Initial and final line reviews are the linchpin of the assortment planning process. They are the primary opportunity for product teams to present their seasonal collections to the entire regional merchandising team and for regional merchandisers to provide feedback on the potential appeal of each product and colorway in their specific markets.
It takes a lot of time to conduct seasonal line reviews. A recent PTC industry survey found that 80% of brands and retailers spend two or more weeks preparing for each seasonal line review, and another week to incorporate the feedback into their assortment plans.
Seasonal line reviews can also be quite costly. They typically require physical samples of each product and colorway. And don’t forget about the cost to fly in dozens of regional merchandisers from all over the world.
Last year, those trips became impossible due to Covid-19, with domestic and international flights being cancelled and disconnected teams being forced to work from separate offices – or from home. Suddenly, line reviews needed to move from onsite to online.
In conjunction with the release of FlexPLM V12, PTC has unveiled the Visual Line Collaboration (VLC) app to help retailers and brands significantly reduce both the time and costs associated with seasonal line reviews. The VLC is the first in a series of powerful retail apps, built on PTC’s award-winning ThingWorx® digital transformation platform.
With the VLC, product management and merchandizing teams have one-stop access to all the data and 2D/3D designs they need to make accurate global and regional assortment decisions. This includes product design and development details housed in FlexPLM, historical product sales data from ERP systems, product forecast data, and customer review data from ecommerce platforms.
“The VLC extends the footprint and functionality of FlexPLM by digitizing the line review process,” says Bill Brewster, Senior Vice President and General Manager of PTC’s Retail Business Unit. “It virtually eliminates line review prep time, saving product teams thousands of hours a year. The VLC app also provides brands and retailers with a viable alternative to flying dozens of regional planners from all over the world for onsite line reviews, enabling them to work remotely and collaborate virtually.”
The VLC app is also highly visual, with support for sketches, artboards and even 3D objects, and every change made in review can be pushed back into FlexPLM so that product managers and merchandisers can instantly see the impact of their decisions on the overall assortment plan.
As 2021 continues, the PTC Retail Business Unit will unveil additional retail-specific applications which will empower our global users to manage disruption and to work@digitalspeed.