Publisher's Note

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Publisher's Note

By Susan Nichols - 01/01/2007

Measuring Up
We all know the old adage that you can't improve what you can't measure. Indeed, you can't even begin to assess your performance if you can't measure it.

That's why Apparel is increasing its focus on research. We believe it's critical to play a role in helping to define where the apparel market stands relative to key technology benchmarks. And in doing so, we hope to provide your firm with a meaningful framework that will lend credence to your planning, strategizing and investments.

In 2007, Apparel will bring you a minimum of three exclusive research studies. The first, presented in this issue, is our inaugural annual "Top Technology Trends in the Apparel Market," published in conjunction with AMR Research. We'll team up with AMR Research again in June to explore "PLM: Maximizing the Investment," and in October we'll present "RFID: Factory Floor to Store" in partnership with Kurt Salmon Associates. (We're working on a fourth research study sure to be of interest as well, but more on that later.)

I'd like to thank the 190 companies that responded to our "Top Technology Trends in the Apparel Market" survey. Such a high level of participation certainly validates to Apparel the importance of this endeavor - not to mention provides a rich base of data. So what did we learn? There's a lot of information for you to explore within the report (which begins following page 12), but here are a few significant findings that caught our attention:

Today's top three operational issues for apparel companies are:
(1) reducing costs to improve margins; (2) reducing lead times for new products; and (3) business intelligence and analytical capabilities.
(AMR Research wonders if supply chain agility and visibility shouldn't be a little higher on this list )

Thirty-one percent of companies are exploring international expansion as a growth opportunity. (We say, "God speed." U.S. brands and retail formats have so much untapped potential outside of our borders.)

Roughly 47 percent of the surveyed firms plan to increase IT spending in 2007, on average by 9 percent. (As we all know, the apparel sector often gets criticized for being slow to adopt new technology, but hopefully more and more are "getting it." Cost remains a real-life barrier, especially for small firms.)

Thirty-five percent of companies plan to invest in new solutions for e-commerce in the next 24 months. (Now this is a real bright spot. Even small companies can get in on this game, and just try to imagine how much uncharted territory there is in serving consumers with new and innovative online options. No doubt there are countless new great ideas to be born in this arena.)

We invite you to dig into the report to find the benchmarks of most interest to your business. You can also point colleagues to the downloadable version of the supplement, available at apparelmag.com. It's our hope that Apparel has measured up in the information we have presented to you in this initial effort. But please help us continue to improve. Be sure to send us your ideas for the type of research and/or specific questions you'd like to see answered in this or other reports.

 

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