The volatility in the fashion industry has been increasing enormously. The small- as well as mid-level competitors are eating up from the share of traditional large retailers. To increase the market share, the companies must adopt certain strategies, in addition to understanding the dynamics of current market.

One of the major reasons of the current volatility in the fashion industry is the supply chain issue across the industry, caused due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. With all the government bans and lockdowns, demand can be abolished overnight, if a business does not have an e-commerce platform. For maintaining the supply chain, some factors must be kept in mind, like the price and trend fluctuations, maintenance of customer satisfaction, optimising the inventory and lead time of products, ensuring JIT implementation and other such strategies. Few of these are mentioned below:

1. Moving from a lean to an agile supply chain

The lean supply chain is ideal when you are making high volume products with a very low cost. The main conclusion of a lean supply chain would be creating best valued goods for the end consumer. The whole strategy depends upon predictions from the last season’s sales and forecasting of the future sales. Coming to the agile model, it has a more flexible and adaptive approach. It depends on the concept of waiting and watching in which direction the market is headed before making any decisions. It enables the businesses to respond to the demands rather than focusing on the predictions eradicating the risks of over production. It can be beneficial only for businesses with a short life cycle or where products are customisable.

2. Perishability

The two lifecycles in the retail business are seasonal as well as fashion life cycle. As we see the volatility today, these lifecycles end in days and weeks, instead of months. If you are the first brand to adopt a particular trend, there is a very slight gap in your competitors to catch up to it and then one might be left out with a lot of excess inventory if not managed properly. For a problem like this, one must switch to a hybrid supply chain model to be able to source the apparel in low cost for the consumers along with being less susceptible to the fast fashion.

3. Transparency and sustainability

The impact on the environment during manufacturing of products has become more important than ever before. This in turn has also shifted the focus of brands towards sustainability and transparency of their vendor partners’ supply chain ensuring they are ethical and environment conscious in their approach. Investing in vendors and solutions that will provide trackability of products at any given point and making sure of continuous audition for sustainability measures are the steps to be taken for this issue to be resolved.

4. Production lead time due to outsourcing

Many of the brands consider sourcing products from low wage countries to reduce the production costs that results in delayed supply to the stores due to the extended delivery time. It makes the products susceptible to changing demands of the consumer and provides a shorter window for sales. A solution to this could be having multiple production partners for the same styles to tackle the delays and last-minute production issues.

5. Supplier performance

The supply chain issue is not just a process complication, but sometimes the suppliers are not standardised and organised. It is all about working with the partners and helping them achieve better outcomes. Setting clear goals and objectives, providing partners with proper guidelines, and setting as well as mutually agreeing with the benchmark that you would want them to achieve can help them as well as your business.

A well-executed and systemised supply chain system will transform the business drive of any company. Learning and executing can also lead to better communication, visibility, sales and will enable the retails to be updated with latest fashion. It might look like a lot of work in the short-term but will provide brands with better hold and visibility over the market and their own businesses.