Demystifying Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
When we talk about Product Life Cycle, we refer to the stages every product goes through, from conception to eventual decline and withdrawal from the market.
And these stages are four (though five in some cases), and they are:
- Introduction to the market
- Decline/exit from the market
How you manage these cycles forms the basis of Product Lifecycle Management.
As an apparel brand, getting your Product Lifecycle Management strategy right is important for many reasons. One is that it ensures you create products that meet your customers’ expectations. The other is that it lets you introduce products into the market when the time is right, else, you would create products no one is ready to buy.
In this post, we will be demystifying the concept of Product Lifecycle Management to give you better insights into the subject.
Also, we will be discussing the benefits of an efficient Product Lifecycle Management strategy, and the right software to use.
Let’s get right into it.
What Are Product Lifecycles?
As we highlighted in the opening section of this post, every product goes through four fundamental stages. These stages are the development, introduction, maturity and development stages.
Let’s go over each of them in more detail.
The product life cycle begins with the introduction stage, where a new product is launched into the market.
During this phase, the product is usually in its infancy, and consumer awareness and demand are low. This stage is where you invest heavily in marketing to generate awareness for your newly introduced product.
You might want to consider leveraging limited drops marketing, as it lets you create buzz for your product without spending so much on ads.
The introduction stage is also where you figure out your pricing strategy.
As consumer awareness increases and demand starts to rise, the product enters the growth stage. If your product meets market expectations, you’d start to experience a surge in sales and profits.
The problem, however, is that you will start to attract your competitors’ attention, as they will start providing consumers with more options.
At this stage, your effort will be geared towards stabilizing prices and differentiating your brand from the competition.
After the growth stage comes the maturity stage. This is where your product starts to experience a plateau in sales due to market saturation. Competitors are abundant, leading to intense price competition.
Consumers are well-informed about the product, and brand loyalty becomes vital. At this point, your sole concern is to maintain your market share, improve your products, find untapped niches, and stimulate consumer interest. Additionally, you can take extra steps to reduce costs to uplift profits.
With time, your product will enter the decline stage as it becomes obsolete, outdated, or replaced by newer alternatives. Sales steadily decline, and profits diminish.
The market becomes saturated, and consumer demand shifts towards newer solutions. When you hit this plateau, you can either decide to reposition the product, revitalize it, or discontinue it entirely.
You can also choose to extend the product life cycle by introducing variations or targeting niche markets, or just phase it out of the market.
What Then Is Product Lifecycle Management?
How you manage all the 4 stages your products go through can make or mar your business. This is why a well-thought Product Lifecycle Management process is vital to the success of any business.
At its core, Product Lifecycle Management refers to the systematic management of a product’s entire lifecycle, from ideation and design to manufacturing, distribution, and eventual retirement.
It encompasses a range of activities, processes, and technologies that enables you to manage your products all through the period of entering the market and their eventual retirement.
Why is a Product Lifecycle Management Process Important?
Product Lifecycle Management process should never be an after-thought, but a core aspect of your business. The reason is that it offers a number of benefits. Below are some of them:
Enhanced Collaboration and Communication
PLM will come in handy if you have a team composed of designers, seamstresses, and marketers. It fosters communication and collaboration, enabling you and your team to work together seamlessly throughout the product lifecycle.
Streamlined Product Development
PLM also smoothens the product design and development process, allowing you to push products faster to market. It also makes it easy for you to automate your workflows, eliminating bottlenecks and cutting down on product development costs.
Improved Cost Control
Another benefit PLM offers is that it makes it easy for you to control costs, keeping them as low as possible. It also gives you insight into your supply chain process, allowing for better planning, forecasting, and resource allocation.
Allows for Better Business Decisions
A well-defined PLM process lets you make smarter business decisions about your products and marketing strategy, ensuring you get the highest return for your investment.
What is A PLM Software
Put simply, PLM software is an application you can use to manage your product lifecycles. These applications let you track a product’s development workflow as well as the resources that go into it.
Using PLM software to manage your products’ lifecycles will not only make your work easier but improve efficiency while improving your bottom line.
Unfortunately, there are hundreds of PLM software on the market, making picking the right one for your business challenging.
So how do you find the right software for your apparel business? Simply by looking for these features:
Best PLM Software for Apparel Businesses
PLM software are used in virtually every industry, including the clothing and fashion industry. That said, here are some of the best PLM solutions designed uniquely for apparel businesses.
Uphance is an apparel Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) and Product Lifecycle Management software that enables you to streamline your operations to improve efficiency and generate more sales.
Uphance makes it easy to develop high-quality products while managing resources and communications across the four development stages: prototype, sampling, pre-production, and bulk production stages.
Then when you are done developing the product, you can share it across your sales channels and platforms, including wholesale platforms, such as JOOR.
Furthermore, Uphance makes generating a detailed tech pack for your product designs a breeze.
2. Backbone PLM
If you are looking for an apparel PLM solution that is fast, cost-effective and supports creativity, Backbone PLM is where to look.
Backbone PLM comes packed with a lot of features and tools that easily make it a PLM of choice for apparel businesses of all sizes. They include an Adobe Illustrator plugin, Product and Component Libraries, Palettes and Swatches, an Image Annotator, a Tech Pack module and many more.
Other impressive features and tools include a Linesheet reporting system, unlimited custom fields, etc.
3. WFX PLM
Next on our list of best PLM software for apparel businesses is WFX PLM. As you would expect, WFX PLM comes with lots of features and tools that let you develop products from the planning stage, through to development and marketing.
This includes product assortment planning, design management modules, tech pack, etc.
In addition, WFX PLM integrates seamlessly with other management software, such as NetSuite, FastReact, and Aims360. It also fuses well with Adobe Illustrator.
Product Lifecycle Management isn’t rocket science. With a little bit of practice and commitment, you can get it right. And it offers a ton of benefits.
Hopefully, with the hacks we’ve shared here, you will find success with PLM in no distant time.