Introduction of Virtual dressing rooms using augmented reality technology applicable in apparel, footwear, and fashion industry might blow you off your feet. The technology uses shoppers’ webcams or phone cameras to reflect how clothes or accessories will look like on their bodies in the form of real-time videos. It is undoubtedly a revolution to bring customer more close to you, but even before that it is imperative that your retail apparel store becomes a known name, has decent walk in and your web store has registered its presence in the minds of online shoppers. Moreover, you need to strive for constant innovation, have sufficient stock levels and the regulated supply of fast moving apparel styles so that the customers indulge in repetitive buying.
Now the question arises, how? The answer is simple and straight; with the help of Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP. ERP in apparel merchandising offers businesses unlimited benefits in streamlining operations, helping organisations to plan intelligently and work on a unified, seamless platform for greater operational efficiency. Here we present seven compelling reasons for adopting ERP in Apparel Industry even before you deploy the technology of virtual dressing rooms.
- Enhanced Planning and Supply Chain Control: According to a study by BCG and Facebook, apparel industry covers 47% of the total Indian Fashion catalog and India’s online fashion commerce is expected to grow fourfold to $30 billion (nearly Rs 2 lakh crore) by 2020. Considering the prominent boom in the industry, the retailers must remain prepared with a sufficient stock of all sizes, colours, and styles. Consumers want to see the red carpet outfit of their favourite celebrity in the stores within days or weeks. This means an exponential growth in collections, product ranges, SKUs (stock keeping units), and packaging options, all of which can put pressure on the supply chain and create complexity in sourcing, planning, production, and fulfillment. Since retailers and fashion brands have very long and sensitive supply chains, ERP ensures timely and efficient delivery of products across all the channels of distribution.
- Significant Cost Reduction: The global recession brought with it a host of challenges for fashion retailers; sluggish buying, rising labour, increased returns and natural fabric costs. It has shrunk the gap between the cost of production and gross profit margins. On the other hand, ERP works on the principle of lean manufacturing that encourages constant value addition along with regulating cost by minimizing the waste. It also cuts down the overall operational costs plus overheads, while the timely procurement of raw materials keeps inventory costs as low as possible. Ultimately, you obtain best quality merchandise at the bare minimum cost leaving sufficient room for substantial margins for the retailers.
- Lesser Time for Order Fulfilment Cycle: When the retailers operate on a number of stores at different locations along with more than one online stores, orders come flowing in via different sources. This leads to confusion in estimating a consolidated demand and prioritizing the deliveries. With ERP, the entire data is in a single database and all the orders along with their specifications and due dates are registered. The system easily consolidates orders, considers forecasts, as well as other sources of demand and supply and subsequently generates production orders; thus the scope for confusion and wrong prioritisation is eliminated.
- Inventory Intelligence: Apparel industry is a slave to seasonal preferences of fashion-conscious shoppers. Hence, the retailers are bound to roll-out their new collection based on seasons, immaterial of the fact that old stock might still be present on the store shelves. With the help of ERP’s inventory management module, stock visibility, inventory intelligence, and operational agility to quickly take the right step have become possible.
- Periodic and Timely Innovation: The ERP for Apparel Industry when coupled with POS system along with the inbuilt BI provides sales reports and advanced analytics for a deep insight about the current trends, which in turn fosters innovation. It not only helps you analyze customer’s inclination well in advance, but also assist in prior planning with the upcoming designs, styles, colours, and sizes.
- Customer’s Sustainability: Consumers today hold the power. Fashion retailers are being forced to become hypersensitive to consumers’ needs and wants. Most of the retailers rely on discounts and half price sale to drive sales. Additionally, fashion retail outlets are providing aggressive discounts on special occasions such as Diwali, New Year, Black Friday, Christmas and Labour Day. Here ERP’s POS module helps you to maintain a healthy profit margin while deciding pricing policies and managing discounts. It ensures that you provide a personalized and immersive shopping experience to your customers.
- Smarter Sales Analytics: Business intelligence for data analysis and predictive analytics make it possible for retailers to optimize nearly every aspect of the business. From supply chain to merchandising to marketing, identifying tastes, preferences, and trends with the help of ERP’s intuitive dashboards and reports, have become the only key to maximise selling and building a solid brand image. Retailers who adopt rigorous data analytics and omnichannel engagement for the market study, certainly have a distinct competitive advantage over their counterparts.
The ERP deployment in the apparel industry is gaining popularity as organizations recognize the value of accurate, unified controls and streamlined operations. ERP also enables businesses to remain competitive in a digital economy, whereas primitive ways of running a business and manual operations on the spreadsheets simply lacked the speed, efficiency, and precision to keep pace. Becoming data-driven is the key to growth and staying ahead of the competition. Hope this article helps you decide that what your retail apparel business needs first, an ERP or a virtual dressing room?