2020 was always going to be challenging for the fashion industry with increased competition, ever-squeezed margins and political-economic upheaval making for uncertain times. But no one could have predicted just how challenging things would become, with the rapid spread of Covid-19 affecting the whole industry. Against this backdrop of dropped revenues and uncertainty, many fashion businesses are reassessing their priorities, evolving their strategies in response to recent events and upping their game to come out on top when some sense of normality returns.
One area that needs to stay near the top of the priority list is sustainability. More customers than ever are examining the environmental credentials of a fashion business before choosing to buy, with five times as many sustainable fashion products available on the market today when compared to two years ago. While the 90 fashion industry signatories of the 2020 Commitment may have only reached 21% of their targets as of last year, steps in the right direction are definitely being taken. Aside from it being the right thing to do, sustainable practices often go hand-in-hand with real business efficiencies, making it a sensible strategy to pursue for those businesses who need to make efficiency savings to thrive post-pandemic.
Technology as an enabler
With a view to developing more efficient, less wasteful operations, many fashion businesses are looking to technology to help, investing in new systems to underpin valuable efficiency savings. At the heart of production efficiency lies the need to synchronise the entire production lifecycle, unifying all business processes to provide a comprehensive, in-depth view of the business at all times. It’s only by doing this that businesses can readily identify any inefficiencies, with a deeper understanding of the complex interdependencies across the fashion supply chain allowing businesses to optimise operations quickly and effectively.
When capabilities such as Advanced Materials Requirements Planning are included as part of a business-wide system, it enables the intelligent reordering of stock, preventing costly and inefficient surplus inventory. And, the addition of Business Intelligence boosts forecasting accuracy, making the most of the available information to develop real business insight to ensure over-production and production errors are a thing of the past.
Traceability and transparency are two vital components of any sustainability efforts, too. With the right systems in place, it’s possible to track where you’re having the most positive impact on the environment, with auditable processes and KPIs showing evidence of environmental efforts. The granularity of detail that’s available enables businesses to pinpoint specific areas where they’re demonstrably reducing their environmental impact, be that through reduced power or water consumption, or waste reduction.
Additionally, the ability to track and trace the entire lifecycle of a garment, from raw materials to finished in-store product, backwards and forwards, is vital. Not only does this provide the reassurance that consumers are looking for, but shows further evidence of a business’s environmental credentials. It also enables quicker identification of process inefficiencies, highlighting areas for improvement along the entire supply chain.
While fashion businesses recognise that it’s their duty to try their utmost to minimise the environmental impact of the industry as a whole, the business benefits of pursuing a strategy of sustainability have the potential to transform a business. The increased visibility and transparency that are often bi-products of developing a more environmentally-sound business have the potential to transform a fashion organisation. Efficient, cost-effective production coupled with in-depth levels of business insight give a business the flexibility and agility to innovate in response to changing market dynamics.
With the right systems and sustainable agendas in place, fashion businesses can profitably fulfil customer demand while limiting environmental damage, even during the most challenging of circumstances. For information and guidance on how Argentis Systems can support your fashion business with a industry-specific solution, contact us.