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Brand Revue: Adopting Digital culture for B2B processes

by Arun Joshi
Posted on June 2017

Today, Commotion that surrounds the new product design starts almost 18 to 24 months ahead of the targeted go to the market season. The process begins with marketing, merchandising and sales teams getting together and taking stock of the past couple seasons; aggregating the numbers that reflect demand for certain styles and colors in a specific or all the categories. Several other relevant contributors and team members voice in their opinions creating outlines and instructions for the product designers. This also initiates initial conversations about what would be a hit for the season ‘unknown’. We call it unknown because it is more than fifteen months out at that time. Designers usually are working on ideas of their own that affect the style, form factor and use of special materials.

These conversations and feedback today takes place using rudimentary, and inflexible tools like Google doc, or even using seemingly digital, but still unconnected file storage and file share tools like Dropbox or Sharefile. Especially, in apparel and footwear marketplace, it has almost become mandatory to take help of digital tools due to the disparate and global nature of this business. Rapid changes in the availability of various off the shelf tools and digital technologies have helped innovation and product design process, but many times lack of using it in a cohesive and coordinated manner defeats the true benefits of adapting to it.

Visulon’s Brand Revue-Review application is a new product review and approval platform that takes care of deficiencies like that. The collaboration intended in this product comes from Internal and external groups and agencies who take responsibility to facilitate the review and approval of product designs.

Early stages of product design need a variety of inputs from global locations including sourcing, manufacturing, quality testing, prototyping, marketing, merchandising and even legal. Visulon’s Brand Revue allows all these groups and agencies to securely log in, conduct series of reviews of various concepts, then comment and approve. All this can happen on the ‘Whiteboard’ that is showing the early stage product in a high-resolution image, with the ability to simultaneously comments on it from any corner of the world. All review comments and decisions are tracked, saved, distributed and then archived. Having a customized application improves the productivity and satisfies the legal and corporate needs of saving all the documentation for future use.

The prevalence of using random digital tools create confusion and disorientation. Using custom design applications that are fully web-based, allowing role based secured logins, and that can preserve all the project review notes, comments and team written interactions has tremendous functional value to bring the new product to market faster and cleaner.

In apparel and footwear industry time to market relates to cost, and all methods of using latest digital technologies that are made to make it dependable and easier should be utilized to add value to the process.

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Focus on reducing time to market

by Arun Joshi
Posted on December 12, 2015

In the competitive retailing landscape where omnichannel is uprooting the traditional norms of taking your product designs to the marketplace, we think that getting new products to buyers has significant advantages. The results-oriented business practices promoted by high-tech companies of the older generation, like Intel and HP, professed in early 90’s the importance of gaining market share by being first to the market. It established the market dominance, saved on costs, and brought in consumer acceptance to their products. .

We think that unique mantra of being first in the market was achieved through the religious and steadfast adherence to reduce the time it takes to go to market.

We think everyone in fashion, style, and sports industry should use whatever it takes to reduce process times to introduce new products to market. The time that is wasted using old style methods of product reviews, feedback and corrections can be drastically cut down by using latest tools and technologies.

Visulon, from grounds up, was designed to eliminate manual methods of using old platforms like Microsoft Excel, flat files, and Adobe’s PDF Acrobat. These localized tools don’t keep your product data, images, and seasonal product ideas in one place, but just keeps them scattered. Visulon designed a cloud-based relational database that stores, updates and delivers in real-time, fresh and accurate product data to all involved in the product release process.

Furthermore, as the seasonal releases are getting ready, external parties like independent reps, dealers, and key account buyers start getting to know about it and can provide comments to the new line as it is forming. Such process modifications naturally see a tremendous time and cost savings.

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Multi-language, Multi-currency B2B Product Management Portal can be a savior

by Arun Joshi
Posted on June 10 2014

Visulon’s enterprise level large application platform is designed as SaaS (Software As a Service) deployments.

In recent years, American Brands have gone global. Their products are appealing to the masses across the continents and the cultures. Our findings on how some of these brands manage theirApparel product release processes and Go To Market systems across the lands was an eye opener. We found the wasted time, energy and resources in managing these seasonal releases in every instant. We found miscommunication, we found missed opportunities, and we noticed lost business due to the unpreparedness.

Visulon designed their GoToMarket platform, and all the software applications ground up to handle multiple languages and multiple currencies. And that helped global corporations like Craghoppers, Coach, and Mizuno to launch their season in each of their global markets in respective languages.

Craghoppers operating from Manchester, England has significant distribution and independent Rep groups in the North America, Europe, and the Latin America. Having their digital product catalogs ready in U.K English, U.S. English, German and Spanish was an unprecedented boon to speed the process of introducing season in those markets.

Visulon’s Multi-Language Multi-currency technology platform allowed a seamless communication in the territories where users logged into the portal. Starting at the critical messages, news, functional buttons, attributes and all the product information was immediately visible to see in German, if the dealer from Germany was logging in. Visulon’s success in creating core software platform in Unicode compatible design gave an upper hand in adopting it globally.

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Visulon’s cloud-based SaaS platform advantage

by Arun Joshi
Posted on May 15 2014

Visulon’s enterprise level large application platform is designed as SaaS (Software As a Service) deployments.

