Tesco clothing brand works with IT consultancy to improve speed to market with a cloud-based collaborative portal that streamlines product design process
F&F, the fashion label owned by Tesco, has today announced it has worked with IT and management consulting services provider, Hitachi Consulting, to implement a collaborative process portal that reduces the lead times for designing new products.
The platform, delivered in 10 weeks and based on Tesco's instance of the Microsoft Office365 cloud suite
, has been optimised to simplify communication and collaboration during the design process. The introduction of the portal has enabled F&F to improve its speed-to-market and maintain the consistency of brand handwriting across different product categories and markets.
F&F previously relied on manual procedures to manage the design process, making cooperation with its global suppliers difficult, which in turn lead to inconsistencies in both internal practices and output.
To resolve these design process challenges, the consultancy developed a cloud-based portal with integrated online workflow systems so that F&F employees can see the status of each product line. Adopting this approach also means that management has clear visibility into the progress of each clothing collection.
Speed to market and efficiency
The portal significantly reduced lead times by streamlining the approval of thousands of samples being produced by F&F annually. It allows F&F to use photos and feedback uploaded by the global sourcing hubs to approve designs online and as soon as the samples become available. Chris Gates, director of retail at Hitachi Consulting, commented: “In addition to the speed-to-market benefits, this reduces the need to send samples to the UK which has a positive impact on F&F’s environmental footprint.”
The new automated design process means that once a product is created it can be uploaded by the designer and presented to buyers and technologists to agree on the brief, before it is sent to the upstream sourcing hub. The system also provides rich datasets that enhance F&F’s ability to link specific designs to finished products and sales performance, while also generating metrics on the effectiveness of design and supply chain choices.
Andrew Hughes, head of business change at F&F, commented: “This portal is perfect for our creative teams who are true digital natives that adapt to new technology easily. Being cloud-based, it allows employees to concentrate on product and customer needs by pushing frustrating tasks to the background and allowing F&F employees to use internet devices, from anywhere in the world, to convert designs into products that our customers want to buy online and instore.”
Increasing business agility
He added: “Developing this capability means we now have greater agility to meet consumer demands or quickly respond to new trends in the market, leading to an increase in sales and helping cement our position as a leading clothing brand as we continue to expand into new markets.”
Jason Tarry, F&F chief executive, added: “It was clear from the beginning of this project that utilising and implementing the right technology would be imperative in supporting the needs of a global business.
"This solution has demonstrated how good design and simple processes can enhance communication and help develop new ways of working for commercial activities. In the long term, this will free up time and allow our colleagues to focus their efforts on creating great products for customers.”
The F&F Design Portal by Tesco and Hitachi Consulting has just been shortlisted for ReThink Retail Technology Initiative of the Year at the Retail Week Awards 2014
, with winners being announced at the awards dinner on 13 March 2014.