Apparel and Fashion ERP Buyers' Guide
Finding the right apparel ERP software is a complex process fraught with risk. By conducting a thorough requirements gathering exercise and researching key features, you're much more likely to find a system that suits your business.
However, it's often hard to find all the information you need to make a good selection choice. That's why we've put together this guide. Below, we cover:
- Key business requirements for apparel ERP
- Useful apparel and fashion ERP features
- How much apparel ERP costs
- Specialty ERP vendors to consider
What are your business requirements for apparel ERP?
Before you begin looking at features, explore your business strengths and weaknesses.
Where would apparel ERP help you most?
Which areas of your business would flounder without it?
By assessing your unique business requirements, you will be able to come up with a list of unique features you will need. The following requirements represent a guideline for manufacturers searching for the best apparel ERP management software.
As an apparel manufacturer, you will need to:
- Plan your designs, import samples and make style adjustments.
- Plan your methods of production in order to ensure a top quality product with minimal waste.
- Monitor the quality of both your raw materials and your final product.
- Manage the storing, distribution, shipping and monitoring of stock.
- Monitor sales, returns and repeat orders.
Identify and prioritize your garment manufacturing ERP requirements with this ERP requirements template
What features should you look for in an apparel ERP?
In order to meet the needs of your business, your fashion ERP should include a number of features as standard.
This will enable you to establish the stock you have, where it is, what needs to be replenished and help you improve your inventory turnover ratio. This applies to everything from raw materials if you do your own manufacturing through to retail-ready garments in the warehouse or brick & mortar store. Inventory management has to be able to link with your order management module as well as inform your procurement and/ or manufacturing department.
Real-time order management has never been so important for the fashion industry. Automatic updates to product descriptions, courier selection, syncing payment data with your finance module and feeding customer data into your marketing department are all part and parcel of good order management. In the world of fashion e-commerce, customers need to be able to select multiple options such as size, color, and shipping preferences. All of these details must be captured and fulfilled accurately and can also help predict future demand so that the most popular styles and sizes are adequately replenished.
Prevents you from costly mistakes which could damage your reputation. As a fashion manufacturer, you need to know whether your textiles are of excellent quality and without faults which could impact on your final product. Do zips open and close with ease? Tracking the quality of your raw materials will prevent the manufacturing of damaged or faulty clothing.
Crucial for monitoring your stock across different distribution centers and arranging for effective shipping. This service allows you to find out whether you have clothing in stock and ready to be shipped. This will help you manage your orders with e-commerce and retail stores.
Assists you with acquiring the raw materials and samples you need from a variety of different distributors. The fashion industry relies on many suppliers. From designs to zips, buttons, cotton, and textiles, you'll be able to monitor your purchases.
Planning and scheduling
This will help you determine when your clothing will be designed, when the fabric will be cut, and when stitching, laundering and packing will begin. You'll be able to give your suppliers accurate estimates on the clothing you will be able to deliver.
Enables you to store and share garment designs and shape them to current trends.
Keep a clear history of contracts, invoices and communications with e-commerce sites, retailers, fashion designers, and contracted staff.
Monitors staff working and payment schedules to keep your process smooth and efficient. This means keeping track of the staff who work for you from the conception of a design through to shipment of your final product. Communications, assessments, and payments will all be easy to monitor.
For more feature ideas, check out our guide to 70 features to look for in your next ERP purchase
These features aren't strictly necessary, but making use of them could give you a competitive advantage. If you have the budget, they're really worth considering.
A customer portal enables your customers to place orders or communicate experiences. You'll be able to access orders from e-commerce sites or retailers who have run out of stock. You'll also gain quick feedback about colors or designs which sold quickly. If there are any customer complaints (such as shrinkage or fading) you'll be able to pick them up quickly. Likewise, if clients ask for an item in a different color, your suppliers will be able to share these with you.
Product management features
These assist you in managing the lifecycle of your product. As fashion shifts and changes so quickly, you'll be able to explore how your stock is selling when first introduced, after it has become a trend and there are many orders, and after it has reached saturation. At this point, retailers often mark down a product. You'll be able to control how many items you manufacture, and monitor when to design a new product.
If you are a large manufacturing company with multiple divisions, this software will help you to track your different factories and warehouses. You'll know when your clothing is being produced and the type of garments which are being designed and manufactured.
Keep track of your stock stored in different warehouses. You'll know how many garments you have in stock and where they are going to be shipped. This will assist you with supplying your retailers and e-commerce sites. It will also assist you when it comes to the lifecycle of a product. You'll understand when to stop production.
How much does apparel ERP software cost?
Pricing for online software varies according to your business needs. Large, small and medium enterprises will need different software. In addition, the product you focus on will suit the areas that will be most effective in helping your business grow. This will have an impact on the software product you select.
Pricing will also be affected by the product plan which meets your business needs. Do you need your users to be able to access your ERP through mobile device portal? This will impact on the plan you choose. Software plans range from basic to luxury, depending on the size and needs of your enterprise.
When planning for software costs, take into account any hardware updates you will need to make to your current computer network in order to utilize the software effectively.
For a full guide on ERP budget-building, check out our guide to how much ERP costs and how to set your budget
When making your final software choice, take into account ease of use. If a product is going to have many different users, you might need to take a training plan into account in order to ensure the software is used efficiently and to maximum benefit.
Which apparel ERP vendors should you consider?
When selecting an apparel ERP vendor, ensure the product you are looking for meets the requirements you identified above. Different products offer different services. For example, a retailer offering products through an e-commerce site might use basic garment inventory software, while a large-scale manufacturer would seek the best ERP software for the textile industry.
Taking these factors into account, here are some ERP vendors worth considering:
- Aims apparel software includes three different software plans, ranging from Emerging apparel software for small businesses to Designer and then Luxury. Each plan has different features and depends on the number of users and warehouses. Designer software includes a customer portal, and Luxury includes a Product Lifecycle Management feature. Features include an inventory, order management, style management, costing and material bills, customer management, financial analysis and e-commerce management.
- Compiere Garment ERP 3.0 is open source garment manufacturing software, and might be the product for you if you have the development resources to customize it to your needs. The software was last updated in 2007 but is still downloaded regularly online.
- ApparelMagic Cloud has three different plans for you to choose from. Features include Inventory management, customer relations management, production control, integrated accounting and style management.
Retail-specific fashion ERP vendors
Retail requires the monitoring of sales, returns, stock, staff, and pay point systems. This is an entirely different feature set from a manufacturing ERP, so it’s worth looking at these systems separately.
- LS Fashion reduces administration time by offering an inventory to retailers. You'll know how many garments you have in stock and when to place orders. Fashion is often fast-movin, so supplying customers with on-trend stock will increase sales. You'll be able to monitor products which sell well and those which are beginning to slow down. This program has an accounting feature which will assist you with the costs of running your business and the profit and losses.
- Lectra Fashion is a new retail fashion ERP and PLM software solution. This software assists with merchandising or displaying fashion items. It stores data on suppliers and products and delivers information on sales.
Selecting ERP software for your business begins with your unique business requirements. By taking note of areas you would like to improve, and seeking out the modules that best address those areas, you can whittle down the vast array of offerings into one ERP short-list suitable for your fashion and apparel business.