3 Ways to Overcome Apparel Supply Chain Uncertainty
One thing that every fashion and apparel business has in common is supply chain partners. Whether you’re an apparel manufacturer, retailer, or wholesaler, you’ll be communicating with a third party at some point in your supply chain.
This means that any hiccup in your communication cycle can hamper the overall delivery chain and may result in unhappy customers. No matter where you’re located, what fashion product you’re selling, or where you’re sourcing your raw material from, if you don’t have the right supply chain collaboration mechanisms in place, you can’t achieve sustainable business growth.
So where does supply chain unreliability come from, and what can you do about it?
Apparel Supply Chain Challenges
There are three primary factors that contribute to supply chain uncertainty:
Longer lead times for imported materials
As the number of well-informed and tech-savvy consumers increases, there is a proportionately higher risk of brand sensitivity. Any stock-outs or quality issues can divert your customers to competing brands that have a more responsive value chain. In other words, since full packed sourcing companies are completely reliant on vendors for the timely delivery of imported materials from multiple vendors to start the production process, the lack of a powerful vendor communication platform can result in longer lead times and put a strain on resources.
Tight delivery schedules due to seasonality
The fashion and apparel industry is replete with seasonal volatility due to holiday shopping, promotions, and sales. While this provides opportunities to attract high order volumes, mismanagement and lack of planning can have a negative impact on brand image and lead to permanent loss of sales. This creates a need for a flexible tool that offers more than just basic collaboration with vendors. It must provide near-instant response times and a complete view of all key performance indicators.
Inability to accurately estimate customer demand
Failure to predict what will sell the most, identify items that will soon go out of fashion, or discover new and lucrative consumer segments can cause companies to over-source materials that might not translate into sales, or under-source materials for products that may be in high demand. Organizations that base their estimates on guesswork instead of using data and technology expose themselves to profit erosion.
3 Ways to Reinforce Reliability
You can tackle these challenges by implementing a fully connected and integrated vendor collaboration structure across the following supply chain segments:
Using advanced analytics to project production plans according to consumer demand and identifying production issues earlier in the cycle through a well-connected business ecosystem will provide visibility to all of your vendors. This will help them plan for fallback material in advance and align on quick deliveries during highly volatile periods.
Seamless Order Issuance
Reduce steps from receiving production estimates to placing purchase requests, tracking orders, and clearing invoices by making sure that all data is aggregated in one place and is transparent to all third parties. You can accomplish this by reducing communication via email and auto-syncing business activities between your vendors’ systems and your own. This will reinforce proactivity and reduce last-minute deliveries and fulfilments, because all of your orders will be accurately placed in the right quantities with the right vendors at the right time.
By bridging the gap between obtaining each order status from your internal supply chain department and following up with different vendors, advanced vendor collaboration technologies offer your organization the ability to track deep vendor milestones with automated notifications for any anticipated delays in predefined timeframes.
Your apparel firm needs more than just basic collaboration tools to gain the exceptional agility and market response time required in this industry. Join our experts at Visionet for an insightful webinar and learn more about how your fashion and apparel brand can maintain closer collaboration with vendors throughout the production and delivery cycle.