TradeStone’s Software Helps Retailers Pump Out Product Lines More Rapidly, Looks to Help Add Consumers to the Design Process

Boston is well known for its cluster of companies developing software for computer-aided design (CAD), and managing the lifecycle of a particular product (PLM). But Sue Welch says there’s a need for companies managing the development of not just individual products, but entire lines of merchandise. That’s the hole she’s looked to fill with her Gloucester, MA-based company, TradeStone Software.

TradeStone‘s software, called “merchandise lifecycle management,” is out to help retailers manage entire lines or seasons of merchandise from inception to design to sourcing to getting the items into stores. The company’s customers include Lowe’s, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, American Eagle, ShopRite, Shoppers Drug Mart, and are spread across 70 countries.

The technology is especially relevant as retailers have moved from the conventional practice of putting out merchandise lines that follow the traditional seasons of the year, to putting out new merchandise every few weeks. “The retailers are working within very, very compressed cycles,” says Welch, TradeStone’s CEO. “They used to have two to four seasons a year, now they have 16. We facilitate all that.”

TradeStone’s software helps retailers quickly respond to customer preferences in stores, and track which color palettes and fabrics of a certain line of merchandise are hot in stores in order to influence the next season of merchandise.

SueWelchWelch, a serial entrepreneur, says she was working in retail in the mid 1980s when she first saw the need for technology that tracks imports for merchants. She started IMC Systems Group, whose software she says was one of the first business applications for PCs—and the first application focused on importing. IMC struggled to make money, and the venture investors behind the company ultimately took it over. Two days later Welch started her second company, Rockport Trade Systems.

Rockport, which tracked both importing and exporting for merchants, had greater success than IMC, and rose to become the top software technology for retailers in global sourcing, she says. It sold to … Next Page »

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