How 3.1 Phillip Lim Runs a Tight Ship Despite Rapid Growth

When Phillip Lim and Wen Zhou founded the eponymous brand in 2005, they wanted to create an approachable designer experience, says Zhou, who is also CEO of the company. “We wanted to offer a luxurious product at an accessible price point.” That mission tapped into a gap in the marketplace for high design that didn’t break the bank, and this year marks the opening of its 17th store, adding to a network of more than 450 points of distribution in more than 50 countries.

That’s a large enterprise to manage, and although 3.1 Phillip Lim had an ERP system in place, it had several limitations, says Zhou. For example, workflows were done outside of the system in Excel, which required manual entry and was prone to error. Getting all of its data into the system was critical to creating efficiencies in its collaborative process, she says. Phillip Lim chose to implement an ERP system from RLM that would allow it to bring all of its data onto one platform.

The changeover process was completed within a four-month timeline, wherein workflows from its legacy system were retrofitted into the new solution, says Zhou. “This included integration points to our POS systems as well as custom developed software elements from our legacy system,” she says. “We also integrated our financial package in RLM, so we were required to convert our financial systems and evaluate our operational and accounting processes to ensure that they would link up.” The platform was implemented in its DCs in Italy, the United States and Asia, and it was also integrated to Joor for its showroom order taking.

The system has provided many benefits. For example, says Zhou, “RLM allows us to accurately determine our raw materials requirements, which is a critical component to easily purchasing our fabrics and trims.” Additionally, the ability to integrate to its current 3PL model was a critical step to creating efficiencies in its supply chain, she says.

The visibility of information in the system has created efficiencies throughout its supply chain, while eliminating duplicate and manual entry has enabled the company to move through the seasonal lifecycle of its styles with speed and accuracy, she says. “[Having] integration points to external systems has positioned us to expand upon these capabilities, which was a previous limitation.”

Overall, RLM fit seamlessly into Phillip Lim’s company-wide technology initiative to shift to cloud-based resources. “Shifting our workloads to cloud-based targets has minimized our technology footprint and enabled us to be more flexible in the solutions we provide,” says Zhou. While it is not feasible to shift every element of its process to the cloud, the brand developed a hybrid model using on-premise resources and cloud-based solutions in conjunction with RLM to handle images. “This maximizes performance for users inside and outside of the corporate network infrastructure,” Zhou concludes.


Jordan K. Speer is editor in chief of Apparel.

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