Top 3 Factors Reshaping the Apparel Industry
The fashion industry is constantly growing, introducing new brands in various categories, whether digital, sustainable, circular, or fast fashion. The global apparel and footwear market is expected to be valued at up to $2.25 trillion by 2025, according to Statista. Sourcing is a crucial aspect of a clothing supply chain. For a private-label clothing company, sourcing the right manufacturers or suppliers that can deliver prime products following appropriate time requirements is always an active task.
During sourcing, fashion brands may have faced the most unpredictable changes in these past few years. In addition to the pandemic, extreme weather events and geopolitical uncertainty have constrained supply, increased shipping and production costs, and made on-time demand responsiveness much tougher for global apparel sourcing. Apparel companies need to carefully select where and how they source products to minimize the impact.
Building a Supplier Network in a Global Sourcing Destination
Building a supplier network is critical to tackling at least some of the obvious changes such as increased cost for shipping and production, while the network involves complex activities like market research, prospect relationship outreach, metrics establishment, and quality inspection on their providing fabrics, accessories and trims to meet business needs with the lowest risk. Therefore, a global B2B sourcing platform may help in solving these problems.
To understand more details of suppliers, fashion buyers can get support from the 3D virtual reality tools, conduct audits of fashion materials, and assess the capability of the factories without geographical limitations. In addition, one of the common challenges for buyers to connect with suppliers is the language barrier. A communication gap can go a long way in causing sourcing inefficiency. With technology support, such as instant chat with translation and video meetings, apparel buyers can directly contact verified suppliers and have real-time interactions.
Catching Up With Global Trends Through AI-Driven Intelligence
Fashion is a fast-growing industry with new trends introduced every year or even within a quarter. Apparel companies always seek ways to catch up with global trends and hot topics, such as sustainability, nontoxic and natural finish fabrics, to adjust their sourcing focus and product offerings. With the help of intelligent technology on B2B sourcing platforms, fashion buyers can make better decisions to enhance product offerings by evaluating the trends with the best market potential.
By leveraging artificial intelligence, for example, buyers can get more precise and customized recommendations, market intelligence with big data, matching services based on product attributes, and high-demand product ranking. The insights revealed through big data algorithms can help apparel businesses and the entire fashion supply chain.
Well-Managed Time-to-Market Progress
Apparel and clothing retailers are always under pressure to supply the desired products to consumers in a short timeframe or before the style is outdated. Therefore, apparel retailers constantly look for smarter ways to source sewing materials such as fabrics, notions and appliques. Due to the short-lived, fast-cycled environment in the apparel industry, fashion brands need tighter lead times to gain a competitive edge and satisfy their customers’ expectations. It's undoubtedly one of the controlling factors of a company’s reputation and business development, as the ability to deliver quickly can boost sales, meet customer needs, and grow market share.
To gain the first-mover advantage, buyers may prefer placing orders immediately from verified suppliers, with the “Ready to Order” feature in an online global sourcing marketplace. These suppliers have the apparel or clothing in stock and ready to ship.
The Apparel Sourcing of the Future
Fashion companies consider a long list of factors when deciding where to source their apparel products, ranging from cost, speed to market, and flexibility to the risk of uncertainties. The right sourcing decisions are bound to generate great results. Therefore, it's wise for fashion brands and buyers to be properly familiar with these obstacles before sourcing raw materials and garments accessories. In this case, it's better to have a trusted online B2B global sourcing platform to build a global verified supplier community, receive market intelligence and recommendations via AI, manage your product time-to-market and other aspects, and generate a better sourcing experience.
Ryan Chen is the head of digital strategy and product development at Global Sources, an international multichannel B2B marketplace and sourcing platform connecting authentic buyers and verified wholesale suppliers and manufacturers.
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Ryan Chen is the head of digital strategy and product development at Global Sources. He has 15 years of management and entrepreneurial experience in TMT industry, specialized in Artificial & Business Intelligence, Cloud and (Big) Data technologies. Currently leading the digital transformation of Global Sources B2B trading platform, responsible for developing digital strategies and implement industry leading technologies to empower buyers around the world connect with reliable and trustworthy suppliers in greater China region, through a sourcing journey that merges seamless online and offline experience.