Before the outbreak, the world was full of “I want it now!Consumers.The combination of high-speed Internet and social media has led to an FOMO culture in which stores and brands are constantly scrambling to keep up.But with the emergence of COVID-19, the word “destruction” doesn’t seem the right word.It’s more like hitting a baseball bat on the knee.In the six months since the outbreak began, supply chain diversification, artificial intelligence and 3D design have become increasingly important in the fashion world.
According to the Harvard Business Review, manufacturers in dozens of industries have had to deal with the impact of the epidemic on their supply chains.
Tom Lynton and Bindya Wakil, in an article, summarised the need for more resilient supply chains: “Unfortunately, many companies are facing a supply crisis stemming from weaknesses in their sourcing strategies that could have been corrected years ago.”
When the outbreak hit, Asian clothing manufacturers lost billions of dollars worth of orders, with brands and retailers quickly canceling orders to stem the damage.Some Western companies have made payment agreements.But there is a national debate about how to bring all kinds of manufacturing back to The United States.
According to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle MonitorTM, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of consumers say they check country-of origin information at least sometimes before buying clothing.Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) said it was important to them to “make in America” because they wanted to support their economy, followed by their belief that clothing made in the United States was of better quality (53 percent).
“Supply chain is definitely one of our biggest concerns,” says David Alpern, senior vice President and head of division at Ralsey Group, a knitwear and sportswear brand.He spoke at a recent webinar with Deborah Weinswig, CEO and founder of Coresight Research.
“As a sector, we invested a lot of money in China,” Mr. Alpern said. “As the tariffs went up, there was a panic, and we kind of escaped it.But inevitably there will be geopolitical issues…We are looking to diversify and expand our supply chain base, but there are still cost issues.It turns out that The value of China in the context of the epidemic is obvious, because when they first experienced it, it seemed like it could get out of control, but they managed it very, very well.In addition, most of the outbreaks occurred in the second quarter of 2020, which is not a peak season for sweaters.So from a production point of view, we’re not affected by it.We are very concerned about China’s attitude, and we are also very concerned about geopolitical issues.This has forced us to diversify into high-risk areas.Because those countries without infrastructure are more vulnerable to the impact of novel Coronavirus.”
Retail Systems Research, RSR, based on its June 2020 baseline report, believes ai will help the industry be more flexible in responding to crises.
Brian Kilcurse and Steve Rowen, managing partners at RSR, wrote in a recent benchmark report: “Retail supply chains now exist in many verticals, primarily for operational excellence and economic advantage rather than for flexibility.”For the past half century, a basic assumption of the retail supply chain has been that consumers buy what retailers have to sell, with the goal of promoting as many products as possible through sales channels (mainly stores).But today, empowered by a world of choice, consumers are rebeling, and they are rebating against environmental waste, especially when it comes to clothing.Consumers need retailers to provide solutions tailored to their lifestyle needs.”
According to Cotton Incorporated’s Spring 2020 US Coronavirus Response Survey, since the coVID-19novel Coronavirus pandemic began, most consumers (64%) have become more concerned about sustainability and environmental issues.Already, 35 percent of consumers say they always or usually buy clothes made from sustainable, environmentally friendly or natural materials to protect the environment.56% of respondents said that sustainable development/environmental friendliness has had a certain/great impact on their clothing purchases.
According to novel Coronavirus response survey, 55% of consumers indicated that sustainability and environmental protection will be somewhat/very important in the apparel they plan to purchase.
Sustainable raw materials have been the most attractive area in terms of fabrics.
“This is our biggest growth area and is now becoming a key entry point,” Mr. Alpern said. “We also see antibacterial properties as an opportunity to add value to our product range in terms of performance.”
When it comes to speeding up the decision-making process, Mr. Alpern said he sees virtual and three-dimensional design as a real opportunity.
“You can see the visualization of the design, especially patterns and colors, much faster,” he says.Digital artists may take hours to complete, but not days to make a sample.There is no sea transfer.It can really speed up your market decisions a lot.”
Even in a downturn, says RSR, low prices and ubiquitous product designs are no longer enough to win customer loyalty or sales.
“For retailers selling FMCG (fast moving Consumer Goods), apparel and specialty retailers, the solution to their internal problems is to measure supply chain activity through business analysis,” said RSR.In the world before the outbreak, these figures made perfect sense.In the post-epidemic era, this makes even more sense.Because of the unpredictability around a lot of things, customer demand, customer tolerance, supply shortage, local outbreak, excess inventory and store operation management rules and regulations, not to mention the manufacturing and shops closed, either temporarily or permanently, selling food and clothing as close to real-time response to the supply chain event, it is not surprising.”
RSR said retailers and brands were looking for technologies to improve their demand forecasting models, such as using macro indicators such as market data, weather information and social media trends (73 per cent).Retailers also expect AI and machine learning to help with capacity planning (59%), data cleansing and data robustness (55%), real-time insight into embedded operational processes (55%), and predictive analysis of vendor segments (54%).
The best way to maximize ai insight is to bring data scientists into the team.But for smaller companies that don’t have a full-time budget analyst, RSR recommends relying on technology vendors and making sure they are committed to flexible and consistent data delivery.
“In the case of sales has negative effect, it is difficult to convince the troubled retailers opened the purse to accept a new solution,” RSR said, “however, although it seems counterintuitive, but that investment in this period have their own businesses more intelligent operation, not only has a better chance to survive, but also have the opportunity to get some progress.”