High cost and deployment time are precisely the pain points that SaaS applications are designed to address. In SaaS model, subscription pricing reduces the CAPEX, and the provider, Visulon, bears the responsibility for maintaining the software and infrastructure that supports the service. That is precisely why it is easier to deploy and use such solutions.

In general, SaaS deployment can be either hybrid offerings or pure SaaS offerings. Hybrid offerings typically require some kind of collector device to be deployed on the customer’s premises, such as a virtual or a physical appliance. This collector gathers data from the customer’s network, such as device configurations, network topography and so on.

Visulon is a pure SaaS offering, we gather product data remotely, clean it up and reformat it to upload to the cloud servers. Visulon engineers set the security policies and access controls. A fully customized web subdomain and multiple levels of security measures protect the access and confidentiality of the customer’s data.

Also, Visulon operates the software and holds the data in SAS-70 Type II certified data centers. Rackspace with its global footprint of data centers offers unmatched physical security and operational controls. Also, Visulon monitors the infrastructure and applications for fault and performance and has set policies for the disaster recovery planning, continuity of operations plans and standard operating procedures.

Integration with internal or external data sources (e.g. POS data, Forecast models, sales target charts) and with third-party applications (e.g. Single Sign-on, Supply chain management, ERP, PLM or Order processing applications) is very key to Visulon’s Sales Management software. We support this integration using Web services, JDBC, LDAP, SOAP, WSDL, APIs and command-line integrations.

Visulon also monitors the data storage capacity (All SSD in Cloud) and large on-line transaction with constant vigilance. Spam or security is managed at the point of logins and elsewhere.

    Visulon’s Key SaaS Features:
  1. No capital costs.
  2. Monthly and quarterly new patches with new upgrades.
  3. Fast upgrade to the latest technology platform and framework, assuring full hardware compatibility.
  4. Fast deployment (three to six weeks including hands-on training).
  5. Highly secured application and database architecture.
  6. Continuous performance management.
  7. 24 x 7 availability in all browsers and for all cross-platform usage.
  8. Operating procedure for disaster recovery and continuous backup.
  9. Around the clock customer support.

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Sustainable Go-To-Market Process Can Save Millions of Trees

by Arun Joshi
Posted on Oct 2013

Every new season, salespeople Wendi Mathis and Scott Ohsman of Seattle struggle to collect and carry the heavy, glossy print fashion catalogs of Helly Hansen, Adidas Outdoor, Acorn and more to their sales meetings. It takes these two top notch sales experts hours to thumb through and present pages of many different catalogs to their prospective buyers at REI, Nordstrom, and Macy's, hoping for the buyers to sign off on selections for their retail showrooms next season. Then comes the circling of items in the catalog and scribbling quantities, special discounts, and delivery dates on anywhere in the catalog; it's another wasteful procedure to keep the information organized and see that it is fulfilled. This process occurs in every sales meeting. And even if a buyer decides to buy just a few items, as soon as the order information is written down, the full color, heavy weight paper catalog is effectively tossed out. This sales scenario is repeated thousands of times a day across the nation, where salespeople working for major brands sell 70% of their products to retail buyers. Millions of printed pages are wasted, while the whole process of taking an order stays unreliable and time-consuming - not to mention cumbersome.

Visulon saw a solution to this problem and came out with a product platform that creates seasonal databases of new products for major brands. Visulon’s Digital Workbook (an interactive, digital version of a print catalog) allows orders to be processed while buying decisions are being made, giving buyers instant access to the completed order, with discounts and ship dates included. Once it is approved, it gets pushed to the backend ERP, like SAP using web services.

Outdoor brand The North Face decided to use the system a few seasons ago (Oct 2013) and benefited vastly while selling to Dicks, Nordstrom, and Macy's. In addition to the reduction of wasteful paper, ink, and water usage, the brand got the added advantage of getting the most accurate, real-time product data, pricing, and availability visible to the sales teams digitally, aided by hybrid cloud storage on Visulon’s database.

When viewed not just with an environmentally-conscious perspective but a common sense one, the process of printing millions of new paper catalogs and workbooks every season is an anomaly - especially in an already digitally savvy product development and management sphere of the Apparel and Footwear industry. For several years now, new products have been designed using digital tools like Adobe’s Indesign, Illustrator or Photoshop and then transmitted into PLM/PDM systems. But for wholesale and retail sales, Marketing and Sales Operations in apparel and footwear companies still primarily rely on the printed medium.

Visulon thought deeply and critically to build a full bridge for this process by developing an innovative software product platform that would eliminate the need for paper, save on shipping and transport around the globe, and ultimately cut time to market. Companies like Converse, Bauer Hockey, Asolo, Arena, and Skins have started using the platform and find it both a useful and environmentally conscious approach to follow.

Scott and Wendi now have the convenience of taking their laptops or iPads to buyers to show them detailed, digital catalog pages of all the products they want to discuss. Salespeople have the ability to create small custom workbooks, and orders can be processed instantly. With easy login facilities, buyers can get onto the Visulon’s system to check on their order status at any time. Best of all, Scott can reduce his orders of heavy, paper catalogs from Adidas Outdoor or Helly Hansen, making his life, and ultimately sales, much easier.

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Visulon Inc.
1410 SW Morrison St. #850
Portland, OR 97205
Phone: 503 746 7509
Email: info@visulon.com
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