Barry Duncan

Panamoure works with clients operating across various retail and consumer goods sub-sectors. Many are seeking to venture into E-Commerce territory or to upgrade outdated online retail platforms and processes in order to transition them to a modern, digital-first or omni-channel, future-proofed proposition. 

For our clothing and footwear retail clients, or manufacturers venturing into a digital direct-to-consumer (D2C) model for the first time, or those seeking to upgrade and improve what is already in place, there is a well-tried process by which to achieve those aspirations. 

For more extensive programmes of transformation, Panamoure applies a framework of seven core components in order to ensure no elements are omitted and the client remains fully appraised of the most appropriate options to complete that journey. 

Panamoure’s Core Digital Transformation Components

This is a simplified illustration of how we might present, and ultimately deliver, a significant digital transformation to a client operating in the apparel production, distribution or retailing segments, always bearing in mind that any exercise will be planned for and adapted to meet each individual client’s unique requirements. Here they are, described in a little more detail and describing why each is so important to your company’s success. 

  1. Align Leadership and Culture for a Digital Future – Support of company leadership is critical. That may seem obvious but effective Cultural Change is essential to ensure the success of that digital transformation. Instilling that readiness to embrace cultural change can be one of the most difficult and problematic components of a successful transformation. That is why it is the first numbered component and is a theme that must be continually addressed throughout any extensive digital transformation programme. 


  1. Become a Data Analytics Leader – the clothing and footwear sectors are increasingly data-led. As with many other consumer sectors, data is becoming essential to the efficient running of businesses, permitting informed decision making and helping to identify and generate additional revenue opportunities. Every company generates data but frankly, a lot don’t know how to best capitalise on it. Even less helpful is inconsistent collection, questionable accuracy of data and duplication of its storage. Without consistency, rigorous collection, cleaning and codification, your rich pool of data could prove more of a hinderance than a revenue-generating asset. When working with fashion-focused clients, a well implemented transformation programme delivers Consistent Data Collection and Analysis that enables Informed Data-driven Decision Making. It must also ensure Data Privacy and Security applications and processes defend against current, and next-level, data security risk.


  1. Enhance Consumer Experience – whilst addressing your core data requirements, as a consumer-facing business, it is important to apply your improved data insights capability to contribute to better customer experience. Today, clothing retailers and associated producers and distributors gravitating to D2C must think in terms of “customer first” rather than “project first”. A new operating model built around the customer journey must be established to improve business success. Simply improving customer satisfaction at single points in the journey does not constitute an enhanced customer experience, and will fail to match better models established by competitors. A “journey approach” will enhance data capture and improve digitally-enhanced selling opportunities.


  1. Foster Innovation – legacy systems have a habit of hampering digital transformation and innovation efforts. Successful apparel retailers require innovative design to adapt and ensure resilience as a business and improve execution by continuous learning through experimentation. Larger clothing and footwear retailers and their suppliers will be aware of the digital offerings of their closest competitors. However, few will have considered the opportunity to stretch their own talent capital. How might the digital experience, gained by employees that have worked at other companies and other sectors, be applied to change operating protocols, target different revenue streams or help combat digital competitors? This is an oft-missed opportunity and is something Panamoure advocates exploring as it can benefit multiple parties. 


  1. Leverage Modern Technologies – surprisingly, a significant number of apparel-related companies have still not made any major steps to digitally enable their businesses. Even for those that have already adopted digital technologies to operate a full E-Commerce or omni-channel model, relatively few are gaining the full value of technologically-enabled change. Many clothing retailers that have gone to the expense and effort to implement CRM or ERP only achieve the most basic level of potential value. Considerably more value could be gained by enhancing systems and processes by incorporating additional capabilities to enhance previously invested technology. This might cover the judicious use of rapidly developing technologies. We will list out some of those relevant to the E-Commerce space in our final post where we discuss the need for retail businesses to constantly evolve.


  1. Upgrade Systems and Processes – clothes retailers embarking on a programme of transformation should consider an alternate Operating Platform. This foundation platform for your business processes will need thorough assessment to ensure it can adequately deliver your business’s growth plans, as well as being fully integrated with all other applications needed to successfully digitise the company. Legacy platforms are frequently ‘creaking’ and require replacement or upgrade. Key to this will be your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform, as this will integrate the rich pool of data being generated by your onsite digital applications. This will include your business building and reputation-protecting suite of Customer Relationship Marketing, Data Analytics, Data Security and a myriad of internal and external reporting applications. This is where the company’s new-found efficiency and productivity improvement will be generated. It can feel like an arduous journey, and so it should be, considering its importance. However, if implemented in a well-planned manner, Return on Investment can be rapidly achieved.


  1. Reskill Your Workforce – component 1 describes the essential requirement of supportive leadership and we return to the themes of culture and appropriate skills set for the last component. For brick-and-mortar retailers that have been relatively technology averse, finding the necessary skills to see through a digital transformation programme can be problematic. To address this, clothing retail companies and manufacturers should consider; upskilling the existing team, hiring in new experienced talent, selecting and working with good vendors and consider utilising the services of external expertise. Part of that reskilling component will be to effectively change and maintain the workforce culture to one that is now both “digital-first” and “customer-first”.


Each of those seven components are critical to the success of a comprehensive digital transformation exercise. You can find a fuller description, together with more information about the opportunities and challenges for apparel manufacturers and retailers in our report Digital Transformation Will Enhance Apparel Retailers and Manufacturers E-Commerce Capability and Profitability.

Next time round, we’ll go over the importance of making a proper analysis of both where you company is currently, and where you might want to get it to through digital enhancement. For more comprehensive digital transformation implementations, a Discovery Phase of this kind is critical to your transformational success and yet it is often overlooked. But if you would like to know more about any of what we’ve touched on above, do feel free to get in touch for a fuller discussion.

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