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Technology Shaping the Future Growth of Fashion: The Way Forward

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On the day one of the India Fashion Forum 2015 (IFF 2015) organized by Images Group from March 18-20, 2015 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre, the retail giants of India gathered to discuss the how technology is shaping the future growth of fashion with the all time champion of retail technology SAP. The roundtable session was moderated by Christoph Schroeder, Global Director Retail Solution , SAP; and attended Amit Bahl, Head, Online Technology, ; Amit Rawal, Founder and CEO, Elitify.com; , Customer Care Associate and GM-Technology Infrastructure, ; , Managing Partner and Director, Ingenium Advisory; Manoj Krishnan, CIO, ; Ranjan Sharma, CIO, Bestseller; Sandeep Mistry, IT-Head, ; and , Head IT, Trent.

To begin with Christoph Schroeder’s discussed the challenges faced by the fashion industry like inability to develop assortments and pricing targeted to the needs of the customer across asynchronous seasons, regional trends and demand of the global ranges that respect local and regional trends. Schroeder shared that the time in which we are living in is now the advent of a period where wholesale and retail have been vertically integrated. He further added that refreshments have moved from seasonal basis to monthly and fickle customers that have temporary loyalty to the brand, not to the channel and demand consistent standards regardless of touch point to the brand. It was also mentioned that the vertical integrated companies have outperformed traditional retailers by almost eight times in the previous fiscal year and hence, the need for a system was emphasized that will help the traditional players to take a jump in the game and expand at a rapid level to areas which were earlier, either untapped by them or outsourced.

To address this need SAP has come up with a new system called SAP Fashion Management with which SAP is targeting specifically the fashion industry covering the manufacturing, distribution and retail sector. SAP had collaborated with its clients, like Giorgio Armani, , Luxottica, which retails brands like Rayban and Okale, as partners in developing this software.  As defined by Christoph “SAP Fashion Management is a multichannel, vertically integrated fashion solution covering and harmonizing specific wholesale and retail process in the backend system based on the SAP IS-Retail.” One of the key features of SAP Fashion Management is a common data master that will enable the companies to form a single ERP system thus, reducing inventory by 15 percent. Some of other features include Material Required Planning (MRP) on HANA and setting up of a common inventory pool. The aim is to develop Cross Functional Teams that would include the customers, the designers, the suppliers and the manufacturers coming together to develop a product to serve the need of the market.  Though, in order to tap the real time data of customers for another software is still required called the Customer Activity Repository, developed by SAP itself. So still there lies a question of how to find out that the data mined from the various channels is apt and correct or not.

The factor of localization of SAP fashion Management for the Indian Fashion Industry was raised at the conference by Vikram Idnani, Head IT, Trent referring to their association with SAP as the first customers in India for their technology needs, he stated that in the past Trent had faced a lot of difficulty in integrating the SAP systems to their company and yet SAP has not considered taking any partners from India in developing the software to which Christoph replied by stating that they wanted to partner with companies which have a global presence and connections. Also he stated that India was viewed by them as a manufacturing country in the year 2011 when the development of this software began and that SAP views this as a beginning. Despite of the discussion above, Idnani mentioned that Trent will soon be out with its website and will have an omni-channel presence and is looking forward to omni-channel integration through this software.

With the new technology SAP aims to integration of all the sectors and channels that a company has access to thus, creating a window for a more profitable future for the insutry as well as the customers by improving the supply chain, sourcing and procurement and customer experience through a common solution.