Supply chain management in the fashion industry

25th Jun 2012

 The fashion business can be deceptively complex behind the scenes, what may seem like simply clothes on shelves in a shop is kept in order by a massive amount of infrastructure and organisation.

Let's take a little look at the fashion logistics for a piece of clothing; when you buy it from the shop, the shop needs to make sure it remains in stock of all of its items, so needs to predict sales and order more from the warehouse based on their stock levels. The warehouse, similarly needs to manage deliveries to all of the stores, stock levels and space in the warehouse as well as managing deliveries from factories and manufacturers.

Manufacturers then need to manage orders and deadlines while making sure they have a steady supply of materials to manufacture the product with as well as managing deliveries from other factories in the case of more complex items of clothing which require assembly.

That's the chain for just one item, where in a shop there may be a huge range of colours and sizes for that item as well as hundreds of other items all with their own variations. Keeping track of all of this soon becomes a completely insurmountable task and in comes the need for an ERP system.

ERP is designed to keep track of stock levels everywhere from all the branches of a store to warehouses, manage factory orders and deadlines as well as material resource planning for the factories keeping track of material orders and predicting requirements based on orders and their deadlines. The way this is managed is by sharing all of the order information from the store level all the way down to the manufacturers and even the designers into a central location where management can be centralised the whole process can then be managed from the top down. This very easily turns a phenomenally complicated task into a far simpler one.

Of course not all ERP systems are so comprehensive; the type of ERP system which has been mentioned here is a very all-encompassing system which would be used by enterprise level business managing millions of products across the world, similar systems such as stock management tools exist as standalone systems for a retail outlet. While for smaller businesses this is fine, if you are looking at a smaller scale ERP system, make sure you get a system which can adapt and change with your business; getting lumped with a system that is inadequate for your company as it grows isn't a burden anybody needs!


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