“See Now, Buy Now” Consumer Mentality Calls for a Faster Supply Chain

“See Now, Buy Now” Consumer Mentality Calls for a Faster Supply Chain

July 27, 2018

As technology continues to advance, the industry seems to be increasingly governed by instantaneous fulfillment. Quick processes like same-day delivery and on-demand services normalize a fast-paced culture, and the pressure to conform especially affects the fashion industry, where trends are constantly changing. While popular brands such as Forever 21, H&M and Zara are known for their “fast fashion” approach, producing replicas of fresh-off-the-runway items for sale in the time span of just a few weeks, shortening the apparel calendar is far from a quick-fix.

Facing the Standard of Speed

In 2017, revenues at companies that endeavored to bring the latest trends to stores in a short time frame rose 8.2% in 2017, compared to 3.5% growth in the overall apparel retail industry, according to a McKinsey & Company report. The disparity in sales indicates customers gravitate toward speed, which is becoming an industry standard.

Getting new styles into stores more quickly requires companies to improve internal collaboration, tap into consumer insights and digitize the supply chain. The ease at which a company is able to achieve speed additionally depends on the business model and assortment requirements. For companies like H&M and Zara, faster decisions are more feasible because they operate their own stores, but others have to find alternative time-saving ways to achieve the same results.

Eliminating Time-Wasters in Each Phase of the Product Lifecycle

Regardless of the specific circumstances of an individual brand or product category, speed in the industry isn’t about cutting corners; instead, it requires committing to a change in processes and mindset. Companies can start with setting a target length for the full product lifecycle, and next focus on eliminating unnecessary processes within the cycle’s three phases: planning, design and product development, sell-in and production and delivery.

The lifecycle can range anywhere from two weeks to more than a year in the making, according to the McKinsey & Company report. During the planning phase, McKinsey found time-saving strategies include collaboration between the company’s finance and creative teams, recruitment of data-savvy employees who can bridge the gap between analysts and designers and replacement of physical prototypes with digital ones.

In the sell-in stage, McKinsey recommends switching to a digital platform for prototypes. This change streamlines the process through substituting 3-D images on a screen for physical samples, which require more time and effort to produce and ship. While cutting out the physical aspect comes with some limitations for buyers such as the lack of feeling the materials and trying on the clothes, an upside to digitalization is the ability for increased input into the design process. Buyers can watch their color, cut and style recommendations be incorporated into designs automatically, providing the element of speed to both retailers and subsequently customers who will be interested in buying the clothes. 

Production and delivery, the final phase of the fashion cycle, can also be shortened by integrating manufacturing partners into the business, which can lead to bypassing sign-offs from the head office and eliminate up to 10 days. A centralized supply-chain planning team also cuts across divisions to provide companies with a singular view they can pitch to vendors six months prior to production.

NGC Andromeda Reduces Time to Market

For companies trying to keep up with fast-fashion retailers, outdated vendor management tools that lack standardization can be one of the biggest time wasters. During the production phase, implementing a single, intuitive tool for product lifecycle management will give companies a time-saving edge against competitors.

NGC’s Andromeda Cloud Platform, a leading tool for apparel, fashion and footwear brands and retailers, improves supply chain lead times for fast in-season flow. The digitally connected platform provides a host of capabilities for businesses that help power the demand-driven supply chain, producing tremendous benefits for its users.

Request a demo to see how NGC can accommodate your business and streamline your product lifecycle.