5 Things that Manufacturers Can Do to Embrace the Digital Age
Glitzy storefronts and sleek websites do an impressive job of presenting the fashion world as being digitaly-savvy and in touch with every part of modern life. Indeed, luxury brands like Burberry and retail giants like Topshop have led the way in digital customer engagement.
Yet while digital catwalks or clothing hangers that zap out Facebook likes have wowed customers, it’s a different story behind the scenes. The manufacturing side of the apparel industry has a long way to travel before it can be consider tech-savvy.
Here Fashion entrepreneur Andrew Xeni advises five ways in which fashion manufacturing needs to come into the information age:
1. Real time overview of all suppliers
The modern supply chain is notoriously complicated. Even the most dominant manufacturing giants will struggle to have a precise overview of every single item that comes in and out of their factories. Factories that have real-time oversight gain a distinct advantage within the market. By knowing exactly where materials are, where suppliers are at and how long they will take to ship, manufacturers can tailor their processes accordingly. Above all, in the light of recent media storms, ensuring products can be produced ethically is becoming more and more important.
2. Costing new items
Costing new items is one of the most complex challenges in the entire manufacturing food chain. What the manufacturer has to take into account when pricing a single item of clothing is enough to give you a headache. From the purchasing of the raw materials, to the transport costs, to the cost of dye, every single factor needs to be considered and calculated. Having an intuitive system that can calculate costs by crunching large pools of data – aggregating real-time price changes – is crucial. The fast-paced world of fashion won’t stop for calculator-pushing manufacturers, but sacking off the abacus can save time and money.
3. Working out waste
Waste is a thorn in the side of all manufacturers. Although it is currently unavoidable, garment manufacturers are forever aspiring to a zero-waste factory. Tech can be used in garment design to drive down unnecessary wastage by providing pinpoint accuracy. Less trimmings means reduced costs.
4. Hitting deadlines
In fashion, timing is key. When a garment is on trend, manufacturers cannot hang about getting it out of their factories and into customer’s baskets. This time of year is a prime example. The lead up to Christmas has already got factories vamping up their production, and the prospect of Black Friday at the end of November only adds more strain. When deadlines are fast approaching it is essential to have supply-chain oversight and precise forecasting so you know when your materials are coming in, and when your product is due out. Any hiccup in this process can have disastrous consequences for a manufacturer, so it’s best to get it right in the first place.
5. Using capacity
Finding the optimum capacity is difficult for every garment manufacturer. In the world of fashion, where both trends and consumer spending are susceptible to change, manufacturers have to do their upmost to try and align supply and demand. When manufacturers understand their business processes and how these relate to output, they can optimize their capacity according to current demand.