TradeStone Debuts Solution to Support Collaborative Development of Seasonal Apparel Collections

Trading and Product Development Companies application lets buyers, merchants select prices, attributes and create local brand extensions

Trading and Product Development Companies application lets buyers, merchants select prices, attributes and create local brand extensions

Gloucester, MA — April 27, 2006 — Global sourcing solution provider TradeStone Software has released a new addition to its flagship suite, adding capabilities to support organizations in the collaborative development of their products and brands, allowing them to create seasonal offerings to retail customers or internal departments.

The new TradeStone for Trading and Product Development Companies, part of the TradeStone Suite, includes a Virtual Showroom, a secure online workspace that enables local retail buyers and merchants to select pieces, as well as attributes (cuts, colors, sizes, packaging) from a general collection so they can create local brand extensions of private-labeled merchandise.

The Virtual Showroom provides a way for buyers and merchants to examine the entire season collection and view the line breakdown by sell-channel, delivery date or other factors. TradeStone believes that the visual presentation of departmental portfolios will give buyers the speed to market they require to make changes that influence and determine future flows to stores based on incoming sales information at the color, size and style level.

The central buying group at the trading company and/or product development company can collect all the local orders in real time, compare selections and make recommendations based on known volume discounts. Understanding what their local stores want to sell during the season, these companies can adjust mark-up percentages, compare the projected selling price to the estimated landed cost and forecast margins per item by distribution.

According to TradeStone Software CEO Sue Welch, many brands become locked into generic product portfolios not by design but by necessity to serve a multitude of markets. Product portfolios are often developed around a "most common" denominator, that is, a specification or attribute that will serve the largest demographic contingent. This generic offering can erode a brand or, worse, interfere with quarterly earnings opportunities.

"In order to deliver fresh and innovative product, on trend and on time, to unique geographies and end consumers, product development companies and retailers need tools to work collaboratively with their global manufacturers and their global outlets," Welch said. "TradeStone recognizes the changing roles of retailers and trading companies as they take on the challenges of developing products and acting as their own private brand company. TradeStone for Trading and Product Development Companies addresses those changing roles and provides a platform and functionality to meet those needs."

Once orders are aggregated into the TradeStone system, the trading companies and product development companies are able to work with the manufacturers, many of whom are on the other side of the globe, to refine order quantities, sizes and colors. These modifications and change orders are automatically date stamped, creating a complete order history. This change-tracking is critical, TradeStone said, for providing a financial and merchandise view of sourced items across all production phases. The Plan/Buy List captures committed-to quantities, approved quantities, on-order quantities by Sell Channels and flow, production status and financial commitment.

"Every major retailer goes through various stages of sourcing, starting with buying domestically to importing, to establishing a strong private label brand, which is typically sourced globally," said Welch. "The difference in profit margins at each step in the sourcing value chain is dramatic: typically starting at 45 percent and peaking at 75 percent. TradeStone for Trading and Product Development Companies enables retailers to better leverage their sourcing margins for all their customers. And when all their customers have more profitable collections, Wall Street takes notice."

The Virtual Showroom is part of the overall TradeStone Suite, a set of Web-based application modules that includes Product, Sourcing, Logistics, Finance, Product Lifecycle Management and Unified Order Management. The Suite provides retailers with the technology infrastructure to manage various aspects of the purchasing process while providing a real-time view into each step, according to TradeStone.

In addition to the Virtual Showroom, TradeStone for Trading and Product Development Companies includes capabilities that make it possible to view the changes made to any transaction by anyone within the supply chain, an important feature when demonstrating compliance with regulations such as Sarbannes-Oxley or BASEL II.

In addition, in order to fit into existing corporate security policies, TradeStone for Trading and Product Development Companies features various security enhancements, including hierarchical permission structures, password protection and change-tracking. Elsewhere, reports can now be generated on-the-fly using real-time data, giving retailers and buyers a more accurate view of the buying process.

Finally, the solution features "Smart Tags," an interactive hyperlink utility that drills down to critical information, enabling users to display more detailed information at the click of a button.

TradeStone for Trading and Product Development Companies runs on both Websphere and Apache Tomcat, and is available now.