While undoubtedly these are still testing times for the fashion industry, with price pressures, changing customer demands and the need to do more, faster and for less, there is definitely still room for growth. The fact that the McKinsey Global Fashion Index (MGFI) forecasts a growth of 3.5 – 4.5 % for the fashion industry in 2019 (only slightly lower than 2018’s growth) is a real sign that fashion businesses can succeed even when faced with a whole host of challenges.
The growth of fast fashion in particular has been both an opportunity and a challenge for fashion businesses. The potential for growth is obvious, with customers demanding more and more items, more often, but the need to keep up with these ever-changing demands is where many businesses are struggling. Rapid expansion puts extra stress on internal systems and processes, systems and processes which are often already outdated or simply unable to keep pace in our digital marketplace. So, what should be a positive time of growth for the business can actually be more of a negative experience as systems strain to cope with any upturn in business, missing key opportunities for growth.
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This is where forward-thinking businesses are taking action, making changes to their internal processes to future-proof their business. They’re creating an organisation that can fully exploit any growth opportunities, with agile, streamlined and scalable systems in place to grow alongside the business.
Jacobo D. Kattan, the commercial division of the Kattan Group did just this. A successful business that manufactures and exports garments across the Americas and Europe, including garments under the well-known Van Heusen label, the team at Jacobo D. Kattan wanted to ensure it was best placed to pursue any and all growth opportunities. With a view to better manage inventory and operations, automate key processes to ease admin workload, centralise all data, and bring on board real-time analytics to more accurately forecast consumer demand, the team was looking for a solution that could help.
The business opted for SAP Business One with the Apparel and Footwear solution from Argentis in order to pull all their business processes together within a single system, streamlining their entire operation. The fact that all data is now centralised makes for increased visibility and control right across the business, with real-time analytics turning business information into real, actionable business insight for timely, robust and informed decision-making. This real-time access to in-depth business information makes it much easier to manage over 2,500 product variations, and the increased control over production orders leading to an 18% reduction in production errors for the business.
Product and inventory management has been automated and streamlined, cutting inventory and production costs and achieving an impressive 15% reduction in overall inventory levels. This new, functional way of working has increased efficiency throughout the organisation, reducing employee workload through increased automation, freeing-up employees to focus on more strategic, value-add activities, such as pursuing new growth opportunities and effectively fulfilling rapidly-changing customer demands.
Enhanced financial reporting and forecasting, as well as improvements to CRM capabilities, have meant that financial and demand planning are now more accurate than ever before. This helps the business to fully exploit any opportunities that might come along, without jeopardising financial stability. All of these benefits have led to an increase in customer service levels with access to more, in-depth customer information, as well as improvements to sales pipeline tracking. Ultimately this helps to reduce lost sales and boost profitability.
Perhaps most importantly when it comes to managing growth, the solution is scalable, growing alongside the business and facilitating growth rather than stifling it. Overall, the business has achieved 80% annual growth, due in no small part to the efficiencies it’s experienced since implementing this new way of working. Improved inventory management and enhanced sales pipeline tracking stand out as the leading value-adding benefits that helped the business to achieve it’s growth objectives.
For fashion businesses who are serious about fulfilling their true business potential, they need to look first at their own processes and procedures, asking whether or not they’re capable of supporting further growth. Without the right systems in place, the majority of growth strategies will fall at the first hurdle, with the infrastructure simply unable to cope with any increase in business. With a scalable, streamlined and efficient solution in place, fashion businesses can unlock their ability to exploit any growth opportunities that come their way. But this is only possible with systems in place to nurture that expansion and support the entire businesses on its growth trajectory - wherever that may lead.
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