Fashion Digital Value Chain Newsletter: Driving Digital Transformation in the Fashion Supply Chain - Leveraging Fashion PLM


Welcome to the first newsletter, which explores how Fashion PLM can support business strategies to drive growth by transforming complex processes in the fashion supply chain into a digital value chain.

There are many drivers for the transformation to a digital value chain, such as increasing competitiveness, generating more significant market share, reducing overproduction, and improving sustainability, with many strategies and tactics that could be employed. Still, the execution of these strategies has a common approach and outcome: defining streamlined business processes and supporting effective workflows with relevant technology to improve productivity through collaboration and provide visibility and traceability to enable more effective decision-making, leading to increased profits.

I discuss some of the drivers for visibility and traceability on the Zero Carbon Academy website: Article: The Drivers for Visibility and Traceability in the Fashion Industry: Illuminating the Road Ahead |

In this newsletter, I use some of my recent articles to provide examples of eight business strategies for growth via digital transformation supported by an integrated Fashion PLM solution. Historically, visibility within the fashion supply chain has been poor, contributing to many of the industry's challenges. To solve this issue, many complex supply chain processes must be mapped, and the primary data generated by these processes must be captured and centralised to provide the insights required to measure, then define and track improvements. Once those large data sets are available, there is also great promise from Generative AI to assist our teams in making the best decisions in much shorter timelines. 

The industry will face many challenges and disruptions during an exciting period that will lead to significant change for the fashion industry.

Prerequisite: Integration is essential to enable a Digital Value Chain

Opinion Editorial: Why Integrations To PLM Are Driving Digital Transformation In Fashion |

Suppose a Fashion PLM solution will be the hub of a fully connected digital value chain. In that case, it will need to integrate with different applications and data sources that support the sixty-plus sets of processes that comprise the fashion supply chain. 

Learn about the broad scope of the 'Retail Galaxy's non-transactional 'solar system', what's important to consider for integrations, and understand a few examples of process data integrations and the challenges to consider, such as labour costing, colour standards, and greenhouse gas emissions. There are suggestions for actions required to enable seamless data sharing and informed decision-making across the supply chain. You can read the editorial contribution to the Fashion PLM Report 2023 on The Interline website.

Retail's non-transactional 'solar system'. Credit: WhichPLM

Example Business Strategies that Fashion PLM can support

1) Improve Speed to Market and Demand Forecast Accuracy with more effective decision-making in the creative processes

Blog: The Challenges and Opportunities of Streamlining Fashion’s Creative Processes |

In recent years, there have been many improvements in the creative processes of the fashion supply chain thanks to new DPC-3D tools streamlining processes, enabling faster decisions, and requiring fewer physical samples.

However, in most fashion companies, are creative processes truly streamlined to enable the most efficient collaboration between designers, merchandising, sales, and sourcing? Do the current methods enable effective and rapid decision-making? Historically, the answer is no, and it has been one of the most significant challenges to Fashion PLM user adoption since the original Fashion PDM solutions over 30 years ago.

This article discusses how integrating Fashion PLM with specialist solutions can be the most effective method to raise productivity and enable more effective decision-making.

Photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash

2) Reduce costs and drive sales by optimising Product Quality and Compliance

Blog: How Fashion PLM Can Optimise Product Quality and Compliance |

In the fashion industry, maintaining high product quality and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards are critical factors for success. Indeed, poor sizing and fit are often suggested as a reason for the mismatch between supply and demand, creating the highly publicised 'mountains' of apparel overproduction.

However, managing product quality and compliance across complex supply chains can take time and effort. Fashion Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems have emerged as powerful tools that enable fashion brands and retailers to optimise product quality and improve collaboration to ensure compliance throughout product development.

In this article, I explore how Fashion PLM can streamline quality management, boost cooperation in compliance processes, improve product integrity, customer satisfaction, and brand reputation, and reduce costs from errors and product returns due to defects or sizing and fit issues.

Photo by Call Me Fred on Unsplash

3) Maximise margin by connecting Retail Planning and PLM to optimise Planning, Inventory and Replenishment

Blog: Harnessing the Power of Fashion PLM: Optimising Planning, Inventory, and Replenishment |

The fast-paced nature of the fashion industry demands a meticulous and highly dynamic approach to planning, inventory, and replenishment. Fashion Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software can be integrated to add tools and data insights to simplify and streamline these processes, making them more efficient and effective. 

This article discusses the benefits of integrating Fashion PLM and Retail Planning within a comprehensive fashion supply chain solution.

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

4) Increase full-price sales and reduce unsold products by integrating Fashion PLM to improve Demand Forecasting accuracy

Blog: How Fashion PLM Can Enable Faster and More Accurate Demand Forecasting |

The fashion industry operates in a rapidly changing and highly competitive environment. Not only do consumer behaviour, market trends, supply chains, technology and geopolitical situations continuously change, but there are also sustainability challenges which the fashion industry must urgently overcome. To succeed in this landscape, fashion brands and retailers must accurately forecast demand and respond swiftly to consumer trends and supply chain disruptions.

