Fast, digital supply chains empower retail

The fashion world is home to some of the most vexing and intensive sourcing and procurement requirements of any sector. The need to get products on shelves quickly, in a variety of sizes and the latest styles, demands a massive commitment of resources. While the clothing space appears more resistant to online competition than other types of consumer goods, such a transformative movement is occurring, and companies are looking for ways forward.

Working on supply chain competencies is a universal undertaking that could have a major impact on retail segments of all kinds, apparel among them. The same trends that have empowered other classes of sellers, from digitization to analytics and strategic focus could also change the way fashion retailers operate if they're allowed to take hold.

Possible advantages of modernization
Amber Road Director of Global Marketing Gary Barraco recently pulled fashion world takeaways from his organization's survey of European Union companies in an article for Just-Style. He made it clear that digital transformation in logistics could give these companies the speed and flexibility they're looking for as they struggle to get relevant items on shelves.

Changing relationships between apparel brands and their partner organizations could define the next generation of the supply chain. Barraco supported combining sourcing, production and shipping under a single digital system. When all these internal functions are accessible and visible through a single portal, personnel will have a clearer view of their relationships with third parties. That kind of information is a form of currency in the world of manufacturing and retail, enabling firms to make mutually beneficial contract changes on short notice.

Deep and strategic relationships between supply partners is one of the major features of modern procurement and sourcing. Barraco explained that incentives may improve the bonds between apparel businesses and their key allies. In an industry that has to move at high speed and often spans the globe, every added bit of efficiency and effectiveness counts.

Two women shop for clothes.The apparel market supply chain is in flux.
Major companies update operations
Supply Chain Dive recently focused on a few changes in the fashion field, mainly designed to make companies faster. The increase in online sales has put traditional organizations at risk of losing market position, and they are seeking to change their sourcing practices and accelerate. For instance, Supply Chain Dive pointed out that H&M has committed to better analytics within its supply chain. By tracking items more precisely, leaders hope to ensure they don't suffer from over- or undersupply at particular locations. The new solution, based on radio frequency identification tags, is already in use at Zara.

Retailers and manufacturers both have to cope with the realities of the hyper-speed apparel environment of 2018. According to Supply Chain Dive, this has led to a new approach at Nike. The athletic clothing and footwear giant has managed to slash lead times on orders by automating more of its processes. It is also making more structural changes to the way it gets goods, near-shoring facilities to put production capacity closer to its main consumer markets.
Clothing the world is a demanding segment of retail, and supply chain innovation is helping companies cope with its demands.
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