Running an apparel business isn't easy. From sourcing to sales, to managing warehouses to distribution- there are numerous operational complexities involved, especially when it comes to inventory. A single piece, whether it’s a shirt or a shoe, can have countless variations such as color, size, and style and need to be tracked individually. It’s no wonder that inventory solutions are a top priority for most in the industry when evaluating apparel ERP software.
However, there are several other features and benefits that often get overlooked and many businesses are simply unaware of their options. Keep in mind that a good software vendor is one who spends the time with you to identify any unique requirements and make recommendations on functionality that can benefit your business. This is why finding a vendor with industry experience is beneficial. Some of the features important to those in the apparel industry include:
An apparel matrix greatly simplifies order entry and purchasing by allowing users to enter quantities in a matrix format with different product variations such as color, style, size etc. It also offers easy viewing of product availability within the system which comes with its’ own advantages. For example, let’s say a customer wants to place an order for 20 green shirts in size small- you can easily look up the availability of the exact item in the system and determine if you can fulfill the order immediately or if the product needs to be backordered. Matrix functionality allows users to enter, edit and manage inventory items without the need to enter items line by line.
Digital Document Management
Many businesses are still manually entering information from important documents into their inventory and accounting system. In today’s market, automating processes is key to boosting productivity and staying competitive. Fewer manual processes mean faster operations and reduced errors. Implementing a back-end system with digital document management provides many benefits to those in the apparel industry, including:
- The ability to easily store, index and retrieve documents such as design prototypes and logo images
- Useful when on the phone with customers or reviewing multiple design options
- The ability to keep important and confidential information safe by storing it electronically instead of in paper format
- Eliminates the need for physical storage space
Transformation Purchase Orders
A transformation purchase order is when one existing inventory item is transformed, through the use of a third party vendor, into one or more different items. In the apparel industry, this includes a third party vendor adding logos, graphics, embroidery, or other design elements that change the original piece of inventory. When using transformation purchase orders, transformed items have the cost of both the original root product as well as the incremental processing cost of the 3rd party vendor. In multi-step transformations using multiple vendors, new purchase orders and drop ship information are automatically created. The system automatically creates payables for the incremental costs and transformation purchase orders can also tear apart assembled inventory.
Customer Relationship Management
Integrated Customer Relationship Management functionality means there is a single point of entry for all supplier/vendor and customer information in terms of names and address information- without the need to track and maintain relationships in standalone systems or in Excel. When searching for CRM functionality, find a system that allows you to:
- Create quick quotes for prospective and existing customers and then convert quotes to sales orders upon approval
- Create contract pricing rules (price lists for specific customers based on negotiated prices and terms)
- Log verbal and email communications for prospects, suppliers, and customers
One of the biggest benefits of acquiring apparel ERP software is that the system is designed to manage business processes from end-to-end. Information is maintained by a single data-base so that data is accurate across all sales channels and departments. Users do not have to enter information into multiple systems or worry about information not being up-to-date.