“Business of Fashion’s” (BoF), The State of Fashion 2019, reports that the apparel consumer has become more distrusting to companies who do not offer full transparency. In this digital age, consumers expect to be able to track and understand the logistics of their product purchases. As conscious consumerism continues to rise, brands can no longer afford to hide their supply chains from their customers. We have consistently seen that consumers are willing to pay a premium for goods that align with their values—up to 66%, according to the State of Fashion. BoF also reports that 42% of millennial consumers say they want to know what products are made up of and how they are made before they buy. In response, brands are moving towards “radical transparency” in their manufacturing, in hopes to regain the trust of disenchanted customers.
Brands are now playing catchup to implement the transparency into their supply chain that consumers are demanding. H&M-owned Arket is allowing their consumers to see the production floor where the product was made and listing out the locations of the factories. This creates a sense of trust as customers are touching and feeling the product. Designer Martine Jarlgaard also launched a pilot to track the clothing production process from raw materials to consumers using blockchain technology. While these initiatives are great, there needs to be a larger push across the entire fashion industry.
As consumers become more impatient with brands to provide transparency, the only solution for brands is to begin implementing technology that does the heavy-lifting for them. The apparel industry is traditionally fragmented and untraceable, with communication separated by email, calls, and face-to-face meetings. Technology that can unify the entire supply chain from ideation through the end of the consumer journey allows companies to be able to identify every person involved in the production process immediately. They can then sell that transparency to their consumer by identifying exactly where products were made and by who. This allows companies to appeal to a new wave of customers and stay relevant in the coming years.
While there are hundreds of options for brands to choose from, most software is segmented to a particular stage of the production process. Apparel companies need technology that is going to allow them to have an end-to-end view of the supply chain. The Suuchi GRID, for example, can sit on top of existing fragmented software or serve as the solution to provide brands with complete transparency. Through the GRID, they can also unify their communication, have minute-to-minute updates on products, and pull analytics straight from their supply chains.
Radical transparency is already what is expected to be the standard for all supply chains, but especially in the fashion supply chain. Unless fashion brands take action to adopt best practices and improve measures from within, they will fall to the wayside and be replaced by brands who are willing to be open.