Part 3: A Platform for People Creating Products
Pause for a moment and think about where your products live. Not the physical ones in inventory (or hopefully in customers’ wardrobes), but their digital counterparts. As they undergo concept development, design, technical construction, sourcing and so on. Garments now spend longer than ever before on people’s desktops and in production databases.
For many brands and retailers, the core product data generated by those processes are split between different, disconnected solutions. In-house designers work on one piece of software; merchandising teams in another; and suppliers, agents, and satellite offices in a third. Perhaps they interface through formal integrations, but more likely these teams exchange information through email attachments and by swapping spreadsheets, making it all but impossible to put together a full vision of any given product’s lifecycle to inform future decision-making.
It’s difficult to overstate the negative aspects of working like this: non-centralised product data effects everything from speed to market to staff retention; brand perception to profitability. And if data silos, duplicate entries, and an absence of accountability sound disastrous for the health of your products, consider their impact on the output and morale of your creative and commercial teams. When essential information resides in multiple places with no central audit record, manual data entry and duplicated work are the rule, not the exception. Rather than spending their time actually designing, designers and product developers can quickly become frustrated data librarians, looking for things and then not knowing whether they are up-to-date and reliable once they’re found.
This is the core challenge that RangeRoom was built to address: from the beginning, we designed the solution for simple, secure collaboration and information-sharing. RangeRoom offers centralised chat across all a companies’ cross-functional teams, with all discussions, comments, and data archived in one place, and used to inform everything from in-house conversations about macro trends, a future iteration of the same style, to tracking the progress of sample revisions with a supplier overseas.
“One of our biggest challenges was maintaining a two-way dialogue between our designers and our client’s supply base,” explains Dave Edgar, Founding Partner of BDA London. “Working with our retail partners and their suppliers face-to-face, we’d benefit from their advice and welcome their input, making product development a truly collaborative process – but face to face meetings aren’t always practical. RangeRoom enables our teams to have the same access remotely. We can share trends, fabric, and colour direction with the supplier, who, in turn, shares their own feedback – all through a single platform. This gives us the opportunity to develop the same close working relationship, wherever we or the suppliers are in the world.”
But while BDA London, like most product-oriented businesses, works with supplier bases and retailers offshore, RangeRoom has also become a core platform for internal communication and collaboration at other brands’ headquarters – to an extent that surprised even us. In fact, it’s one of the primary uses of the platform today for many of our clients.
Can’t wait until next week for instalment number 4? Continue reading our full Whitepaper here. Up next is: Fashion Needs Fashion Software. If you’ve been enjoying this series get a demo of RangeRoom to see how you could work smarter.