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FAQs: Color Management Program in a Retail Strategy

Color management programs can help retailers and brands avoid inconsistencies in their apparel, footwear, home textiles and hard goods collections.

Colorful shelf in a retail store

November 16, 2021

Following UL’s webinar “Colors in Fashion: How Color Impacts your Retail Brand,” we interviewed our color expert Denise Wilson to understand the key benefits of a color management program. Read the below interview to learn more about the benefits of a color management program.


Do you recommend building a color management program based on digital color approval alone?

Denise: Digital color management is the future. The technology has been continuously evolving over recent years, and numerous retailers and brands are adopting this technology at an accelerated pace. Most recently, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to adapt to unconventional remote work environments.

Digital color management is essential and should be included as part of any robust color management program when possible. It helps ensure color is communicated consistently throughout the supply chain, starting from the early development stages. However, there are still some limitations to be considered along with the human factor. Color is a visual experience, so there is still significant value in seeing and touching what the customer will experience. A blended program, using digital and visual color processes to meet the needs of each brand and retailer, helps ensure a comprehensive and successful color management solution. 


What are the benefits of incorporating digital color as part of your total color management program?

Denise: Digital color management provides flexibility for people to work from anywhere, which is critical in today’s ever-changing, fast-paced world where demands are increasing, and timelines are growing shorter. It ensures color expectations are communicated consistently, accelerates color development and reduces subjectivity in decision making. Digital color management provides greater visibility for the entire supply chain while increasing confidence in color matching. Feedback is quick, noticeably reducing turn times for color approval. Cost savings, achieved by reducing the number of laboratory dip iterations and eliminating the need to ship many samples around the world, are significant. Digital color management also promotes sustainability and is an integral part of streamlining any color management program.   


Why is it necessary to use engineered certified color standards?

Denise: The ultimate goal of every brand and retailer is a successful color management program that ensures exceptional color coordination and consistency. This helps convey a message of product quality and integrity that is second to none. To achieve this, everyone in the supply chain must understand the retailer’s or brand’s expectations for a certain color. The most effective way to communicate exact color specifications is through the use of defined and repeatable certified color standards.

By using certified color standards, everyone involved in the supply chain is matching to the same color target — master digital color standards consisting of defined QuickTime eXtension (QTX) files that do not change. Additionally, tightly controlled physical color reference standards, generally within a 0.50 dE CMC (delta E Colour Measurement Committee) tolerance to the master standard, provide the consistency required for successful visual color assessment. An added benefit is that many color standard providers will also provide technical support and guidance when difficulties arise with color matching.

How UL can help

UL offers color evaluation services that help provide color consistency for apparel, accessories, footwear, home textiles, hard goods and packaging. Our full-service, customizable services help manufacturers, retailers and brands meet consumers’ expectations for color quality while protecting product integrity.

UL’s state-of-the-art laboratories employ color experts capable of completing assessments within 24 hours.

Color assessments are recommended in the early stages of the supply chain to mitigate large-scale disturbances later. However, we can provide a color evaluation at any time, including merchandising at retail.

Contact us to learn more.