Keeping up with the rapid pace in the Apparel industry requires more than just a good fashion sense and a cool look book. It’s knowing what styles will delight buyers and consumers next Summer, while they’re shoveling snow mid-Winter. San Francisco-based children’s clothing company Tea Collection (www.teacollection.com) seems to have perfected this with parents of pint-sized fashionistas.
There’s a lot to celebrate as they mark their 10 year anniversary: passionate fans on Facebook and Pinterest, beautiful clothes inspired by worldwide destinations, and broad distribution via www.teacollection.com, specialty and department stores such as Nordstrom, and hundreds of high-end children’s boutiques around the globe. Pretty impressive, plus the company has made the Inc. 500 list of “America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” six years running.
Yet one of the most interesting trends in Apparel is what’s happening behind the scenes at companies like this. While it may not make fashion headlines, companies in apparel and across the retail value chain are increasingly adopting information technology to accelerate decision-making and better serve customers.
In a 2011 study of IT investments in the Apparel industry, Gartner Group and Apparel Magazine said, “Looking ahead to 2012, the number of companies expecting to increase budgets in their next fiscal year rebounded to 45 percent, up from 37 percent in 2010 and 43 percent in 2009.” The study identified “Business intelligence/analytical capabilities” as the second most important operational business initiative among these companies.
A recent announcement describes why Tea Collection adopted a Cloud-based analytics solution from PivotLink “to deliver actionable insights into inventory levels, sales performance, marketing promotions and products.” The company “selected PivotLink based on providing a flexible, easy-to-use and affordable analytic platform that will scale as the company adds new products and global distributors.”
The press release describes how “PivotLink will help improve the speed and accuracy of business decisions by providing a unified view into data across Tea Collection’s enterprise resource planning (ERP), e-Commerce and warehouse management systems.” Tea Collection is deploying the application, called PivotLink RetailMetrix, to “replace Microsoft Excel spreadsheets with web-based reports and dashboards encompassing over 60 key performance metrics” across sales, orders, inventory, merchandising, finance and customer performance.
Tea Collection CEO Leigh Rawdon notes, “Tea is growing rapidly in all channels. PivotLink’s comprehensive, flexible and accessible reporting application and platform will be key to supporting our continued expansion. PivotLink’s dashboards allow deep, complex reporting across customer segments and channels. This will enable efficient growth at the pace required to stay on top of our growing business.”
Richard Nieset, chief customer officer, PivotLink, adds: “Tea Collection is at the forefront of all the trends that are transforming retail: social and mobile touch points, web commerce, omni-channel optimization and customer centricity.”
Congratulations to the Tea Collection team on this 10th anniversary! You’re inspiring entrepreneurs everywhere to think big. Browse their collection at www.teacollection.com.
 6th Annual Top Technology Trends in the Apparel Market: IT Budgets Tick Up To Support Growth on Global, Mobile Stage; Apparel Magazine & Gartner Group, Jan. 3, 2012