May 1995

Situation ...

A designer and marketer of fashionable casual apparel faced a familiar problem – designers and merchandisers designed new garments and finishes without good preliminary product costing information.

Problem ...

Standard gross margin percentages below company expectations for several products.

Solution ...

Custom-developed personal computer application to allow designers and merchandisers to request standard cost and usage data on several similar styles, then modify these as necessary for the new garment being designed. Special knowledge used in this project included:

  • Apparel industry business and profitability issues.
  • Database definition and manipulation techniques.
  • Structured Query Language (SQL) syntax and programming.
  • Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) standards.
  • Windows 3.1 and Excel 5 interface techniques.
  • Visual Basic and Excel 5 development techniques.

Product Pricing Table

We met with the designers and merchandisers to determine how they would like information presented to them. Their focus had previously been on the retail price point, even though net wholesale price is more appropriate for evaluating a new product. Our design focused on net wholesale, but also provided a retail price.

Table of Products and Styles

We determined that Microsoft Excel, Version 5, was an appropriate tool for this project. Excel 5 includes the Application Edition of Visual Basic, and database drivers to access a large number of databases. Excel 5 also has the ability to organize sheets into a tabbed notebook, and allows the placement of user interface elements, such as "radio buttons" and "checkboxes," directly on the worksheet.

Results & Benefits ...

Designers and merchandisers have accurate product cost information for comparable styles. They can now assess the financial impact of proposed garments early in the design process.

Conclusion ...

This client leveraged its investment in standard cost data by quickly delivering it in a useful format to improve new product profitability. This application was designed and developed in less than 80 hours.