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The apparel and footwear industry outlook for 2019 and the years beyond is positive, a Moody’s report suggests. Companies will continue expanding both locally and overseas, especially in emerging markets. The positive outlook is the result of faster than anticipated revenue and profit growth. Initially, the figures were set in the three to five percent range but Moody’s revised the prediction to eight to nine percent.

Sustainable fashion industry growth is the result of minimized regulatory, legal, commercial, political and trade restraints. Some of these challenges still stand in the way of apparel and footwear companies registering sustainable expansion. Addressing these issues is dependent on company strategic decisions, as well as a rapid response to local or international dynamics. A digital transformation through the selection of the right software will be the key to overcoming most of these hurdles along the way.

Promoting Competitiveness at the Highest Level

The industry changes at a rapid pace. It’s vital to stay on track with the latest developments and introduce the right changes to navigate through the rapidly evolving international landscape.

This month, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) Board of Directors headed for a meeting and a Capitol Hill visit for the purpose of enhancing competitiveness, productivity and profitability in the industry.

The meeting addressed growing international competitiveness through a reduction of regulatory and legal obstacles, as well as political, commercial and trade restraints.

AAFA’s meeting and Capitol Hill visit enables politics and fashion interest to “meet” at the highest level, facing contemporary realities, opportunities and challenges resulting from globalization and an increasingly populated market landscape.

A Whole New Set of Challenges

Apparel and footwear companies have to dynamically adapt to the various challenges stemming from the volatile nature of today’s market.

In 2018, several factors were identified as contributing to that volatility. During an annual AAFA meeting, the uncertainty of potential tariffs and the domestic political landscape were identified as primary factors leading to market uncertainty.

The garment industry changes rapidly. Finding the right suppliers, maintaining such relationships, accommodating for political changes and facing fickle consumer attitudes all affect industry processes. In addition, product lifecycles are accelerating continuously, making it impossible to predict market trends in a sustainable manner.

For many, it’s a struggle to deliver products fast and at a competitive price to the respective market. At the same time, industry representatives have to manage multiple vendors and factories. For smaller apparel and footwear companies, juggling all of these responsibilities can turn into a gargantuan task.

The selection of the right technology is once again the answer.

Currently, the apparel and footwear industry is crumbling under the burden of paperwork and a medley of transactions – purchase orders, contracts, invoices, audit documentation, import and export records, etc. Maintaining meticulous documentation is a burdensome, time-consuming and expensive process for most of these companies.

Digital technologies can facilitate the introduction of smart documentation management, intelligent contracts and workflows. These will reduce the waste and the time required to do paper-based management and control of all aspects of the research, manufacturing and distribution process.

The Contemporary Consumer: Picky and Difficult to Satisfy

On top of regulatory and production challenges, apparel companies also have to address issues stemming from the behavior and the quickly changing desires of today’s consumer. In 2019, the retail sector will be pushed to the limit. Companies will have to build successful omnichannel strategies in a world of intensified competition and mountains of data.

While the abundance of data can be highly beneficial, its interpretation will often rank among the biggest challenges for small and medium-sized industry reps. Luckily, a digital transformation is making the required technology more readily accessible than ever before.

Many industry representatives believe that the fashion industry is entering a period of radical change.

While the needs of the consumer in this field of retail are changing rapidly, many apparel brands have remained quite old-fashioned in terms of production and management. Even giants have struggled to keep up with market dynamics and the abundance of information that consumers have access to.

Social media has made it possible for fashion lovers to gain instantaneous awareness of new trends. Fast fashion companies grant quick access to nearly everything and this has become the universal expectation, the rule of thumb in the realm of apparel and footwear.

An investment in the right technology can truly make a difference. Digital communication, strong stock management, digital material requirements planning, product lifecycle management, warehouse management and intelligent CRM solutions give companies competitive edge and a chance to set themselves apart.

Apparel and footwear consumers want quicker, better and trendier products than ever before. In the absence of digital technology, industry representatives will quickly drown under the burden of keeping up with market requirements while addressing legislative limitations and global regulatory dynamics. The Sapphire portfolio of solutions for the fashion and apparel industry features all of the essential business functions required to synchronize product lifecycle management. You control every aspect of the business – from design to production and sales. Knowledge has been power ever since the phrase was coined in 1597, and the statement couldn’t be any more accurate today. Contact us today to learn more. 

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