Buying PLM

Traditionally, a number of big firms have led the PLM market. However, a growing crop of small fashion-focused firms are catching up, offering deeper market expertise and know-how to win new customers. They claim their understanding of industry-based practices gives them an edge over competitors. Regardless of who is right, experts say companies looking to incorporate PLM should conduct a rigorous internal assessment of how the system can meet their needs, along with an exhaustive vendor review before making their decision.

What PLM products are in the market?

The PLM space has grown sharply in the past decade with a string of hardware companies like Siemens, Gerber Technology and Lectra – which were originally focused on the aeronautics or textile machinery industry – venturing into the fashion software arena.
Simultaneously, several other players were founded to specifically service the growing fashion sector including Centric Software, CGS and Polygon Software, while others decided to spin off specialist divisions to focus on the trade, notably PTC with its FlexPLM. Lately, cloud PLM suppliers are disrupting the market, like Arena PLM.

How do I choose the best PLM software?

Apparel manufacturers seeking to incorporate PLM into their supply chains must conduct a rigorous review of their business’s raison d'être and what they hope to achieve through the software. Is the firm a manufacturer looking to win new full-package business, a brand looking to grow into fast-fashion or a retailer seeking to enter new markets? Answering these questions can help the company find the right PLM supplier at the right price and with the fewest implementation headaches.

Calculating the total cost of ownership

PLM’s cost of ownership – or the money companies have to invest to own or rent the software – is coming down, vendors say. “The cost of ownership is falling as systems become more affordable, especially on a subscription basis,” says Daniella Ambrogi, vice president of marketing at vendor Lectra, adding that Lectra sends analysts to potential customer sites to assess their collection development costs.

PLM’s Return-on-Equity

PLM is not cheap and can cost millions of dollars, making it imperative for cash-strapped clothing makers to ensure the investment will pay off. Vendors say the technology’s Return-on-Equity (ROE) has gradually increased in recent years. While they won’t venture precise figures, they say the software helps boost productivity 30% to 40% one year after its implementation, if successful. Sales should also rise 5 to 10% while product development costs and inventory redundancies should decline 5-15% and 20-40% once the platform is fully operational.

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