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Published On: Fri, Feb 19th, 2016

Best Practices For Startups in the Global Supply Chain of Clothing

With the ever-growing and ever-changing fashion industry continuing its glamorous and lucrative trajectory, more and more companies are venturing into it. Competition is becoming fiercer by the day, and as more companies accelerate their ambitions by seeking greener pastures and growth, the importance of understanding the best practices of sourcing clothing materials grows. New manufacturers in emerging markets promise opportunity as well as challenges. Below are some practices that every startup should have when venturing into the world of fashion.

Agility and ‘Knowledge-ability’

For new clothing companies to compete competitively and profitably on an international scale, they need to be agile enough to react to and serve multiple markets. A company needs to keep its ears on the ground so that it can understand and meet the different business needs of various markets. Most importantly, startups need to be robust and agile enough in order to withstand changing local demands and the whims of the fashion industry.

Companies are under pressure to buy globally and while still selling to their local markets, and this creates a need to strike a delicate balance between their global aspirations and understanding of their local market.

Clothing manufacturers need to understand different markets and the expectations of customers in them. Often, consumers expect to see an ever-increasing range of goods, which means that apparel companies need to be able to iterate and launch new products quickly. Customers want variety so that they can choose what suits their taste and preferences, and this requires a dynamic global supply chain. Any company needs to stay abreast with the latest trends in fashion.

Companies should look for strategic areas to improve their supply chain and minimize the product-level mileage in their supply chain.

innovation sign

photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

Embracing Newer IT Solutions

Supply chain management is an increasingly in-demand skill. Often, it is a multi-party process that is fraught with great unpredictability in costs, risks, and quality. It is thus important for companies to employ new IT solutions to guide them through their day-to-day activities. New IT solutions can play a principal role in streamlining a company’s operation not only in its communication but also in its orders, inventory and shipments across their extended supply of chain.

It is imperative for startups to understand that no company can grow faster than its supply chain infrastructure. Thus, the more the improved the chain supply infrastructure, the more the likelihood that a company will experience growth. Companies should also endeavor to use IT solutions to source their goods and take great care when selecting their manufacturing base. The low wages of Bangladesh might look appealing, but are they low enough to justify the headaches that will arise from dealing with an underdeveloped infrastructure?

Companies need to understand that traditional IT solutions cannot always handle the demand of a multi-faceted global supply chain of clothing company that operates in different and complex markets. It is hence important for new startups to review their IT solutions and invest in updating them if necessary. Choosing the right supply chain software can make or break a startup.

Identify Innovative Partners

Even if you are an artist or crafter, designing clothing is never a one-woman show. Understanding what you can outsource and delegate for your DIY projects will allow you to save time and cut costs. For example, there are companies that will allow you to design your own woven labels, ribbons, and tags. The ability to outsource critical parts of the design process means that more and more crafters are going to be able to bring their creations to life at a much lower cost than they otherwise would. So you don’t need to be a supply chain manager or even possess an understanding the supply chain if you are a smaller operator. Depending on your budget, it might make sense to outsource critical parts of the manufacturing process so you can focus on what you do best- design!

To identify the right partner, you should first segment your supply base. Try your best to identify each “node” on your process (for example, woven label design would be one) and seek out specialists in that area.

Expect Competition

As mention earlier, the fashion industry is fickle and can be brutally competitive. Develop a strategy and a business plan, of course, but understand that you will need to be highly adaptable to thrive in today’s world. Don’t fall in love with your first idea because there is a good chance that it will change.

And don’t feel alone- companies across all sectors are struggling with the velocity and complexity of change in the business world. There is hence a need for companies of all sorts to explore and develop new strategies that will help them address the challenges of an increasingly global world.

When a company comes up with effective strategies, the greater the potential of becoming a thought leader in global supply chain of clothing industry.

Involve the Employees

Last but not the least; companies should try to involve their employees as much as possible with the strategies they come up with. Companies should make sure that their employees feel that are part and parcel of the companies visions and goals. When the employees are happy, they can have a major impact on the customers.

Guest Author: Steve Serrata

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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