that there will ever be a single solution that does it all; that tackles absolutely everything a business needs it to. And so, the use of multiple systems in the workplace is, in one way, a benefit. It means that each department can use a tool specifically designed for their own operations; specifically designed to help them navigate their own challenges.
But there are problems, too. Most notably, the data silo.
Data Silos in the Fashion Industry
When every department is working with their own niche system, everyone is working in silos. And, as new challenges continue to emerge, another new silo is introduced each and every time new software is implemented to solve these challenges.
What this means is that every department has its own system, with its own data.
This is problematic.
Data science is becoming an increasingly vital part of the fashion industry. From sustainability to product development, and everything in between, data matters. But how much can we really put our trust in the data that exists within these silos?
There are a few aspects to consider here. Firstly, the fact that data must be inputted manually into each different system, increasing the risk of error. Secondly, the fact that data won’t always be inputted, updated, or managed at the same time across each different system, resulting in discrepancies and poor quality information.
Ultimately, there’s no single source of truth.
Without a single source of truth, it becomes difficult – if not impossible – to derive any meaningful, real time insight into operations. It becomes challenging to make smart, data-driven decisions for the organisation’s present, and for its potential future.
A ‘Combined’ Solution
It’s clear that we need to identify a way to enable different departments to keep using role-specific tools that meet their needs precisely. But we also need to eradicate data silos. The solution? Combining best of breed compatible software.
McKinsey states that creating a centralised data environment using compatible software is the way forward, noting that ‘to operate more efficiently, brands could consider breaking down the silos that have defined many digitisation programs and integrating multiple back-end systems, workflows, and data functions’.
Compatible tools are able to ‘talk’ to each other. While they are still separate, distinct, and standalone systems, they’re able to seamlessly share data across the network. This means that data only needs to be inputted once, and ensures that everyone, no matter what system they’re using, has access to the same information. The data simply flows through the different systems – all in the background – so that it’s available to who needs it, wherever they need it, and when they need it.
Benefits of combining systems include:
- Ability for all employees to see the ‘big picture’
- Opportunities to make decisions quickly based on real time data
- Less administration and improved productivity
- Accurate reporting for deeper insights
As the landscape becomes more and more competitive, having access to more accurate data is crucial. Having a single source of truth could be just what businesses need to gain a strong and powerful advantage over their competitors.
How Does a Combined Approach Work?
To examine the ins and outs of a combined network more thoroughly, we’re going to explore the example of bringing a few popular fashion-related digital systems together: WFX Product Management with Katana MRP, Colect.io, and Shopify.
In this instance, the flow would look a little something like this…
Step 1: Katana receives orders from Colect.io, or from Shopify
Step 2: Product data from WFX is used to plan for production
Step 3: Required raw materials are automatically purchased
Step 4: Katana receives goods and updates Shopify/Colect.io
Step 5: Shopify and Colect.io handle all sales activities
This all happens behind the scenes, with the different systems sharing data automatically and pulling down the information they need, when they need it.
And it can go even further than that. Above, we’ve shown a very brief summary of the ordering, production, and sales process. But with so many integrations available, it’s possible to build an entirely connected network encompassing financial systems, HR systems, payroll systems, capacity planning systems, business systems, and more.
Have Confidence in Your Data
Sticking with the example used above, imagine having full confidence that the product and component data in Katana was 100% accurate, knowing that it’s been pulled down through WFX, where it’s already been approved and verified by the product team. Imagine being able to give production planners that extra confidence that they’re making accurate purchasing decisions based on accurate forecasting. It’s something many companies strive for, yet rarely seem to achieve.
With a combined approach to fashion technology, it’s a goal that’s within reach.