Organizations in the apparel industry striving for a competitive edge need appropriate supply chain and inventory management software. Whether online or brick-and-mortar, fashion-based businesses require a lean and robust software solution that can manage design, procurement, manufacturing, inventory, performance metrics, and more.
With many moving parts in the management of any apparel-based supply chain, a cutting-edge software solution is ideal. However, how should an organization go about finding the right solution? This article aims to guide businesses in this search.
The Apparel Supply Chain Workflow
An ideal apparel supply chain software solution should help optimize and provide full control and visibility over the supply chain, assisting with cost control, vendor management, and meeting deadlines across a centralized platform. The following are the steps that need to be simplified by the software of choice:
- Design: Designers develop new clothing styles and designs throughout the first phase of the apparel supply chain. Making sketches, choosing fabrics, and completing requirements are all part of this process.
- Procurement: At this stage, suppliers for raw materials, including fabric, thread, and zippers, are sought after. Depending on the manufacturer’s preferences, sourcing or procurement may be local or international.
- Manufacturing: The manufacturing process begins after locating the raw materials. In this phase, the clothes are assembled by cutting and stitching them together in accordance with the design requirements.
- Quality Control: The clothes must undergo thorough quality assurance checks before distribution. This step entails checking the clothing for flaws or other problems.
- Distribution: Garments are either transported directly to a retail location or to a distribution center, which is frequently shared by several large stores. The movement of the apparel through this phase is closely tracked and monitored to make improvements at a post-distribution quality control stage.
- Retail: This is the final stage, wherein the end user buys the garment either at a physical outlet or from an e-commerce website or mobile application.
How to Choose the Right Apparel Supply Chain Software
Fashion retailers always look for the latest technologies that can boost the efficiency of their supply chain, billing, marketing campaigns, and inventory management. There are hundreds of options when it comes to omnichannel supply chain management solutions. When choosing the right one for the business, consider the following:
- Needs Assessment: Before searching for supply chain software, identify the areas of the workflow that need digital intervention carefully. Hold brainstorming sessions with higher management to define the level of control needed over inventory and how the solution should fare as the business scales up.
- Capabilities: The software should include features that expedite the supply chain workflow. Capabilities that enable material and fabric management, cost estimation, automated inventory restocking, monitoring, and reporting must be part of the final consideration.
- Automation: Automating the workflow in the apparel supply chain can greatly increase the value of a software solution that facilitates this process. Software that can automate item-level tracking, product lifecycle management, virtualization, and other tasks, provide a cutting-edge supply chain solution for the apparel industry.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Take into account the cost of the solution to appropriately fit the budget planned for such an enhancement. Ensure that maintenance costs and the cost of training employees fits within your specified budget
- Scalability: The software should seamlessly scale as the business grows in terms of production volume and subsequently revenue. The solution should not deteriorate in terms of effectiveness and quality even when it expands to fit the size of the business. Avoid switching to a new software solution if the solution cannot easily accommodate business growth.
- Ease of Use: The software system should not be too complicated and technologically complex. Workers in the fashion industry require a system that they can quickly adapt to without extensive training.
By carefully considering factors such as functionality, scalability, and compatibility with existing systems, apparel businesses can make an informed decision that aligns with their unique needs and goals with the software solution. With the right software in place, fashion and apparel companies can optimize their supply chain processes and stay ahead of the competition in an ever-evolving industry.