First published in The PLM Report 2022, this instalment in our series of exclusive interviews focuses on how PLM can offer complete visibility across design, development and go to market.

Where do you believe PLM sits in the broader technology ecosystem for a brand or retailer? What does it deliver as a standalone solution, and what can it enable in terms of digital transformation elsewhere in the enterprise?

When Bamboo Rose first started engaging with retailers and brands on PLM initiatives, the system was viewed as a tool to provide product design and development capabilities that drove product innovation, managed development timelines, and maintained product quality. As macro-market trends have evolved and technology roadmaps have matured, the concept of a multi-enterprise PLM has emerged. This mix of technology and strategy is focused on connecting development decisions to customer expectations across markets, collaborative development with suppliers and downstream teams, and visibility into the impact of design decisions on sourcing compliance, logistics dynamics, and margins. As firms grapple with supply chain disruption, emerging environmental, social, and governance (ESG) requirements, and unstable global markets – having full visibility across design and development teams, partners, and downstream processes has become business critical.

Bamboo Rose states that it offers “complete visibility across design, development and go to market”. Can you elaborate on how extensively each of your modules is connected to your platform(s) and the types of data that are shared in real-time between each solutions and/or modules?

The Bamboo Rose platform and business applications are built on a single code base. The suite of business applications access the same shared libraries, reference data, intelligence and reporting capabilities, and underlying collaborative tools. The platform is truly a single source of truth for product, order, and business partner information across the supply chain from ideation to delivery. As the pace of business moves more and more quickly, retailers and brands simply can’t afford to be working on siloed systems that impede collaboration and agility.

We note that you offer a Global Sourcing application. Is the costing module within the sourcing platform linked to your PLM solution, and are they both able to share the same source data?

The Global Sourcing application, which contains the costing capability and Should Cost extension, leverages the same data as used by the PLM application. The RFQ is in fact the same document as the Tech Spec, with extended attribution specific to sourcing. It invites suppliers into the process to provide offers, each of which as linked to but separately managed to provide a holistic view of the sourcing options. This arrangement is important to ensure the continued alignment between the intended design and the suppliers offers, to adapt to changes in design due to material or production availability and to ensure the final production is aligned to the final intended design.

With new environmental and sustainability laws coming into forces, ESG (or CSR) is a topic on the minds of most management teams within the retail, footwear, apparel and textiles sectors. Can you share with us how your solutions are able to deliver on scientific impact measurements, and share the typical drivers and key data types are in delivering these results?

Bamboo Rose offers many capabilities that enable retailers and brands to measure, inform and improve their performance against internally and externally mandated ESG initiatives. The CSR module provides detailed supplier performance and auditing data with tightly managed follow ups on corrective actions to drive compliance. The materials & packaging libraries provide in-depth sustainability and usage attribution to capture the impact of different materials within products. And our sourcing and global trade solutions provide the visibility necessary to assess environmental and social impact of different product, sourcing, and logistics decisions.

Are you able to utilise 2D and 3D design assets within your Virtual Showroom to support smarter supplier collaboration? If so, are the visual assets able to support additional metadata – for example, cost price and retail price?

Leveraging digital representations of products in the design process has become especially important for clients since the pandemic derailed traditional physical sampling processes. Bamboo Rose does support 2D and 3D assets in Virtual Showrooms and provides an embedded viewer to support annotation and interaction with these files to streamline vendor collaboration and design processes. Bamboo Rose currently has an established relationship with CLO and can support a variety of other 2D and 3D file types as well.

Perhaps the two technology opportunities that have been accelerated the most by the disruption of the last two years are digital product creation and supply chain resilience / agility. How do you believe PLM contributes to those goals?

As mentioned earlier in the conversation, there are major opportunities to leverage a PLM system integrated with sourcing and supply chain applications to provide downstream visibility that can ultimately drive agility and resilience to market disruptions. For example, within Bamboo Rose PLM designers can ensure they are aware of and are leveraging well sourced and available materials early in the design phase to avoid production delays. On the supply side, visibility into partner facilities, capabilities and capacity availability greatly reduce unexpected delays in production and provides opportunities to address disruptive events by suggesting alternate partners, facilities, or materials.

How do you see PLM supporting fashion’s wider recovery and its ongoing digital transformation over the next 2-3 years?

Over the next 2-3 years, retailers and brands will continue to grapple with unstable global dynamics that disrupt access to finished goods and cause delays and shutdowns in supply chain operations. At the same time, they’ll also grapple competitive pressures from eCommerce and Direct to Consumer (DTC) players as well as regulatory pressures related to ESG. All of these headwinds mean that established retailers and brands will need to get creative around partner ecosystem strategy, revenue channels, and technology roadmap. Successful retailers and brands will leverage a multi-enterprise PLM strategy that drives downstream visibility to manage many of these market dynamics in tandem. Bamboo Rose product development and costing capabilities help product teams account for market demand signals throughout the development, sourcing, and ordering process – supporting agility to shifts in consumer expectations. Additionally, the application allows clients to easily account for the cost, logistics, and compliance dynamics when bringing product to market across several distinct geographies and business models without introducing overhead administrative work and compliance risk. Finally, visibility across development, sourcing, and supply chain processes coupled with data intelligence tools allow clients to predict and respond quickly to potential disruptions – maintaining time to market and margin goals despite a volatile business climate.