Fashion retailers are increasingly turning to technology to take their business to the next level. Virtual changing rooms and interactive websites use the latest technologies to improve the customer experience, but the most important innovations are found behind the scenes, within the garment supply chain. Tracking technologies can transform sourcing, production and retail processes, and help to achieve the fashion retailer’s Holy Grail - supply chain transparency.
Supply chain transparency addresses consumer demands
Susan Olivier of Dassault Systèmes cites the biggest challenge facing the garment industry as “the confluence of two forces” – namely, rising consumer demand for fast fashion trends, and the increasingly fragmented and complex nature of the globalised garment supply chain. In other words, fashion retailers are under pressure to speed up their supply chains while more links are being added, and unsurprisingly many companies are struggling to stay in control.
A key element needed to keep control is supply chain transparency. Fashion retailers who can 'connect the dots' and achieve visibility over their entire garment supply chain can examine and improve the efficiency of their sourcing and manufacturing processes.
SCDigest and Gartner’s 2014 Supply Chain Study found that 84% of respondents considered the improvement of supply chain transparency their top priority in regards to supply chain strategy. The number of companies that consider supply chain management a strategic factor in business has risen sharply over recent years, from just 27% in Gartner’s 2009 Supply Chain Study to 55% in this latest report.
Zara is one company flourishing on the high street today, with parent company Inditex boasting over 6,000 stores in 88 countries, and ranking number 11 in Gartner’s Supply Chain Top 25 for 2014. Zara is closely linked to its garment supply chain, allowing the company to react at top speed to new fashion trends, with items going from design to store in only a few weeks. Over 60% of manufacturing processes are carried out in European countries to cut transportation time, and the brand’s garment supply chain is tightly monitored using production tracking technologies.
Last week, Inditex also unveiled a new project to extend monitoring technologies beyond production tracking in the manufacturing supply chain. Inditex's brand stores will be equipped with radio frequency identification technology (RFID)
Chips embedded into plastic alarms that are attached to every garment, allowing the company to track individual finished items of clothing from factory floor to paying customer. Inditex has already installed this technology in over 700 Zara stores and now plans to roll it out across the company’s other brands. This will improve upon the company’s already tightly regulated supply chain, automatically monitoring what items and sizes need restocking in individual stores.
Up in the clouds
Gartner’s 2014 Supply Chain Study also found that the more advanced a company's supply chain is, the more likely it is to have acquired cloud-based systems. Cloud software offers accessibility to anyone at any time, from any location in the world – so long as they have an internet connection and login details. This suits companies that operate in various countries across multiple sites, and in the modern fashion industry garment supply chains are often a global endeavour.
Segura Systems is a cloud-based production tracking solution, which can help fashion retailers achieve supply chain transparency across their secondary supply chain of labels, packaging, hangers and other trim items. Segura can transform a business’s relationships with its global supply chain, ensuring that orders of garment labels and packaging arrive on time, in top quality, and at a lower cost to you. To learn more about how to take back control over your secondary supply chains, contact us today.
Originally published 25/07/2015