Apparel & footwear product development is the process of creating a new fashion product and introducing it to the market. The footwear and apparel industry is a rapidly evolving industry that demands new designs regularly. To fulfill these demands apparel & footwear companies, need to develop practices and strategies to increase their market share by developing new products. The apparel & footwear product development process involves several activities like design, development, manufacture, wholesale, and retail.  

The development process may seem to be complex as it involves many processes and practices. Product Developers need to keep a track of tons of details like colors, materials, cuts, accessories, and trims. All these factors seem to be crucial. For efficient and faster development of the product, apparel & footwear companies need to automate their development processes. 

In this article, let’s understand the need for automation, its workflow, the ways to automate, and the benefits offered. 

Why should you automate your product development process?  

As an apparel & footwear business, developing products and releasing them faster to market can be an effective way to compete. What if your competitors come up with new and attractive products before you releasing your products?  

It’s obvious you will lose track, sales, and competitive advantages. Your goal in product development should be to create innovative products and release them quicker than your competitors. The traditional apparel & footwear product development process is time-consuming and cumbersome. Information sharing and collaboration between teams is not effective as they can’t connect with each other instantly. It’s difficult for the entire team to view the current status of the project. 

These are a few reasons that act as barricades for your product development process. Well, automating your product development process can be an efficacious way to generate revenue for your business.  

Automated Workflow 

To automate your apparel & footwear product development process, you need to identify the barricades and design a workflow with revised forms. 

  • Use workflows that will automate the business process.  
  • Use solutions that provide a centralized database of current and historical product development data and knitting specifications.  
  • Ensure that the product information is accessible easily and quickly.  
  • Quick views of the current status of the project will help in managing multiple, concurrent projects.  

Ways to automate    

As a business owner, you will be aware of what is required for your business. When it comes to automating the design process, you need to use 2D or 3D software that should be integrated with the PLM software. Automating the development process will include automation of workflows. The workflows will auto-assign the tasks, notify users, and validate the business process. Hence, automating fashion product development reduces the cycle time.  

There are certain ways to automate your business. Each of them is listed below:   

  • Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) 

PLM software is a platform that empowers apparel & footwear companies to connect vital areas of the apparel & footwear value chain to the business processes. PLM offers real-time collaboration between teams, creating and updating materials & trims, acts as a single source of truth, seamless exchange of data between systems, and is easily accessible on different browsers. 

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) 

RPA technology is software that can be trained to mimic routine, labor-intensive tasks performed by humans. It is mainly used in Digital Product Creation, eliminates the complexity and errors during BOM Generation, and helps with store planning. RPA offers performance accuracy, reduces costs, increases productivity, and helps brands implement digital transformation.  

  • Enterprise Integrations 

Enterprise system integration allows different solutions and applications to transfer data and communicate with each other. Data is centralized so that your team does not have to log in to different systems and do the same job. Business processes and manual tasks are all automated. It allows apparel & footwear companies to access data easily, enables seamless data flow, reduces time & cost, and enhances product data timelines.  

  • Usage of automated sewing machines 

Although automated sewing machines are still in the development phase, robotic sewing machines are a reality. These machines will bring in benefits like higher liability, fewer variants in garments, and the manufacture of the desired products. Even if the machines are in use, they are still not perfect because they cannot sew complex garments.  

  • Automate Online Merchandising  

Automating online merchandising means understanding which products are most popular and which are performing low. There are automated strategies that help you analyze customer profiles and figure out the products that were already seen and brought. This report will help you understand your customers’ shopping requirements.   

  • Virtual Solutions 

Fashion imagery generators help you automate your apparel & footwear business and reduce time to market. The virtual models can wear any clothing of any brand. Additionally, works are going on to create a feature that enables the transfer of outfits from one model to another. Once this feature is in use automation in the apparel & footwear business will reach greater heights.   

  • Product Information Management (PIM) 

PIM system acts as a single source of truth that collects all the product data and standardizes it. Your team, retailers, and customers will get valuable, valid, and compelling product information along with reducing time-to-market.  

Benefits of automating Product Development Process  

The outcome of automating the product development process is as follows:  

  • Reduced process cycle time.  
  • Reduced data entry time. 
  • Data validation eliminates the rework caused by incomplete or inaccurate information.  
  • Detailed statistics of the completion time of each step in the process will open a way for further improvements.  
  • Reduces hours of annual work.  
  • On-time delivery of the product 
  • Increased efficiency 
  • Increase in revenue 


Automated product development process will improve, standardize, and shorten the time-to-market. Automation is not only for large enterprises but also for small and medium-sized companies. In fact, these companies require automation on priority. It is because their team is lesser in number and developing the product on time can be difficult. For large enterprises, automation will help their teams to concentrate on other important tasks. Ultimately, the need for automation is growing every day and apparel & footwear businesses should incorporate it for better revenue.