As COVID-19 has unleashed a wave of uncertainty and anxiety across the world, the fashion industry is sinking in a quagmire of its rundown systems that have simply been unable to withstand the brute force of the pandemic. This has undoubtedly accelerated the call for systemic change and a digital transformation in fashion supply chains that can not only enable the most transparent and effective teamwork and rearrange old systems of supply, demand, and production, but also ensure it is flexible and resilient enough to combat future predicaments, including that of the climate crisis.
Here are five tips to build efficiency in fashion supply chains through digitalization....
1. USE CLOUD-BASED COMPUTING TO CREATE DIGITAL VERSIONS OF ALL YOUR PHYSICAL INGREDIENTS
Digitize all product information including archives, tech packs, components, and material libraries. This allows for global or remote working teams and factories to access ideas and vital information, allowing for research, design, and product development to function productively without the need for physical proximity or access to resources.
2. UTILIZE TECHNOLOGY FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION
Product development and workflow collaboration software and tools can ensure exceptional communication across every player in the fashion supply chain, essential to ensure maximum efficiency across production. From ordering a certain number of samples or lab dips, tracking efficiency, and rejection rates to comparing critical paths, accessing all this information from a single source of truth ensures access to accurate real-time data leading to rapid decisions and heightened cross-team collaboration.
3. UNDERSTAND LEVERAGE POINTS ACROSS THE SUPPLY CHAIN THAT HOLD MAXIMUM POWER TO CREATE AGILE AND RESILIENT SUPPLY CHAINS
Donella Meadows, a systems thinking expert defines leverage points as “places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.” Recognizing these leverage points where the inclusion of digitization can create fundamental changes is paramount.
Embedding systems design thinking allows for building resilience in the fabric of your operations. Use this impasse to pilot digital systems and supply chain networks that allow you to access new responsible manufacturing partners, experiment with business models that stray away from conventional production quantities and calendar cycles, and transition to demand-driven models.
4. RECOGNIZE THAT TRANSPARENCY IS ESSENTIAL FOR SMOOTH INFORMATION FLOWS
Knowing your supply chain inside-out is not only an ethical responsibility but also the cornerstone of a resilient fashion brand and mobilizing technology is undoubtedly crucial to aid this process. Which country or state does your cotton come from? Where are your zippers produced? How much are your garment workers paid? What certifications do your garment manufacturers hold and till when are they valid? Tracking and tracing all this information and ensuring easy access to it through digital means ensures that your business is adequately equipped to respond quickly to any possible disruptions to the supply chain.
5. DO NOT FORGET THE HUMAN FACTOR ACROSS YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN
In the midst of streamlining and turning to digital supply chains in fashion, it is easy to forget that people form the core of making any product. Invest in technology through a bottoms-up approach and involve every member of your supply chain in it, making sure that the use of technology is beneficial to their interests as well, and that they are equally invested in the process. Understand how your product and process impact every stakeholder involved in its making and function and determine whether it stands up to both your personal as well globally established principles of ethics and sustainability.
If both sides of the supply chain implement the proper technology and automation solutions, it will lead to better collaboration, a more seamless and efficient workflow, and better margins. Brands and retailers should be engaging the correct technology and automation partner who can assess and implement the changes that are needed on both sides of the supply chain.
THAT'S WHERE WE COME IN...
With experience in both automation and technology solutions, a consultancy service, and a global presence to support both sides of the supply chain, the InHouse team provides the tools that will continue to make you more efficient and profitable.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about our services.