The apparel industry is one of the few industries where viral brands can pop up overnight. Thanks to the rise of influencer marketing and social media, industry leaders can be established within the first five years. However, the truth is that without supply chain tech, the apparel industry can also destroy a company just as quickly as they rose to success.
With every failed start-up and established company in the industry, every expert tries to analyze where it all went wrong. The majority of the time, the issue lies in the fact that there are deep-rooted supply chain issues. As many companies do not see the value in investing in technology from the start, the long-term ROI is more than worth the investment.
Long-Term Data-Backed Decisions
The fashion industry has often been a guessing game. Forecasting up to a year in advance, minimal communication from overseas suppliers, and little visibility into the physical supply chain means that brands often don’t know what is going on through the production process. By implementing technology into the supply chain early, brands can track what styles are perpetual top sellers. Instead of predicting the next best trend or trying to reinvent the wheel, brands can stick to what they know and put the styles out there that work best for their consumers.
Once these styles are identified, brands can identify ways to increase their margins on their top sellers. Through data such as time to make versus sales and cost of goods across the product’s lifetime, companies can identify ways to automate the process and bring down their labor costs. Whether this is through smarter factory assignments as your supply chain grows, establishing more efficient operations at each step of the product life cycle, or leveraging more cost-efficient design techniques to be used across silhouettes, brands can use their lifetime stats to increase their profit.
You Can Show Investors Real Stats and Projections
If your company chooses to take on investors or outside capital, the first thing they are going to want to see is proof of your current success and your projections to scale the company. If there is no trace of what has gone right, brands will be stuck backtracking to pull together that information together. It becomes much more difficult to track across the business if there are black holes of information and disconnectedness across the supply chain.
Without the data of current success, there is no data to back up how you are going to continue to grow the company. Without any data, companies are back to square one on forecasting based on what they can piece together. Investors are going to ask for these metrics, and if you’re able to be proactive in providing that information, it sets you apart from other brands. If your company is looking to elevate to the next level through outside funding, it will be much harder to sell investors on your idea and company if you have no concrete proof of success.
Establish the Personalization Model Without the Risks of Fully Custom Production
While it may seem that the apparel industry is trending towards a fully, made-to-measure model, this is not the case. Many companies have found that an only made-to-measure business does not lend itself to scalability, nor is this what consumers want. One example of this is the now failed custom shoe company, Shoes of Prey. They found rapid initial success but struggled to scale the brand in a way that allowed them to keep their profit margins. “We learned the hard way that mass-market customers don’t want to create, they want to be inspired and shown what to wear,” co-founder Michael Fox wrote in March. “They want to see the latest trends, what celebrities and Instagram influencers are wearing, and they want to wear exactly that.”
By using data to pick the top trends across sizes and seasons allows for a nearly custom model that also shows consumers what’s trending and what they need. In this type of product marketing, companies then eliminate consumer anxiety when shopping. This significantly minimizes execution risk when catering directly to consumer needs while also giving brands better control over the purchase orders they’re placing.
As apparel entrepreneurs start building the foundation of their companies, they should look to technology to be their baseline. Without data to provide insight into why the company is seeing success or remaining stagnant, then there is no way to understand how to scale your company.