The textile industry stands among the biggest convicts for demolishing the ecosystem. It hasn't just happened due to heaps of synthetic dyes’ waste, but also by preferring unsustainable logistics options.
90% of the environmental influence of the industry is due to supply chains
Most of us would think that manufacturing is responsible for the environmental impact of the industry. But there is a twist in the tale, as 90 per cent of the environmental influence is due to supply chains. What is the reason behind it?
It happens because the supply chain comprises numerous segments of your business, from supplies’ procurement to load and shipping, to the final delivery. The majority of your business operations are probably tied up in logistics. Therefore, you require to keep an eye on your supply chain if you want to make sustainable changes in the environmental influence of your company.
Today’s world heavily depends on fast, reliable shipping. Particularly for the fashion and apparel industry, which includes a complex, multi-step supply chain, you need to know your business’s products will make it to their destinations quickly and efficiently. Fast, organized shipping processes let fashion companies keep up with changing trends and consumer demands.
Just as in any other field, supply chain management in the apparel industry is crucial. Logistics can take your operations one step further, ensuring your planning and shipping procedures are as organized and efficient as possible.
Supply Chain Logistics Defined
Supply chain logistics look at how resources and products are gained and transported, paying particular attention to finding the most effective suppliers and distributors.
Clothing, shoes and accessories have short product life cycles with ever-changing styles that depend on the weather, consumer interests and overarching fashion trends. As the fashion industry grows and becomes increasingly complex, logistical practices such as shipping coordination are more important than ever.
Clothing and Apparel Supply Chain
Distributing garments and apparel is a multifaceted endeavor that relies on multiple distinct steps within the supply chain. Fashion designers are constantly working to stay ahead of the curve, creating new trends for future seasons and determining how to get each of the 52 micro-seasons into stores before the trends shift again.
Creating and distributing a piece of clothing typically follows a process such as:
Distributing the designs
Manufacturing the fibers
Shipping the fibers to the textile manufacturers
Manufacturing the textiles
Shipping the textiles to clothing manufacturers
Manufacturing the clothes
Shipping the clothes to distribution centers
Shipping inventory from distribution centers to stores
Shipping inventory from store to store
Processing returns, including shipping excess inventory
Clothing suppliers may also ship items from distribution centers directly to consumers.
Most of the above supply chain steps involve shipping. Supply chain logistics are particularly important for the success of the fashion industry. When one step in the supply chain experiences issues or setbacks, the entire process can experience costly delays.
Fashion Industry Supply Chain Issues
Without proper logistics in place, your business could falter in its shipping methods. Some common issues stemming from the fast-paced fashion supply chain include:
Resource shortages: A supply chain delay at any point in the process stalls the entire operation down the line. If your business experiences an unexpected shortage of resources when making or selling products, you would benefit from an improved logistics strategy.
Lack of transparency: Due to rising concerns about the ethics of fast fashion, many consumers are demanding supply chain transparency. Shoppers want to know where their clothes are coming from and the conditions under which they’re sourced and manufactured. Brands that withhold this information can face repercussions from shoppers advocating for more ethical fashion practices.
Inaccurate demand forecasting: Since fashion trends change so often, companies need to keep up with next season’s preparations. New trends can be difficult to predict, as consumer preferences, as well as media and influencer input, can increase or decrease the length of style popularity. To keep up with unexpected demands, businesses often ship excess inventory to stores, which is helpful in some cases, but also often leads to overstocked store inventories that go unsold.
The Importance of Logistics in the Fashion Industry
Logistics can combat many of the above supply chain issues. Improving your company’s shipping logistics prepares you with effective foresight and backup plans, so you can produce and ship merchandise in a variety of circumstances.
Once you’re organized and have a clear idea of all the steps in your supply chain and why they happen, you can think critically about each step and find ways to improve your current model. This can include reassessing the need for and uses of stores and distribution centers or determining how you can work best with delivery partners to improve your supply chain performance.
Some practical logistics benefits include:
1. Cost Savings
Use supply chain logistics to save costs throughout your operations. You can do so with steps like these:
See when you can utilize less-than-truckload (LTL) shipment options to save on shipping.
Warehouse your apparel closer to customers or stores to reduce transportation costs.
Analyze your logistics to see if you can reduce labor in your operations, saving on labor costs.
Using logistics in the fashion industry can also benefit customers with improved shipping practices, potentially earning return shoppers and more sales.
The companies in the sector must cope with the delivery of orders that has grown in number and that takes place at different times. To this we must add that, in addition, the packages are also returned, which do not arrive directly at the store, but at the warehouse.
3. Ability to Monitor Consumer Demands
Increased visibility into your company’s processes lets you more accurately meet inventory needs. Instead of overstocking individual stores, you can use other locations, such as port warehouses, as temporary stocking areas and move inventory to stores as needed.
You can also use advanced analytics to better predict emerging market trends and get a clearer view of what you need to ship, where and when. Better demand knowledge reduces your chances of having too much or too little inventory.
4. Increased Transparency
Improved technology and logistics make keeping track of the many steps in the supply chain easier than ever. Your company can then translate this knowledge to your customers, providing them with readily available information for ethical decision-making. Transparency also helps your business better understand its inventory levels, operations and costs, to make further improvements for the long run.
5. Sustainability Potential
As an increasing number of consumers value sustainable company practices, particularly within the fashion industry, planning and preparation are becoming critical factors in buyer decisions. By helping companies run more efficiently and work better with suppliers, improved logistics also present an opportunity for your company to dedicate more time and resources toward implementing eco-friendly practices. That focus can both honor customer values and decrease your environmental impact.
Logistic trends in textile sector
New automation systems. Improving the automation and digitization of processes will allow optimization of work and delivery times: tracking the order in real time, transport planning considering the peaks of activity, carrying out quality controls through codes of the products received
Green logistics. Betting on sustainable logistics should be an unavoidable appointment on everyone's agenda. Some proposals are use of renewable energy vehicles, better plan routes, share collaboration resources (sometimes packages from three different providers arrive on the same day) or micro hubs (delivery points that are not the usual address, and from this way the transport company avoids displacements).
Reverse logistics. One of the outstanding trends in the textile sector is to favor and promote reverse logistics. In the case of packaging, using reusable, nestable or folding elements that allow the packaging to be returned to distribution centers reduces packaging, transport and storage costs, reduces environmental impact, and favors sustainability.