When people think of PLM, they often think of automobiles, airplanes, and large machines. But, the world of retail and fashion provides fertile ground for managing and sharing information. PLM, bold and beautiful, strutted down the catwalk at the recent NRF (National Retail Federation) show in New York, City. Some in the audience were heard to say, “I’m too sexy for my PDM!”

You can read more about this excellent show here, and here. Also, read what PTC and Dassault Systemes are doing in this space.

One aspect of this show that caught my attention was the idea of providing a rich customer experience. PTC and Dassault Systemes, along with others, were both there showing what they have to offer in this exciting space. Both of these companies have a strong set of offerings that provided support for the retail and fashion industries.

When you think about it, fashion and retail are very likely candidates for PLM. There is a ton of information generated during the product development process. Design data for new products must take into account customer input and feedback from previous products. The design data must be shared and collaborated upon by multiple people in real time. The supply chain must be involved in product discussions. Sales teams must be prepared for new products. There are merchandising and store operations teams that need to be involved in collaboration, and all of this must be done quickly.

The new product introduction process is complex because it involves many different people in various groups, potentially located all over the world. A PLM system must serve as a common repository for all product information including raw materials, product specifications, style information, product costing, packaging, and so forth. The PLM system must also allow sharing with those who need to make critical decisions quickly. PLM must also provide visibility for the entire retail value chain, allowing collaboration, design, development, and product sourcing. These are not easy tasks to accomplish when there is plenty of time, but time pressures are constantly part of any retail business.

Today we are seeing more and more retail and fashion companies look to PLM as a way to do business. They are replacing spreadsheets and paper documents with a common repository of product information that can be shared. This trend will continue. Those who plan to stay in business will embrace PLM and all the needed technology to support innovation and make their business run more efficiently.

Strut down the catwalk with confidence, because you’ve got PLM!