With fashion weeks across the globe (in New York, London, Paris, and Milan) rolling out new designer trends several times a year, there is no question that fashion is incredibly fast. Increasingly shorter seasonal trade periods accelerate business and progressively make the relevance of styles even harder to attain. And as digitization dominates, the modern customer journey no longer follows a traditional linear path, instead following multiple channels and touch points.
As a company with ties to every major retail and apparel player in the industry, SAP is at the center of the action. As such it has been incumbent upon the company to outfit its customers with disruptive technologies that both enable competitive edge in the market and relevance with consumers. Espedia is one such technology that has proven immensely valuable to SAP’s retail customers, providing them with new analytics, business processes, sentiment data processing, and predictive capabilities.
Want to learn how Espedia achieved early success? See the fashion industry through the startup’s eyes.
Fashion is a moving target
The fashion industry faces complex problems, so first start with foundational knowledge of the elements that go into designing, manufacturing, and distributing garments:
1. Brand: this is the high level definition of a company’s product portfolio (think Armani Casa, Armani Kids, Armani Jeans, Giorgio Armani, etc.).
2. Season/Collection: for every collection there are several seasons developed throughout the course of one year (typically there are 2-6 seasons/year).
3. Model: is the look and feel of the material used for a specific product (e.g. a pair of jeans texture in “stone washed”).
4. Style: is the physical designation of a fashion item (e.g. the appearance of a pair of trousers).
5. Size and colors: are usually the two dimensions of a garment.
6. SKU (stock keeping unit): is the final element needed in ERP to manage the logistical flows; this is usually a combination of the garment’s model/aspect/size/color.
With increasing digitization and other factors, the rules of the fashion and apparel industry game are changing. Three disruptive changes make the production of garments which satisfy customers- in style, quality, and speed of delivery- a challenge.
• Fast Fashion: a new business model requiring a dramatic reduction of time between a new product idea and its realization on the market.
• Customers Rule: smart phones and other mobile appliances put the customer in a central position. Having real time information about the customer’s sentiment is crucial for designers and product portfolio managers.
• Delocalization: guaranteeing forecasted margins requires a permanent focus on costs during the entire lifecycle of a product, especially if manufacturing has been outsourced to other countries. Real time management of all modifications and an update of raw and semi-finished material products is essential.
Espedia Solution Overview
It is clear that the fashion and apparel industry needs new solutions to overcome rapidly changing market conditions. In order to survive and satisfy dynamic consumer trends, the fashion and apparel industry is in dire need of an adaptive, comprehensive approach. Espedia’s solution delivers a set of cutting edge tools and better insight in the following ways:
Mood Board Management: a set of functions, both mobile and web browser-based, to capture customer sentiment, trends and all other non-structured information needed to define the “mood” of a new collection.
Product Portfolio Management: organizing the product portfolio for the new collection by the brands, market, and lines involved.
Product Data Management: managing the basic data needed to transform the product idea into a SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) to be transferred to ERP/SCM systems in order to support the mass production process.
Product Lifecycle Analysis: managing the product costs along the entire lifecycle of the garment, providing real time analysis of cost modifications, coming from different sources of data
• Real time trend and customer sentiment information is delivered to designers via social media, to better align new products to brand identity and rapidly evolving trends.
• Fast search engine capability of all product data, raw materials characteristics, supplier information which helps designers to develop fashion products faster and with higher quality than exists today.
• Real time alerts and reporting for product cost modifications, whether they occur in the internal production phase or in geographical distributed network of suppliers