Amid an ongoing pandemic, rising labor and shipping costs, skilled operator and raw materials shortages, and other formidable challenges, fashion and soft goods supply chains are stretched to their limits. So well documented are these disruptions that they have become top of mind for consumers, who are being warned to expect delays, higher costs and empty shelves this holiday season.
To successfully navigate these obstacles, retail, textile, apparel and footwear executives must increase their efforts to:
- accelerate cycle time
- control costs
- ensure supply chain transparency
- build sustainable products and practices.
Great strides have been made, but heading into 2022, manufacturing remains a frontier ripe for digital transformation.
Here are several predictions for how consumers, brands and their supply chains will drive and respond to change in the coming year—and how to seize opportunities hidden amid today’s sea of challenges.
Prediction #1: consumers demand sustainability
Consumers will spend more with eco-conscious and socially responsible brands. They will seek out products from brands embracing sustainable, ethical and transparent practices across their supply chains, from raw materials to manufacturing to fulfillment.
The Opportunity: Brands and retailers have an excellent opportunity to engage consumers in the act of doing good. In 2022, successful businesses will put social responsibility and environmental sustainability front and center. Companies will step up investment in sustainable, transparent supply chains. In turn, customers, feeling positively about purchasing, will increase spending with trusted brands.
Prediction #2: brands prioritize transparency
Retailers and brands will heed the call and work diligently to meet consumer demands for sustainable practices. Not only will forward-thinking brands work hard to achieve transparency, but they will also prioritize these initiatives to ensure their positioning with consumers. They will exert influence with every facet of their supply chain to be more transparent.
The Opportunity: to achieve transparency, manufacturers will shift technology investments to B2B e-commerce, collaboration and shop floor visibility and control. While B2B e-commerce has historically been the realm of retailer-brand collaboration, it will expand to encompass manufacturing partners and suppliers. As companies rationalize and revamp their supply chains, they will choose manufacturing partners capable of providing transparent processes and a real-time flow of information. This process visibility will be essential to answer customers’ critical questions such as: Where are you sourcing? How are you fostering fair and ethical trade practices?
Prediction #3: supply chains go digital
Manufacturers will implement technology at a historically rapid pace in response to these pressures. Even the smallest suppliers will look to break down information silos and barriers to data flow. Digitization has the power to make both people and processes significantly more efficient and to enhance transparency.
The Opportunity: Manufacturers who go digital are worth their weight in gold to end-customers. Just as no brand would consider operating without an e-commerce site today, few manufacturers will produce without some form of digitalization on their factory floor in 2022 and beyond. Solutions like shop floor production management systems (PMS) and B2B e-commerce bridge the gap between the factory and the brand, resulting in a win-win scenario.
The path forward
The good news is that technology to meet the challenge of these 2022 predictions is readily available. Supply chain partners can use B2B e-commerce and shop-floor control solutions to access real-time production data to share with brands and retailers. At the same time, they will increase their own efficiency and profitability. Make 2022 the year your business enhances processes to support sustainability—and deliver the products, experience and relationship your customers really desire.
Michael Penchansky is vice president, global business development, manufacturing solutions for CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services. He has more than 20 years of experience in fashion retail, wholesale and technology and has assisted many retailers, brands and manufacturers in successfully navigating their transformation to fully digital processes and business strategies. For nearly 40 years, CGS has enabled retail, fashion, apparel, footwear and soft goods companies to drive breakthrough performance through end-to-end business applications. CGS is wholly focused on creating comprehensive solutions that meet clients’ complex, multi-dimensional needs and support clients’ most fundamental business activities.