There is clear evidence that an enormous mismatch between supply and demand in the Fashion Industry generates vast 'mountains' of discarded apparel. Not only is this costly for Brands and Manufacturers, but also legislation is being introduced to ban the discarding or destruction of unsold textiles. This applies more pressure to resolve the core issue and produce more accurate demand forecasting.

Traditional demand forecasting methods often need to catch up due to their time-consuming nature and reliance on manual processes. However, connecting Retail Planning and Fashion Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems can revolutionise demand forecasting in a fashion business.

This article explores how Fashion PLM can enable faster and more accurate demand forecasting, empowering fashion businesses to make data-driven decisions and meet customer demands effectively.

Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

5) Raise productivity and reduce costly errors via improved collaboration and communication with suppliers and partners

Blog: Leveraging Fashion PLM to Enhance Collaboration and Communication with Suppliers and Partners |

The importance of effective collaboration and communication with suppliers and partners cannot be understated. The seamless integration of design, sourcing, development, production, and distribution processes hinges on these critical interactions. This is where Fashion Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems come in. They provide a centralised platform to manage all information and workflow processes related to a product's lifecycle, enabling better communication and collaboration.

This premise has been the core benefit and ‘raison d'être’ since the first Fashion PDM systems were created over 30 years ago. However, as the speed of change in fashion continues to build and new challenges grow in scale, this simple objective is more critical than ever.

This article is a reminder of why and how you can leverage a Fashion PLM system to boost your collaborations and enhance communication.

Photo by Sam Moghadam Khamseh on Unsplash

6) Augment Customer Experience and Loyalty through Fashion PLM

Blog: Augmenting Customer Experience and Loyalty through Fashion PLM |

In the competitive landscape of the fashion industry, customer experience and loyalty have become the key differentiators. An exceptional customer experience doesn't just start when a customer walks into a store or visits an online platform; it begins right from product conception. This is where Fashion Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) comes in. PLM is crucial in managing all aspects of a product's lifecycle, enabling brands to deliver quality, personalised experiences that promote customer loyalty.

This article provides an overview of how Fashion PLM can be harnessed to enhance customer experience and loyalty.

Photo by Cleo Vermij on Unsplash

7) Business Growth through diversification in new products and new markets

Blog: Expanding Horizons: How an Integrated Fashion PLM Solution Facilitates Brands in Tapping New Product Categories and Markets |

Agility, adaptability, and foresight are critical to staying relevant and profitable in an ever-evolving fashion landscape. Brands often look to diversify their offerings or enter new geographical markets to grow their footprint. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) tools tailored for the fashion industry and effectively integrated within a connected solution can be the lynchpin for success in these ventures.

This article highlights eight benefits an integrated Fashion PLM solution can provide to aid brands in seamlessly launching new product categories and penetrating fresh markets.

Photo by mohammed saif on Unsplash

8) Increase full-price sales and reduce unsold products utilising Manufacturing on Demand

Blog: Fashion PLM and Manufacturing on Demand |

The fashion industry faces many challenges in the 21st century, such as changing consumer demands, environmental and social impacts, and global competition. Reducing the 'mountains' of discarded apparel generated by the mismatch between supply and demand is no longer only a cost argument but will soon be a regulatory requirement. One of the ways to address these challenges is to adopt new technologies and business models that enable more efficient, flexible, and sustainable production. 

This article explores how Fashion PLM and Manufacturing on Demand can work together within a real-time digital supply chain that connects design, development, sourcing, and manufacturing. We will also discuss the benefits and challenges of this approach and some examples of successful implementations.

Speedfactory. Credit: Adidas

Moving forward: How to evaluate Fashion PLM to drive your digital transformation

Blog: Choosing the Fashion PLM Solution for Your Business: Essentials Checklist |

Suppose you are looking for a Fashion PLM solution to help you streamline your operations and boost your efficiency. This article provides a checklist of essential tasks for choosing a Fashion PLM solution that suits business needs and goals.

It covers aspects such as assessing your business needs, prioritising key features, evaluating usability and training, comparing configuration options, researching vendor reputation and client reviews, analysing cost and ROI, ensuring data security and compliance, and usability testing the software.

"Fashion PLM solutions evaluation" powered by DALL·E 3

Future opportunities for greater efficiency

Generative AI has great promise to aid our teams in significantly raising productivity and enabling more effective decision-making. Fashion companies are already using generative AI for simple use cases. However, there is enormous potential to enable Generative Design by Impact, where data from across the organisation and supply chain is aligned with consumer behaviour data and trend analysis insights to provide options for merchandise plans, including supply options, timelines, costs, prices, intro dates, and potential profit, to streamline design,  sourcing development, and selection significantly. The essential pre-requisite is connecting processes and capturing primary data from across the supply chain to provide the learning data for the AI models.

Article: The Future of Generative AI in Fashion |

The article I wrote for Zero Carbon Academy investigates how AI, specifically Generative AI, could benefit the Fashion industry.

"Generative AI in the Fashion Industry" powered by DALL·E 3 

Author Chris Jones

For over three decades, Chris has helped global brands, retailers, and manufacturers align people, processes, and technology, driving transformation projects to maximise business impact.

This article is also published on the website: Fashion Digital Value Chain Newsletter - Driving Digital Transformation in the Fashion Supply Chain - Leveraging Fashion PLM (