Getting The Whole Picture: How Textiles and Apparels Businesses are Using Technology to Connect their Supply Chains

More textiles and apparels businesses are using technology to connect all parts of their supply chains for better decision-making.

Apparel Business in using technology for supply chain

For businesses in the textiles and apparels industry, being able to get your product  out to market quickly enough to meet demand can be the difference between success and failure.

It's a common story: a retailer finds out that a particular item is out of stock even though his system tells him otherwise, and as a result is unable to fulfill a customer's order. Without having the right information at their fingertips to make informed decisions, business owners and managers can miss out on sales opportunities, and valuable cash flow.

However, affordable digital tools are allowing even small players to implement inventory management systems that connect all parts of their supply chain; providing them with an accurate real-time picture of their inventory.

Using such Internet-based sharing platforms, suppliers, manufacturers, buyers, and logistics service providers are able to communicate with each other more effectively and easily.

Now, when a particular T-shirt or jeans is out of stock at a retail outlet, every part of the supply chain - from the raw materials supplier to the final distributor - will be informed simultaneously through the system, and the restocking process will be triggered automatically. A connected system also allows online fashion retailers to respond within 24 hours to any changes in orders; a norm in today's ecommerce world.

"Modern data and information technology allows companies across the globe to form a virtual connection, whereby supply chain partners can exchange data and information in real time. This is viewed as the best solution for the problem of uncertainty in the global textile supply chain," according to an article on business networking platform BizVibe.

Lured by the prospect of better tracking, increased efficiency and higher sales, more textiles and apparels companies are today replacing their manual spreadsheets with automated systems.   

One Singapore fashion firm that has gone the digital route is Chateau de Sable. Stephanie Lemaire, founder of children’s clothing brand had been using Excel spreadsheets to track of stock data coming from her outlets, online store or warehouse.

This time-consuming task led to many errors and lost sales. "Some customers may have booked a certain order, and our excel sheet shows that we have stock when actually we don't," she said.

Ms Lemaire decided to turn to technology for the answer, and last year she was introduced to local tech start-up BiTs through the DBS Techmatch programme. The initiative by DBS BusinessClass aims to give SMEs access to customised tech solutions to their most pressing challenges.

BiTs provides solutions that integrates and automates processes so that small businesses can grow and improve productivity by eliminating the burden of complex administration.  The firm does this by offering a host of low-cost, cloud-based enterprise resource planning systems from human resources management, inventory management and accounting.  The hope is that with BiTs system in place, Ms Lemaire will be able to make better decisions to grow her business in Singapore and abroad.

According to U.S.-based CGS, a provider of enterprise technology solutions, "Web-enabled technologies and data-driven software solutions provide the sort of insight that enable business leaders to make smarter decisions surrounding their day-to-day operations."

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