Trends in the fashion supply chain

Fashion companies have long taken a consumer-centric approach when it comes to marketing and product, and rightly so. However, it is also important to pay attention to the ever-changing demand shifts of consumers, which in turn, create a ripple through fashion and retail supply chains. These trends in consumer demand can include geographical shifts, the need for diverse sales channels, and the change in consumers' spending behaviour.

The second trend we see is the growth in multi-sourcing. Over the years, brands have been shifting out of conventional sources like China. Brands are now utilising support from a broader range of countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Cambodia for the eastern side of the globe. Meanwhile, Turkey and Morocco are growing as sourcing locations for Europe. Other significant trends include prioritising sustainability and adjusting to the effects of COVID-19.

Challenges in the fashion supply chains

Research done by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit and Maersk, indicates that the three biggest challenges that fashion supply chains face are fluctuations in customer demands, lack of flexibility, and customer expectations. To this there are measures that an organisation can take to mitigate the impact, such as improving the operations and business focus and utilising technology for change.

In a recent agenda poll by Gartner, technological enablement was on the top of many business leaders’ minds. However, relying on technology alone to gain visibility is not the solution. One must make sense of the data to gain actionable insights and to make more informed decisions. However, thanks to the rapid advancement of technology, companies no longer struggle to create monthly forecasts. They can now produce more accurate data daily.

With the pace at which technology progresses, logistics practitioners should also start equipping themselves with a new set of skills like data science and engineering as we can expect traditional roles to be automated.

Companies need to adopt a more holistic approach driven from the top that combines strategy, execution, and the genuine desire to collaborate with other functions in the supply chain. Logistic technology is not the be-all and end-all solution for visibility and transparency. Adopting logistics technology as an enabler, along with business integration, is what brings fundamental transformation power through.

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Logistics technology as an enabler of change

The combination of transparency, control, and business integration provides the power to transform through improved planning, accuracy and more predictable outcomes and processes.

Fashion companies should start looking into maximising value from data and its insights by upgrading their system to allow them to capture the correct data, at the right time, with appropriate controls and measures to unlock opportunities.

To drive actionable insights, the first step is to have the ability to easily connect various sources of data. This is particularly tricky as many companies possess varying degrees of digital maturity in their supply chain. It requires flexible options to collect data from partners at all levels.

Companies then need to collect and harmonise the data from all sources in real-time. It is essential to sift through the data using intelligent algorithms and filters to create real-time signals indicating a supply chain's performance. This infrastructure allows companies to leverage modern tools to drive more effective decisions in real-time while retaining the chance to impact the outcome positively.

Stepping forward with supply chain technology

In summary, recent trends are making waves in the lifestyle industry and will significantly impact your supply chains. To turn these challenges into mere changes, companies need to utilise new logistics technologies, build more integration into their businesses, and combine them with a more transparent culture across teams. This will result in a robust business prepared for any shifts, driven by insightful data and resilient teams.

All in all, the best fashion supply chains are enablers for business growth only when they are tailored successfully.

Click the link here to see the Maersk Fashion Logistics Webinar, “Threads that Bind”, and here for the report, both which explore trends in the lifestyle industry, including how business integration and supply chain technology could enable lifestyle brands to become market leaders, especially during these turbulent times.

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