Infor, a leading provider of business application software serving more than 73,000 customers, today announced the results of a recent study commissioned by it, "Apparel Business Strategy: Global Study," which was conducted by EKN Research, a leading research and advisory firm focused on business-technology insights in the retail industry.
As decision-makers in the fashion industry look ahead to 2015, the uncertainty of the global economy has forced many to modify their market strategies to better adhere to demand and quality standards. And, as organizations continue to grow and modernize operations, many don't realize the benefit that analytics, mobility and cloud-based technologies can provide toward achieving short and long term goals.
Three quarters of global respondents noted that in terms of time and resources spent, product quality is an extremely important priority, while 56 percent ranked regulatory compliance as an extremely important priority. However, nearly one third (31 percent) of global respondents noted that cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are not under consideration in the near future for their organization.
"Legacy business solutions struggle to keep up with the pace of change in the fashion industry," said Bob McKee, industry strategy director, Infor. "Demand volatility, cost challenges and increasingly complex global supply chains require a more agile and modern ERP solution to ensure quality and compliance needs are met. It's important that an organization selects a technology partner that understands the specific needs of the fashion industry and can seamlessly manage the entire process - from design to multichannel distribution - in order to come out on top."
This topic of big data was also brought to light in the study. While many organizations realize that access to better data can yield more actionable insights, which can directly affect product quality, according to the survey only 10 percent of global respondents are harnessing big data analytics on a regular basis, and more than half (55 percent) are still learning about these options or have no efforts currently in motion. Advanced analytics can help reduce process flaws, save time, resources, and reduce complexities within the manufacturing process. In addition, having the capability to quickly analyze data is of utmost importance when trying to adhere to strict codes and regulations while simultaneously delivering top notch products in the fashion industry.
"The fashion industry lives at the bleeding edge of customer expectations which means agility and adaptability are two critical skills that they need to grow," said Gaurav Pant, senior vice president of Research and principal analyst, EKN Research. "Even as retailers are investing in technology to improve these skills, they are woefully behind in perhaps the most important business capability that they need today, analytics and insights. Analytics needs to be at the heart of the retailer because it has the power to deliver agility and adaptability to all parts of the business."
Successfully embracing big data can also have a big impact on marketing and sales. Being able to critically analyze the massive volume and variation of customer data allows an organization to achieve a more complete picture of each individual buyer and create a more personalized shopping experience - which can ultimately lead to more sales, stronger loyalty and return customers.
As the market continues to become more competitive, understanding the customer is just one piece of the puzzle. The ability to provide other outlets (including brick and mortar locations) with the means to sell and market specific products is critical. While a majority of organizations globally are using their own e-Commerce site or have plans to implement one in the next 24 months (85 percent), only 46 percent are considering developing a mobile application in that same timeframe.
In fact, more than one third of global respondents (35 percent) are not considering developing a mobile application for their business. Global e-Commerce sales made via mobile devices is expected to top $638 billion in 2018, according to a forecast from Goldman Sachs, and smart organizations need to find the right technology partner to get the most out of this growing trend.
"The right software and services exist in the marketplace today to help the fashion industry advance their operations and get end-to-end efficiency, from concept to consumer. Infor understands the changing requirements of these organizations and can help them tap into unused potential with specialized applications tailored to the needs of their business," continued McKee.