How tech can transform the fashion industry’s supply chain

By Delilah Kealy Roberts

Published Jan 17, 2021 at 09:30 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

As the fashion industry has grown over the years, with more people shopping for garments and more clothing options than ever before, companies have had to show how quickly they can adapt. In the constantly evolving industry, brands everywhere have to stay up to date with the latest technological innovations so that their supply chain can keep up with an ever-growing demand. Luckily, technology is helping the industry along the way. High-tech, efficient, and sustainable supply chains are now more realistic than ever.

The revenue from the fashion sector increases year on year. By 2025, predications state that revenue will reach over £30 billion in the UK. The largest chunk of that revenue is generated by apparel sales, followed by footwear and accessories. Consumer interest in clothes shopping is not slowing down. As this accelerates, it leaves us to question how fashion supply chains can keep up with the demand.

Technological solutions

Consumer demand paired with increased costs and a move away from local resources has led to more complex processes in the fashion industry. Many factors must be considered for fashion companies to minimise waste while keeping their customers happy.

The good news is that tech and fashion can work in unison to keep up with customer demand. Technological supply chain solutions allow fashion companies to update their processes regularly while ensuring that their supply chains are safe, transparent and efficient. This is no small trend—50 per cent of large global companies are set to be utilising artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and the internet of things (IoT) in their supply chain operations by 2023. There are many ways in which tech is helping fashion keep up with the ever-growing demand. Here’s how technology-fuelled fashion supply chains are becoming more efficient than ever.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the way that fashion supply chains function by allowing companies to process massive amounts of data to find out faster than ever which products are seeing the most interest or the highest purchase rate at any given time. This really speeds up the supply chain process and allows manufacturers to know where to focus their resources. For example, if there’s a surge in demand for women’s sport shoes, brands can adapt. The benefits of AI in this respect can be seen both in the warehouse and in the product designing stage.

Cloud-based technology

A successful and efficient supply chain largely comes down to excellent communication. Cloud technology is revolutionising the way that different elements of fashion supply chains function and communicate. These cloud-based systems allow employees at every stage of the supply chain to document and share crucial information.

Automated supply chains

Automating your supply chain by creating a web of working parts that are controlled by technology has become essential for tracking and reporting on your products. With the fast-paced nature of online shopping, an automated supply chain is essential for big brands to keep up with consumer demand. Fashion brands have to deal with changes in order or returned parcels, which runs smoother with an automated supply chain.

Wearable tech

Another innovation that has helped the smooth-running of fashion supply chains everywhere is wearable tech. For big fashion brands, wearable tech is often utilised in warehouses and distribution centres, allowing for increased communication and efficiency. There are many ways in which wearable tech helps out—from in-house communication to real-time data sharing. It offers employees the ability to map the warehouses at a quicker speed. Communication and data gathering can happen on the go, negating the need for staff members to be tied to their computer screens.

Supply chain transparency

These technological innovations improve the efficiency of fashion brands’ supply chain processes. But they also make it easier for them to be transparent about their practices. This is particularly important when appealing to younger shoppers. Gen Z and millennial customers prioritise ethical practices more than any previous generation. 54 per cent of gen Z shoppers and 50 per cent of millennials are willing to spend up to 10 per cent more on sustainable and ethical products.

Technology is helping fashion brands everywhere produce clear and transparent reports on their supply chains. This is beneficial both for the brand themselves and ethical consumers.

By utilising tech in new and innovative ways, the fashion industry is able to modernise its supply chains and keep up with ever-increasing consumer demands. The next few years are set to bring more efficient, transparent, and ethical supply chains than ever before.

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