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Top 5 Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Softwares for Fashion: A Comparison

Jan 20

Image: Unsplash

by SupplyCompass in Technology

Product Lifecycle Management or PLM softwares were originally designed for the automotive industry but has been adapted over the decades to service other industries. Due to the complexities of product development and supply chain as well as the ever-present challenges of quality management, speed and cost, the fashion and apparel industry was a clear candidate that could benefit from the top PLM softwares.

PLM/Product Lifecycle Management software was designed to manage all information and processes across a product’s lifecycle across global supply chains. The proposed benefits of product lifecycle management systems are the centralised data from products, documents, requirements, costings, orders, and workflows so that internal teams have visibility across all of their garment production, helping with a level of standardisation, quality management and change management.

It’s a compelling promise, yet all too often it ends up being a huge undertaking and ultimately under-delivers for the end-user, leaving them frustrated with their new product development process. Here we look at a number of the top PLM softwares from the current providers as well as a more agile alternative taking a different approach… (Spoiler Alert: It puts the customer experience first)

CentricSoftware

Centric Software is a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution for the fashion, luxury, and consumer goods industries. It is focused on large multinational businesses and is designed to speed up bringing new products to market, drive margin improvement, enhance global collaboration, and ensure compliance across a global supply chain. Clients include BassProShops, Barco Uniforms, Asics, Build a Bear, and Crocs. Centric is one of the leading software companies for enterprise businesses. As one of the top PLM softwares, It counts many fashion brands among its clients, but it isn’t clear whether it has any features unique to the fashion industry.

Features

  • Change and Compliance Management
  • Cost Tracking
  • Design Management
  • Product Data Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Bill of Materials

Pricing and Onboarding Fees

Not supplied. Pricing per feature.

Usability Rating

4.5/5 (Capterra)

Centric Software Dashboard

Backbone PLM software

Backbone PLM is a platform that helps consumer goods companies manage complex design and product development processes. It was built by designers, for designers and is best suited to businesses who are designing highly complex products. It can be seen as an alternative to CAD software. Clients include Girlfriend Collective, Parachute, Western Rise, and Outdoor Voices.

Features

  • Change and Compliance Management
  • Cost Tracking
  • Design Management
  • Document Management
  • Product Data Management
  • Requirements Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Image and Color Library
  • Bill of Materials
  • BOM Management

Pricing and Onboarding Fees/Implementation time/Usability rating

Not stated

Summary

Backbone PLM is a comprehensive PLM system designed for fashion and consumer goods designers. It’s focused heavily on design requirements, especially creating libraries with reference materials.

Backbone PLM
Backbone PLM

WFX

WFX is a product lifecycle management for the fashion, footwear, and consumer goods industries. It allows companies to centralize product information, linking the entire product lifecycle from sourcing to production. Alerts can be triggered and progress tracked along the way. Create tech packs, plan collections, and track POs for greater visibility. Clients include Oka, Elk, Benetton India, and Forever New.

Features

  • Design and Product Concepts: Capture photos and inspiration on buying trips and trade shows. Add notes and tags on the fly.
  • Adobe Illustrator Connector: Pull libraries from Adobe to spend more time designing and not entering data.
  • Supplier and Product Management

Pricing and Implementation Time

Not Stated

Usability Rating

4.2/5 (Capterra)

Summary

The system is comprehensive and was created with designers in mind. Some users say that it isn’t particularly intuitive to run reports, but collaboration is easy. It has multiple functions useful to fashion brands.

WFX

Odoo

Odoo is an open-sourced software solution focused on CRM, Sales, Project Management, Manufacturing, Inventory, and Accounting. They offer a Product lifecycle management product as part of their offering that is best suited if you are already using their suite of tools. As one of the top PLM softwares, clients include The Arista Group, the Portuguese Road Authority and other public sector companies, IBeton Concrete, EuroVets, and more.

Features:

  • Sales Management Tools: CRM, POS, and Sales Tracking
  • Website Builders and eCommerce Tools
  • Project Management Tools, including Timesheets
  • Invoicing and Accounting Tools
  • Email Marketing and Marketing Automation
  • Inventory and Purchase Management

Pricing and Onboarding Fees

The pricing model is split between dozens of apps. There is a free version, and many other apps start at $8 – $48 per month.

