In one of his Ted Interview Elon Musk stated that Tesla was an inevitable market force. Maybe not today but sometimes later because the course of nature and market will compel people to move towards Electric vehicles and Tesla is just a catalyst for the same. This also agrees with the principles of Adam Smith who truly believed that it is the market forces that drive innovations and one must treat these innovations as a tool for success because it is not you that decides the adaptability of these innovations but the greater things.
We believe that timing is the most important parameter in any business. Sometimes letting things go its own way is the best way forward. Sometimes letting things go its own way is the only way forward. In this era of digital revolution sticking to the age-old tools will lead to another Nokia. The present age is the age of Big Data and AI. The world has moved a step forward. We just need to step aside, think and decide. Either we got to do the things the way we are doing or choose steps that may be different. This process change may hit our pockets but every investment does the same. In the long run, these investments will only reap results. One can choose the other way and the choice will always be ours.
Same is the case with Apparel Industry. There was a time when ready to wear clothes was an abstract concept. As mankind evolved it became an integral part of our lifestyle. With population explosion the need for fast clothing and Industrialisation was inevitable. It was nearly impossible to withstand the resistance to the market force. Those who took the ride made millions. With the advent of E-commerce and Omnichannel, the need for adaptation to technology in apparel is mandatory. It is the consumer who will eventually decide what they want to wear and when and current age is the start of a power shift from Companies to Consumers.Fashion Brands like Zara, H&M are early adopters of today’s Technology. The use of Technology in the right way has provided them with phenomenal growth. With the launch of Fast fashion, Ortega has initiated this power shift. It is high time when other brands must also leverage technology in driving Growth.
How can you leverage Technology in Fashion World of Today?
1. Start with the Basics :
The most important step towards digitization is closing the data loopholes and using the same data for better decision making. For example, most of the Fashion Companies struggle with capturing the upcoming season demand from the buyers and often relying on methods like Capturing demands by displaying Styles in Exhibitions through age-old barcode scanning. Due to a lack of process, the data captured is used only for one Exhibition and is scrapped before the next. A classic case of data losses and lack of vision.Some of the companies have now adopted Tab based booking solutions which not only helps them capture orders in a smart and efficient way but also provides them with a data platform for analyzing season on season demands by the buyers. These Smart Trade Show automation tools will not only make the order capturing process simple but will also bring the Product and Retail team on the same palette. With only one set of designs to be prepared for Exhibitions instead of 4–5 copies these Tab based tools provide the right ROI in terms of product planning and Returns. Such tools not only highlight the gaps in product and Retail planning but also provide Real-time data analytics for optimizing the Orders by different Buyers. The value addition of such Trade Show Automation tool has been great and it fills in all the data loopholes in demand capturing at Exhibitions. One such tool used by most of the Retail Giants is QArt. Fashion giants like Lee, Wrangler Levis, Raymond and many others have already started using these as the first step towards Fashion Automation.
2. Everything on a single Platform:
Apart from the Trade Show/Exhibition buying a small component of the overall orders comes from order replenishment at the Retail Stores. These replenishment consists of replenishment of CORE and current season products. These replenishment are generally Stock Dependent. Most of the fashion companies end up focusing on the number of Orders from a Particular region instead of focusing on the styles and designs ordered. Such data parameters can provide insights which are yet not known by major fashion players. The lead time of such order is around 1–2 days in standard cases. It is high time when we must move towards capturing these replenishment on a data platform so that we can use these the power of digitization by reducing the lead time, quantifying the productivity of the sales team and using the data for providing insights on stock optimization in future. There are Many Enterprise solutions available in the market with exceptional capabilities. Few leaders in the market are FieldAssist, ChannelPlay, and QArt.
3. Start Connecting the Dots :
Once all the Orders from the buyers are on a single platform move towards capturing the sell-through at Retail Stores. Once the Sell-through data is mapped with the Orders from the Retail Stores you have the power of reducing your Overstock losses, anticipating in advance what is being sold and what is being ordered. This not only gives you the demand-supply data but also a Kanban where you know what is being sold and what is the demand and you have the power of re-defining your own fashion supply. The power of Fast fashion.And going forward, you can Imagine a world where Machine talks to the supply chain and also to the consumer: ‘this personalized suit is being produced now and you will have it next morning because it’s about to be shipped’.” Tools like QArt-ISR has already started capturing sell-throughs at Multi Brand Outlets and Large format stores.
Once the processes are connected, analytics can play its role. AI and Machine learning are already reaping results in the apparel Industry. With the launch of Amazon GO stores, auto-replenishment is already a reality. It is up to us to either share the Profits by investing in technologies or take the old trodden path. As Frost said, the path you choose makes all the difference.