The Fashion Tech Stack Series Part 5: What Does a Fashion Tech Product Stack Look Like?
(Image Courtesy: Kibo Commerce )
In our series so far, we have understood what fashion tech stacks are, why they are needed and how to design and manage them. Today, we will look at a typical tech stack and how it operates.
In a fashion business, the fashion tech product stack would look something like this:
ERP Systems – for ordering and finances, etc.
PLM systems – for defining the product design and consumption, etc. for the manufacturing process.
E-commerce system – For managing the sales and marketing side, along with ordering, despatch, inventory, payment, and other operational details.
Order Management systems will typically span the ERP and E-commerce requirements. Each of these systems will talk to each other in order to maintain a great track of every purchase and sale that takes place.
Let’s see how the process flow would be from one end to the other in the case of a fashion brand, shall we?
We begin from the design of a garment and take it to the end-point where it reaches the customer.
1. PLM System: Designs for a collection will be defined and outlined and fed into the PLM with parameters. Vendors or the manufacturing division then outlines the cost and consumption of each style, and the commercial team determines the final cost at which it will be manufactured.
2. ERP System: The data for each style – no. of pieces ordered, colours, sizes, price and so on. The requisite order is then manufactured and delivered to the warehouse.
3. Warehouse Management System: this keeps track of orders coming in and those being despatched, either to stores for their inventory or to customers ordering them from the online store or platforms. It communicates with the ERP system to register sales and track inventory.
4. Ecommerce System: the Ecommerce system manages the entire online shopping experience, whether its offers to customers, payments received, etc. It provides inputs to the Warehouse management system on despatches to be made to customers.
5. Point of Sale (POS) system: This covers the sales process through physical stores. It updates sales, promotions, invoices, and payments from the stores to the warehouse management system and the ERP.
6. Order Management System (OMS): This performs a critical function. It monitors levels of inventory and triggers re-orders when required, either from the warehouse to the physical stores of from the warehouse to the manufacturer. It can also trigger delivery from another store if one store does not have the type of product required in stock.
7. Marketing Automation System: This works with the inventory and warehousing system to determine whether older inventory needs to be offered at a markdown, track what offers work well with which type of customers, manage the communication and content for the brand(s). It can interact with the Warehouse Management System, Ecommerce System and POS system as required.
8. Data Servers: the entire transaction data is stored in the cloud server for easy access. It draws information from all the systems to function as a master repository of all the transactions and records.
9. Analytics Systems: these work on the data generated by sales, promotions, orders, shipping, etc. to provide insights on the various aspects of the business such as timely delivery, stockouts to show which products are being sold faster and therefore either need to be re-ordered sooner or priced better for improved margins, etc. It can interact with the Data Server and all the above systems depending on the requirements programmed.
10. Logistics / Delivery Tracking systems: This keeps track of the inventory leaving the warehouse and the time it reaches each milestone – whether regional warehouses, distribution centres, stores, or the end customer. Delivery partners are usually responsible for updating this, and it usually connects with the Order management system and warehouse management system to record deliveries and closure of purchase orders, etc.
As you can see, the entire process requires multiple systems to share data seamlessly. This is why a tech stack decision is critical to the process and any investments in new systems must be evaluated based on the interlinks between each of these systems, besides the cost and the value that they add to the present equation.
Haven’t read the earlier part of this series? Catch the first four parts of our tech stack series here:
Fuel4Fashion is a design, branding and technology consultancy for the fashion and apparel industry. We provide consulting and advisory services across design, business and IT processes to early stage and mid-sized apparel manufacturers and brands looking to grow their business with the help of smart sustainable management practices. Visit our website here and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for regular updates.