Implementation Time

The software is self-installed after activation. Onboarding time is dependent on user ability.

Usability Rating

4,2/5 (CapTerra)

Summary

Odoo is a generalist platform with dozens of different applications. It is well-suited to companies that want a software solution to manage specific business functions, e.g., accounting. They aim at smaller companies and individual users; larger companies may need assistance to incorporate numerous functions effectively.

Odoo ERP solution

An alternative to PLM software

SupplyCompass PLM Software for the Fashion Industry

SupplyCompass

SupplyCompass is a new alternative to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) technology for fashion and apparel. Unlike traditional fashion PLM products which are often clunky, difficult to use, and focus on helping improve the internal operations of a fashion business, SupplyCompass focuses on enabling quick and easy collaboration between fashion brands and their whole manufacturer network. It has defined a new production playbook that they call “The Collaborative Production Model” and the product they have built underpins this.

Built from the ground up with both brand and manufacturer usability in mind, the software delivers huge value to both parties – reducing lead times, centralising all product data and streamlining business processes from design through to delivery. The single source of truth for all production and product-related information means users don’t have to run data processes alongside. The technology was built specifically with digital-first, e-commerce businesses in mind, to help them produce high volumes of styles at the same time as reducing the time to market. With SupplyCompass you can manage the whole lifecycle of a product and use it as your full production system or use features of it alongside your other business systems. Clients include RIXO, Kiso, Baukjen, NICO, The Motus Projects, Lofty Manner, and many more.

Features

  • Style Builder – enables designers to create libraries for materials and components. They can add dimensions and share files for embroidery and prints. Designers can also clone existing styles and cards to speed up product creation.
  • Digital Tech Packs – can be built from library cards and shared with ease. No file-sharing apps are needed.
  • Sample Loop – allows teams and manufacturers to collaborate throughout the entire sampling process.
  • Costings – Send RfQs and negotiate back and forth on price with your manufacturing partners alongside your technical drawings.
  • Collection and Order Management
  • Moodboards: Save, categorize, share inspiration using mood boards with an annotation feature. Drop mood board inspiration into tech packs in one click
  • Style Tracker – Set Key Dates and Milestones for your design to delivery process. Collaborate and agree on timelines digitally with your manufacturers and track progress.
  • Purchase Order Raising and Management

Pricing and Onboarding fees

Pricing starts from £250 per month.

Implementation time

Rapid. The Style Builder and tech packs require very little information as images can be dragged and dropped from anywhere. Materials and components are saved automatically as new styles are created.

As a Cloud-based PLM alternative, you can get started with very little implementation required. There is high quality and detailed documentation available through a resource centre as well as dedicated customer success managers to help ensure a smooth onboarding journey for you and your whole value chain.

Usability Rating

5/5 (ProductHunt Rating)

Summary:

The software was designed specifically for the fashion industry and its requirements. Many features are unique to fashion companies, and there is a strong emphasis on sustainability and speed. The end-to-end software is easy to use, incredibly scalable, and would benefit mid-sized and large fashion companies the most. .

Tips for Finding the right PLM Software (or Alternative) for your Fashion Business

There are many top PLM softwares available. Choosing the wrong one can impact your operations for the next ten years. Before you decide which software solution is right for you, take the following steps.

  • Define the strategy. What do you want to accomplish with your system?
  • What type of brand are you? Do you want to stay ahead of the competition? Do you like embracing new ways of operating?
  • Do you believe in Systems Thinking?
  • Do you care about collaborating more closely with your suppliers?
  • Do you care about the ethics of the companies you buy your software from?
  • Check how the system would work alongside your current tech stack.
  • Determine whether the provider can meet your long-term and short-term goals for compliance and sustainability.
  • Determine what the system should cost and what it should include.

Once you know exactly what you require, you can make an informed decision about the solutions and get on with manufacturing your products!

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SupplyCompass is a Collaborative Production Platform for Fashion that brand builders, production teams and their manufacturers use to collaborate on product from moodboard to delivery.

SupplyCompass is a Collaborative Production Platform for Fashion that brand builders, production teams and their manufacturers use to collaborate on product from moodboard to delivery.

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