7 Software Solutions Changing the Way Uniform Companies do Business
In today’s world, convenience is no longer a luxury that sits at the bottom of the list of any venture. With the proliferation of technology making so much possible, convenience is a necessity that everyone – businesses and individuals – seek. For the uniform industry, this desire for convenience is seen everywhere along the supply chain; customers demand the ability to choose to buy online or from a retail shop without compromising the experience. Retailers and wholesalers want the convenience of managing their inventory with as little fuss as possible and both suppliers and manufacturers want a timely and predictable supply system that eliminates delays and reduces costs. Not surprisingly, everyone seeks answers in technology. Fortunately, technology has risen to the occasion by making a variety of software available, so companies can take on the traditional challenges faced by the uniform industry.
And the truth is, they do face many challenges in today’s business environment where innovation and customer-centric offerings are highly prized. The major challenge is usually the cost of building proprietary technology. Other challenges include tailoring the businesses to what customers want as well as having a backend system that supports the day-to-day processes of the business including sales, inventory, distribution, order fulfilment, etc. Luckily, all these challenges can be easily circumvented by implementing the right software, and we will examine some of these solutions below:
ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING (ERP)
Imagine the complexity linked to implementing compatible software solutions from different providers for each entity or processes of your business. Getting these different pieces software to work together seamlessly can be chaotic. Now imagine a case where all these applications are packaged in one box. This is what is known as ERP software. ERP pools together important applications in a business’s domain and streamlines them, such that day-to-day activities can be performed in an easy and integrated manner. In the case of uniform businesses, ERP software can have the following features (or applications we should say) such as inventory management, accounting, e-commerce integration, order entry, warehouse management, color/size matrix, and much more. For a business focused on apparel, an ERP solution is the foundation of everything you do. Get it right and it is business heaven, get it wrong and what ensues is loss of time, resources, money and ultimately, customers. For emphasis sake, the benefits of ERP software include:
- The ability to streamline and manage all business processes in one place making all departments easy to track from anywhere in the business.
- Automation, and connected modules provides more accurate and useful data with less human error.
- ERP automation also saves time, which you and your staff can invest in more productive tasks.
- Integrating all your sales channels including, retail stores, shop in shops, ecommerce and online marketplaces makes for more efficient data and inventory management.
PRODUCT LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT (PLM)
In simple terms, PLM ensures that a product uses the least resources – time, material, and money – from inception to delivery to market. With PLM, profit-drains such as operational inefficiencies, slow time-to-market, and production costs are reduced to the bare minimum. This ultimately translates to better margins for businesses when using PLM technology. While PLM stretches across different industries, it offers technology that is particularly unique to the uniform/fashion industry. A typical example of this is the Made-to-Measure system that delivers fitted clothing in unprecedented time. It does this through automation, pattern modification, and order creation. The results are quicker delivery times, optimized material usage, and less error. It is also worth noting that the Made-to-Measure system can be connected to 3D body scanning technology where precise measurements are captured and ultimately manufacture perfectly fitting garments from this data. This has the potential to save uniform companies significant dollars incurred from customer returns due to lack of fit. Another example is the disposition tool that calculates the number of materials required for a particular order based on the pattern.
UNIFORM CLIENT PORTAL
A uniform client portal integrates customer, sales and order management systems for the uniform industry, in such a way that many aspects of the business can be managed simultaneously. Customers can browse beautiful catalogues and order products on any device using a simple login. Better still, the uniform client portal is comprehensive enough to manage not just the client, but also staff, with its embedded administrative features.
ECOMMERCE – ONLINE STORE
E-commerce needs no introduction, as it’s almost a way of life now. It is convenient from the customer’s perspective and has also opened the uniform industry to more opportunities. The integration of ERP software and PLM systems into uniform companies’ eCommerce stores makes online selling easier. This translates into an improved shopping experience for customers too, but the benefits don’t end there. Such integration also greatly improves logistics, making it possible to automatically update inventory as well as automate pick, pack and shipping processes.
SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
While the challenge of increasing profit predominantly lies in increasing revenue, a large chunk of it is also dependent on cutting cost. A proper supply chain management system can help mitigate inadequacies and inefficiencies in the “flow of items and services.” From ensuring raw materials are available when required, to real-time inventory management, the supply chain could do with some automation magic. Increasingly, uniform companies have come to embrace this technology. It should be noted that a supply chain management’s success is based on the data it is fed, especially at the initial development stage.
WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
For effective warehouse management, six things are important: labor, security, inventory, shipping, location and customer management. Warehouse management software helps to automate all the aforementioned. With such a system, uniform companies can avoid delays and errors which can negatively impact supply chain relationships, as well as a company’s ability to fulfill the demands of its customers. Other benefits of warehouse management software include the ability to track who performed which transactions for security purposes, and improved just-in-time record keeping.
BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE (BI)
Business Intelligence software utilizes large amounts of data to provide trends, patterns, opportunities, and other analysis that uniform businesses can use to make data-driven decisions. BI enables the manufacturer to capture and analyze sales information from retail sites, and then leverage that data to quickly take up opportunities that arise, e.g. to supply more products when the retailer is running low. In the past, retailers had to call the manufacturer to place an additional order, otherwise inventory would not be replenished, meaning both parties lost sales. A great BI solution will offer businesses the ability to know in real time what is happening on the sales floor and react immediately, both the manufacturer and the retailer can easily and quickly see opportunities as they arise and seize them accordingly. In other words, BI enables you to stay miles ahead of upcoming business challenges. It also allows you to monitor your own performance against set benchmarks and improve as necessary.
While uniform companies face some unique challenges in today’s fast-paced business world, there is no doubt that such software systems can help them to not only navigate these challenges, but to acquire a competitive advantage that will position them for growth. It therefore makes good business sense that uniform companies should prioritize investment in such technology.