The role of IT in the Clothing Industry – an ever evolving story
Developing consumer trends and ever-increasing customer expectations in high street fashion have combined to create a demand on information systems in corporate clothing circles that only the most adept companies can fulfil. Tailored Image has invested heavily in IT management systems, equipment, software and most importantly staff in its bid to stay abreast of the fluid requirements of the industry and maintain its position as a market leader in the world of corporate clothing.
Bespoke Online Ordering System
In the early days of Tailored Image, IT requirements were fairly rudimentary. Smaller scale bespoke orders and paper-based ordering systems meant business operations looked very different from the world in which the company operates today. As the business has grown, so too have its IT requirements. A huge turning point for Tailored Image came in the implementation of its award-winning sophisticated bespoke Online Ordering portal. This juncture allowed the company to facilitate large-scale managed contracts and positioned it at a new level of operation.
At a corporate level, this move resulted in a seismic shift in uniform ordering, moving the process away from a cumbersome administrative task for procurement or HR departments having to place orders for an entire organisation, towards facilitating individuals placing their own uniform orders. The result is a much quicker turnaround potential on orders, less margin for error, since individual wearers are more attuned to their own needs and sizing requirements, and a more streamlined experience for corporate clients on the whole. From a uniform management and costing perspective, this bespoke ordering system allows a more effective method of placing restrictions on wardrobe allowances, with upper limits on uniform allocations possible as well as individualisation of wardrobe items by department, rank and so on. Uniform allocation can be based on a points system, quantity, monetary value or a mixture of these, ensuring a business can control uniform spend effectively.
At an individual level, employees can enjoy the sophistication of a high street retailer’s online ordering experience, with intuitive features and a system designed with user experience at its foundation. Users can view measurement guides, sizing charts, item photographs, latest stock information and check the status of their orders via the online portal. They can also track deliveries, complete online returns and check the status of returned items.
In a further development, Tailored Image is now trialling a system designed to help customers select appropriate sizes more easily and reduce the number of returns and replacements required. This involves the customer answering a series of questions regarding their height, weight, body shape etc. with a view to arriving at a solution which is suitable for their individual needs.
In wider IT terms, Tailored Image has invested heavily in staff and systems which contribute significantly to the efficient running of the organisation. The management of information systems both internally and via external providers has evolved to a ticketed service to ensure staff and customers alike benefit from a trackable, accountable system. Many of the changes facilitated by IT are initiated by Customer Service representatives acting on feedback from customers, meaning the approach to improvement is a very responsive one – always working to improve customer experience.
Tailored Image has also invested heavily in hardware to improve efficiencies throughout the business, including tablets for stitchers so they can easily access patterns and specs for every garment and an enhanced scanning model for the warehouse department to improve efficiencies in stock maintenance and measurement. Each department and element of the business has experienced technological advances and TI’s ERP system is set to experience a complete overhaul, giving customers much more visibility into the tracking of orders and extending into the invoicing system.
High on the agenda of any discerning IT department will always be the issue of security. Being awarded ISO 27001 accreditation was a huge milestone for Tailored Image as it signified the huge improvements made in the business in security terms, and each department has taken on the responsibility of maintaining this certification year on year, covering a wide range of activity from asset record keeping to ensuring that incidents are managed effectively. Since the original award, substantial investment of funds has also been allocated into penetration testing to ward off hacking activity and remove vulnerabilities from the systems. All of this contributes to the instilling of confidence in customers that their information will be held with the strictest of confidence and security.
The Future of Information Systems
Summing up the company’s investment in its IT resources, Tailored Image’s Bernard Birt comments, ‘Investment in IT is important in any industry, but in ours it is imperative. The corporate clothing industry is perhaps unique in that, although we are dealing with bulk orders of hundreds and thousands of staff in a given organisation, there is a great deal of individualism required with every order. Our challenge is to provide the required flexibility to cater for the needs of our individual customers, whilst achieving a systematic approach which can effectively deal with the scale of our business model.’
And what of the future? As the use of app-based technology and augmented reality develops further, Tailored Image’s IT department will continue to monitor trends and implement improvements in a way which enhances customer experience. ‘The feedback our from customers is that our uniform solution is one of the best on the market,’ affirms Bernard, ‘And as technology and trends evolve, so too will our IT systems to ensure we always deliver a first-class service.’