Direct-to-Consumer Brands Are Using This Tool to Streamline Production

The disruption of e-commerce has led many brands to focus on their consumer-facing digital presence. But with more competitors in the market and a more discerning — and demanding — customer, brands need to ensure that their products are meeting their standards if they want to be successful.

“For the last five years, the focus has been on the e-commerce, the customer acquisition, the social media, but the making of the physical product has been a complete blind spot for companies,” said Matthew Klein, co-founder and CEO at Backbone, a product lifecycle management software platform.

With new PLM tools now on the market, comprehensive visibility of the development process is possible. While less flashy than a new smartphone app or rewards program, Klein believes that PLM-driven visibility will help brands scale their business. By identifying and resolving pain points, like ensuring everyone has access to the latest version of data, production can be optimized for speed and efficiency.

An added benefit of this oversight is the ability to detect where product development is creating unnecessary waste, so that brands can improve the sustainability of the process. Ethical sourcing has been gaining attention as more companies invest in sustainability, but it can be hard to achieve without a cohesive understanding of each part of the supply and production chain.

“You’re requesting more samples than you need and eventually cutting too many goods because you don’t have visibility around your inventory needs,” said Klein. “Giving brands that visibility, they have the ability now to see how much product they’re making, how much fabric they’re using. That’s really important in this age of transparency and ethical sourcing because the customer, more than ever, is paying attention.”

DTC brand Allbirds has moved from being e-commerce-only to launching multiple brick-and-mortar locations, after scaling successfully.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Allbirds

PLM is not a new tool but the industry has traditionally had two imperfect options: to cobble together a workflow through multiple apps and programs, or use a legacy provider which makes custom systems that could take years to create. With Backbone, a company can onboard to the platform quickly and then customize the nomenclature and reporting fields to their needs, within the existing framework and without additional coding.

This approach has been particularly popular with direct-to-consumer companies. The emergence of programs like Shopify has made it easier than ever for a brand to launch, but with so much competition, these DTC labels often have few chances to capitalize on customers before they move on to the next option. This has led brands like Allbirds, Warby Parker and Outdoor Voices to utilize Backbone’s tools.

“They’re able to have a much more efficient design and development process,” said Klein. “They’re communicating faster with their factories, getting their products made quicker and getting to market faster.”

Watch the video below to see more from Allbirds on how they’re succeeding:

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