Supply Chain Logistics in the Ultra-Competitive Fashion Industry
Fashion products have an incredibly short life cycle as retailers race to meet consumers needs in a hyper-competitive industry. Every year there are “must have” items. These items are typically determined by trends that have been set by celebrities ranging anywhere from Kylie Jenner to Kate Middleton. Often, these trends come just as quickly as they go, leaving retailers little time to plan and execute their logistics. If retailers don’t get the hot item into stores by a certain date, retailers will have missed the opportunity to satisfy their customers.
In addition to trends, retailers must also work around other obstacles including the changing of seasons, tariffs, and importing raw materials and finished pieces from China and other parts of the world. Consider the complete overhaul retailers must conduct each season in order to keep their inventory relevant to the climate. To get even more granular, retailers have to decide which of the new seasonal items will make it into stores. For example, retailers might already have a hunch that a puffer jacket won’t sell as well in Miami, Florida, as it will in Bismark, North Dakota—so they predict demand based on previous trends and do their best to provide adequate inventory to the appropriate regions.
Here Comes the Bride…and the Unique Bridal Industry Supply Chain
The bridal wear supply chain is one unlike any other, as it is both extremely time sensitive and driven by emotions. Another distinguishing factor about bridal wear is that bridal gowns are not typically mass produced and warehoused—a factor that greatly drives the price up. Most wedding dresses are custom made to order for each bride, and customers typically try on “sample sizes” to make their choice before ordering the finished product.
What’s the reason for not mass-producing wedding gowns?
- Most wedding gowns are rather expensive, ranging from the low end of a couple hundred dollars, to the designer level where dresses can easily start at several thousand. Most retailers cannot afford to keep such a large inventory, especially when they don’t know how well a dress will sell.
- Due to the amount of space that bridal gowns take up, a retailer would need an extremely large showroom in order to maintain adequate inventory.
- Although most wedding gowns are purchased in white or ivory, bridesmaid dresses come in a variety of colors and it wouldn’t be practical to keep inventory of all color options in all sizes.
What’s Tech Got to Do with It?
Not only do retailers have to keep up with trends in the retail world, but also the technology. To combat supply chain obstacles, many retailers turn to technology to make their logistics easier to manage. Technology such as warehouse management (WMS), product lifecycle management (PLM), and others, contribute to real-time visibility and lets retailers better track their inventory across their supply chain. If a customer sees a blue shirt they like in store, but it’s not in their size and they would actually prefer it in red, a retailer can very quickly check their software to tell them where that exact product is in the replenishment or delivery cycle. By being able to meet a customer’s demand, retailers are ultimately able to generate more revenue, rather than turn down customers because they didn’t have a color or size in stock.
If you’re a retailer scrambling to accommodate the influx of demand in your supply chain, FreightCenter can help you. By getting your free, instant freight quotes, you’re one step closer to getting in a new shipment of this season’s hottest apparel.