The latest release of PTC FlexPLM tackles one of retail's biggest hidden challenges with a new module to help product developers and technical designers manage the sampling process.

The samples console in the new FlexPLM version 11.2 adds real-time visibility to deadlines, deliverables and samples data, to help save time across design and development.

It is designed to provide clarity, visibility, and comprehensive control to product developers and technical designers who struggle to manage multiple iterations of the product sampling process across many seasons, resulting in managing several hundred samples at any given point in time, the company says.

"Samples often represent critical-line review milestones during the go-to-market process," explains Quach Hai, VP of retail product management at PTC.

"When you consider all of the cross-functional teams involved and the amount of time dedicated to spec development, there is no doubt that sample tracking is a crucial business process.

"It consumes a significant amount of time and money, which makes accurate tracking essential. This is why we're delivering capabilities to make this process easy and efficient." 

Developed in close consultation with more than 20 of the world's biggest brands and retailers, the samples console is a central hub that allows all information pertaining to a sample to be viewed, filtered, and maintained in an intuitive user interface.  

Attributes from season to colourway and specification to source, can be monitored, updated, and edited in a single location. This provides all of the relevant sample context that enables the interpretation of the sample's status in its relationship to the critical path and achieving milestone deadlines.

The samples console will also provide closer collaboration with factory partners – giving everyone from product development to production offices to suppliers the ability to track any product's ready-to-buy status, in one real-time solution without having to resort to external tools.

PTC believes this heightened, global visibility will have an immediate, positive effect on retailers' and brands' go-to-market calendars, noting that sample tracking alone consumes more than 140 hours per year for development and design partners.

Customers of almost any deployment of FlexPLM are eligible to upgrade to the latest release.