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. I’ll discuss the high-level benefits of integrating Fashion PLM and Retail Planning within a comprehensive fashion supply chain solution in this article.

What is Fashion PLM?

Fashion PLM is a solution designed to manage a product’s lifecycle, from concept generation, through design and manufacturing, to final product inspection. Integrating with a Retail Planning solution will include the final steps of selling and retirement. Integrating with further supply chain solutions allows the workflow to be managed through more lifecycle stages to control and organise all the product-related data necessary for every step in the fashion production process. It promotes efficient communication and collaboration among different teams involved in the fashion lifecycle.

Optimising Planning with Fashion PLM

Planning in the fashion industry involves an intricate process that covers market analysis, concept creation, collection planning, and assortment planning. With the help of Fashion PLM and the collation of a more comprehensive data set, this process can be streamlined and optimised. 

Market Analysis: Fashion PLM can be integrated to collate a broad scope of current and historical data from non-transactional and transactional data sets and connected with robust analytics capabilities to help understand market trends, customer preferences, and competitor strategies. The insights can be used to plan products and sourcing strategies catering to the current market demand.

Concept Creation: Fashion PLM facilitates concept creation by providing a centralised platform where designers can share ideas, sketches, and initial designs, and merchandisers can share budgets, market analysis, sales analysis, consumer feedback, and initial line planning to foster better collaboration.

Collection Planning: Fashion PLM can help optimise collection planning by providing a clear overview of all planned products, including their design specifics, materials development, sourcing strategies, and cost breakdowns.

Assortment Planning: With Fashion PLM, you can easily view and manage your range plan, ensuring that your collection has the right mix of products to cater to various customer segments and preferences. 

Visual planning tools that connect structured and non-structured data can significantly streamline these processes by enabling better collaboration with creative teams.

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Photo by The Nix Company on Unsplash

Optimising Inventory with Fashion PLM

Managing inventory in the fashion industry can be complex due to seasonal trends, product variations, supply chain disruptions, and shifting customer preferences. Fashion PLM software can assist in optimising inventory management through the following:

Accurate Forecasting: Historical sales data and real-time sales information that is pushed to the Retail Planning solution to derive demand forecasting can be integrated with Fashion PLM and the wider collated data set to include sourcing strategies, manufacturing capacity, supply chain performance, and early indication of global disruptions to create more accurate demand forecasts.

Real-time Inventory Visibility: The ERP-Retail Planning-Fashion PLM integration gives you a real-time overview of your inventory across multiple locations, accessible by distributed teams via their core solution user interface. This helps teams better collaborate to make timely and informed decisions, preventing overstocking or stockouts.

Supply Chain Visibility: The status and ETA of products in the supply chain are as important as the view of sales and inventory. Visibility of the supply chain performance and early identification of disruptions across the global supply chain enables early decisions to modify orders, move manufacturing locations, or switch product options to maintain an optimum inventory and maximise full-price sales.

Effective Inventory Classification: With a seamless connection between Retail Planning and Fashion PLM, you can efficiently categorise your inventory based on product type, season, sales velocity, supply chain performance, and more. This can help you prioritise your stock and make informed decisions about replenishment.

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Optimising Replenishment with PLM

Effective replenishment is critical to maintaining customer satisfaction and optimising full-price sales. Integrating Fashion PLM providing tools and data that can streamline and optimise this process:

Automated Replenishment: A connected Retail Planning and Fashion PLM can automatically trigger replenishment orders based on your inventory levels and sales velocity, ensuring you never run out of best-selling items.

Supplier Management: Fashion PLM software can maintain a database of suppliers, their lead times, pricing, and performance metrics, aiding in selecting the best supplier for replenishment needs.

Multi-channel Replenishment: With a Retail Planning and Fashion PLM integrated solution, you can efficiently plan and manage replenishment across physical and digital channels.

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash


Fashion PLM is a powerful tool that, when integrated with Retail Planning, ERP, and other fashion supply chain solutions and processes, can significantly streamline and enhance planning, inventory management, and replenishment processes. To unlock its full potential, businesses should properly integrate the Fashion PLM tool within their fashion supply chain solutions to transform their supply chain into a digital value chain, adequately train their teams, and continuously review and improve their processes. By doing so, fashion companies can increase operational efficiency, reduce costs, and more effectively cater to customers' needs.

If you'd like to discuss this topic in more detail, feel free to reach out to me


After originally training and working as an engineer, Chris joined a fashion services and technology company 30 years ago to implement ISO9001. Since then, he has helped drive transformation projects for over a hundred fashion brands, retailers, sourcing agents, and manufacturers to optimize their processes, supported by innovative technologies and concepts, working in offices, showrooms, and factories world-wide.

Also published on Linkedin: Harnessing the Power of Fashion PLM: Optimising Planning, Inventory, and ReplenishmentThe Challenges and Opportunities of Streamlining Fashion’s Creative Processes (LinkedIn)