Supply chain transparency in the IoT age

  • Written by Peter Needle
  • Published on 21 June 2018

During New York Fashion Week, Neiman Marcus’ fashion director Ken Downing said: “technology is what’s moving fashion forwards”.

During New York Fashion Week, Neiman Marcus’ fashion director Ken Downing said: “technology is what’s moving fashion forwards”. Following the unveiling of the Apple iWatch this week, smartwatches in general face some scepticism. However, there was a time when mobile phones were considered only a passing fad, and wearable technology is becoming part of our everyday lives. How will this growing trend reflect on the garment industry?

Apple unveils the iWatch

The Apple iWatch will be released in 2015, but analysts already estimate that the tech giant could sell between 30 and 50 million of the gadgets once launched. The smartwatch will allow wearers to access iPhone apps, quiz Siri, unlock hotel doors and make contactless payments. But with the iPhone (and many other smartphones) already able to carry out these functions, it’s unclear whether people will consider an iWatch a worthy investment.

The Moto 360 and Pebble both failed to make the smartwatch the new must-have, though perhaps the involvement of Apple will spur a revolution, with the iWatch causing the same waves as the iPhone and iPad. These are only the first steps into the smartwatch market, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasing the role of connected devices in everyday life.

The rise of the Internet of Things

IoT refers to consumer products with the ability to communicate via the internet, transferring data from commonplace events to be analysed and responded to. This ‘connected’ approach has led the general public to expect a wealth of real-time information at their fingertips. We can track parcels in transit, map flight routes, check traffic conditions… the list is endless.

Gartner predicts that 26 billion objects will be connected to the IoT by 2020, excluding smartphones, tablets and laptops. The wearable technology market consists of clothing and accessories with built-in IoT technologies. Most recently, ball boys and ball girls at the US Open tennis wore Ralph Lauren Polo Tech shirts which could transmit biometric data to smartphones and tablets.

Fashion brands must adapt

The IoT may change the face of high street shopping in the not-so-distant future. Carefully positioned  sensors, RFID tags and a smartphone app may soon allow items of clothing to interact with shoppers, encouraging them to make purchases and tracking in-store customer behaviour. This will connect the shopper to the store, the brand, and by extension the brand’s entire garment supply chain.

In a reflection of this, garment supply chains must be more connected to keep up with the demands of their customers. This requires supply chain transparency across production lines, ensuring that fashion brands know exactly where their orders are and when they’ll be in store.

Where we come in

Segura Systems provides infrastructure to help brands achieve supply chain transparency through a connected approach. Garment retailers can communicate effectively with manufacturers and suppliers  using Segura’s ordering framework, automating the ordering process and simplifying their supply chain.

The IoT is transforming the world as we know it, and business is being conducted through an ever-growing number of personal devices. Products and services need to be connected, or risk quickly becoming antiquated. Our Production Tracking solution is hosted online and can be accessed from any device anywhere in the world, relying only on an internet connection. Real-time alerts can even be emailed directly to retailers, keeping them updated on supply chain processes when logged out of the platform. We keep the garment supply chain connected – and with the IoT taking off, this is a vital characteristic for retailers.

Originally published 12/09/2014

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