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Infor: Providing Technology for Fashion Business

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Bino George, Head of Pre-sales, Infor India shares his views on the apparel and fashion industry’s needs to accelerate thinking, streamline decisionmaking, reduce costs and improve businessagility.

Let’s begin with talking about the current dynamics of fashion and textile industry in India?

India’s population is growing at an escalating speed at the same time marketers are gaining insight into consumers changing need and preference, it as resulted in more evolved perceptions of the Indian consumers. India, with a population of over a billion people, majority of whom fall in the youth bracket, make for an attractive market and therefore Indians have become a feasible ethnic target.

The textile industry in India is undergoing a paradigm shift however the retail market is still developing. The fashion and textile industry in India is one of the leading industries in the world. From the past few years, India’s fashion retailing sector is aligning with global trends with major retailing firms making in-roads into the Indian landscape.

What are the key challenges being faced and opportunities remaining untapped?

Despite the promising future that the fashion industry holds in India, there are certain challenges gripping the sector which need to be tackled. Some of the challenges include: increase in labour cost and lack of skilled labour in the country. The dotcom boom has seen e-commerce sites mushrooming. Most of these sites sell apparel. With customers becoming tech-savvy, the demand for these e-commerce sites is ever-increasing and so is the demand for end-to-end technology solutions. The biggest challenge the industry is facing is the lack of acceptance of technology based solutions, across the spectrum, which will facilitate the smooth functioning of the business.

Apart from these, the industry holds umpteen number of opportunities. With the change in lifestyle, increase in per capita income, urbanization of the Indian consumers and demand for branded products, the attitude of spending money on fashion related articles such as apparel as changed. India needs to lap up this opportunity and increase its share in clothing exports and focus more on converting fibres, yarns, and fabrics to apparel within the country rather than focusing on exports of intermediary products. This will happen only if the fashion industry adopts technological solutions which will help collaborate the massive data and allowing the industry people to access it in real-time from anywhere and at any time.

Technologically, how advanced or how behind is the apparel industry in India, and what are the areas where lack of technology is hampering the industry’s growth?

India is still at a nascent stage in terms of adopting fashion based technologies. However, the advent of advanced production technology, improvement management practices and evolving consumer expectations have given rise to a number of distinct trends in usage of raw material, production technology and prudent business management, something which India needs to adopt at a faster rate. One of the main reasons for lack of penetration of technology and solutions is the lack of awareness and cost concerns. This has resulted in India losing out significantly to China and other low-cost manufacturing locations. Free trade agreements are also reducing the incentive for local manufacturing vendors.

The Indian fashion industry will require technologies that will help to accelerate thinking, streamline decision making, reduce costs as well as improve business agility. By adopting these technologies, the fashion industry will help in providing a competitive edge as compared to the competition from other regions. It will help in achieving efficiency and transparency in business operations. Unless fashion businesses don’t accept this, it will continue to hamper the industry’s growth.

What are the key issues to keep in mind during forecast and then in translating the same towards the design development process and then onto production / manufacturing?

The fashion industry isn’t easy and it is one of the most competitive industries. As a manufacturer, it is your task to gauge customer expectations and fulfi ll the same, something which isn’t an easy task. This task however is made easier with the internet revolution and customers becoming tech savvy and taking to social communities to share and upload their choices. Fashion houses need to constantly monitor these trends to be in the know and meet customer expectations. Apart from social media, manufacturers also depend on other sources. Once the trends have been identified, it becomes easier to translate it into an actual design piece.

Coming to the production aspect, there are certain solutions which will help in implementing the forecast and aide the manufacturing. Solutions like Business  Intelligence help in improving decision making capabilities. From the silos of data that has been collected it helps in selecting the most relevant information. Apart from this, there are some technologies which help in linking the fragmented supply chain right from sourcing the requisite raw materials till the production and distribution of the final product. The future of fashion lies in heeding to what the customer says and then collaborating the same and manufacturing it and here forecasting and technology will have to be married to achieve the desired results.

You have recently launched Infor Fashion PLM – a platform to support the Indian apparel industry. Please share details and benefits.

Infor Fashion PLM is our newest application. It helps seamlessly link vital areas of the fashion supply chain to business – from line planning, design and development to  sourcing, production, inventory management, customers and distribution. This new solution is a key component of Infor Fashion, one of the most functionally rich solutions for today’s market. Infor Fashion PLM supports the design workflow, new product development cycle, and streamlines the overall planning process. Each collection, style and its component can be accessed through a meaningful and intuitive user interface that speeds up daily activities.

Can you please share some example (either Indian or international) that explains how solutions from Infor have helped a brand / company.

Recently, a leading textile and apparel manufacturer and marketer expanded its  international deployment of Infor M3 and now manages its enterprise resource planning (ERP) layout through one database globally. The successful multisite, multi-country and multi-company implementation was based on its strong fit with the dynamics of the company’s business and the deep fashion industry functionality within Infor M3. In particular the flexible style, color, size and fit matrix and global inventory management features helped the brand improve the management and supply chain of products for a diverse range of leading brands and customers.

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