Digitalization in the fashion industry

Digitalization and digital transformation are two of the most common buzzwords in all sectors of the economy, especially in the Fashion industry.

Valentina Cavenaghi, Business Developer at Bsamply

Challenges and Opportunities for the Supply Chain

Digitalization and digital transformation are two of the most common buzzwords in all sectors of the economy, especially in the Fashion industry, where the first to realize the importance of technology and take action to integrate it into their business models were the big brands.

Following their example and driven by the growing demands for transparency and traceability coming primarily from consumers, the various players that make up the production chain, such as packers, material suppliers, and subcontractors, have also decided to embark on the path of process digitalization.

Digitalization as a cultural shift: 5 challanges

This is a real cultural and organizational change, as well as an economic and social one. Digitalization has introduced major new challenges for fashion companies, which can be summarized in 5 macro-categories:

  1. Investment in technology: The digitalization process requires companies to invest significant resources in equipping themselves with up-to-date hardware and software. This represents no small commitment, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.
  2. Training and technology adoption: Adoption of new technologies also requires significant investment in staff training, who may, in some cases, find it difficult to adapt to new digital tools and processes.
  3. Standardization: It happens very often that different software and management systems are in use in each company. It is therefore essential to implement a standardization process that ensures effective and efficient communication between the various systems in place.
  4. Adaptability: Digitalization requires companies to be more flexible and able to adapt quickly to the needs of a constantly changing market.
  5. Cultural and organizational changes: Digitalization requires companies to reorganize their internal structures, bringing greater focus and attention to aspects such as collaboration, creativity and flexibility.

Digitalization as a cultural shift: 5 opportunities

Parallel to the listed challenges, several opportunities also arise for the fashion industry, which again we can divide into 5 categories:

  1. Operational efficiency: Adopting the latest digital technologies enables fashion brands to improve efficiency in multiple areas, from design to production, from supply chain management to distribution.
  2. Data analysis: New technologies enable businesses to collect and analyze large amounts of data. This helps them to better understand how consumers behave and to predict market trends, thus making more informed decisions.
  3. Sustainability: Digital technologies support brands in collecting data, documentation, and certifications needed to identify the composition, origin, and consequently to the environmental impact of products.
  4. Real-time response to market changes: Ensuring more agile decision-making processes and flexible production systems, digitalization enables companies to adapt quickly to market changes and customer demands.
  5. International expansion: Online presence enables companies to reach a wider customer base, opening up the possibility of growth in new markets abroad.

A very important aspect of digitalization can be understood from this analysis. Indeed, it offers great opportunities for fashion brands, but at the same time requires careful and precise management of the challenges it opens up. However, digital transformation is a strategic asset that needs to be managed gradually and smoothly to enable companies to integrate major changes into their processes without running into abrupt slowdowns.

The key to meeting these challenges is planning, which must be well-mapped out and have a long-term vision. Companies that can accurately plan the digitization process will be able to successfully adapt to changes, efficiently handling the challenges of an ever-changing market.

Bsamply: the HUB connecting all key players in the fashion industry

The Bsamply solution has always interfaced mainly with the upstream part of the supply chain and often with small and medium-sized businesses that are not very familiar with the technology. Together with Deda Stealth, by combining their know-how and industry experience, Bsamply is now able to vertically and crosswise cover the entire fashion production chain.

After an in-depth discussion with our clients, we identified what are the main critical issues in the relationship between brands and their suppliers. First, we find the fact that these two actors are often at different technological stages. Many processes are still performed manually and are not very smooth, making it difficult to immediately track and collect information, data, and documents needed for workflow management.  This also leads to great difficulties in being able to exchange and share such documentation.

Also, as mentioned earlier, within the same company there may be several departments using different systems to collect information and data of the same nature. This leads to an increase in workload and a reduction in enterprise efficiency.

What’s more, despite companies’ increasing investment in technology and training of their resources, it is not always possible to find the right solution that meets and responds to all business needs.

In this context, Bsamply acts as a HUB to connect all key players in the fashion industry, facilitating both the ordering process, from raw material to finished garment, and the end-to-end data sharing of a large part of the supply chain. The Bsamply HUB can integrate with various existing PLM systems and ERP solutions.

Digitalization of the supply chain

Within Bsamply we have additionally implemented two main tools:

  • The Portal, is a tool used by brands to manage and work with their supply chain.
  • The Community Network, consisting of multiple communities created by the brands themselves, trade fairs, associations, and textile districts so that suppliers can send information, seek new customers, and sell or show their collections within a dedicated showroom space.

Through the Portal solution, Bsamply users can collect information regarding administration and sustainability from their suppliers, enabling them to map and track the entire supply chain. By using a centralized system for suppliers, this information can be shared with different departments afferent to the brand, such as the compliance and sustainability department, the purchasing department, and the administration office. Each department will be able to check this data and use it for analysis and reporting.

The decision to keep the document collection system separate from the tool that enables its reprocessing is essential to provide the brand with the necessary flexibility in case it wants to change its analysis and calculation tools in the future. In this way, the document collection system already in use by providers would remain stable, avoiding the need to start from scratch.

The Bsamply team supports all users during the onboarding and training phase, paying special attention to suppliers, who are the key players from which the entire document collection process starts.

The entire software is designed with an intuitive and user-friendly interface, designed to be easy to use even by those who are not very familiar with this type of technology.  The main goal of Bsamply is to create a standard, shared process for brands and their suppliers, offering a single digital form for collecting all data, certifications, and documents related to an item’s passive cycle, thus lightening the workload for vendors while improving brand efficiency and traceability.

In conclusion, digitalization along the entire supply chain is a key transition that fashion brands have begun to implement, including assisting their suppliers along the supply chain. Technology plays a significant role in making this process simpler, more intuitive, and providing the flexibility to comply with new and evolving regulations.

Through systems such as Bsamply, all players are given the freedom to innovate and implement new technologies according to new business and legislative needs. Providing a shared supply chain mapping and data-sharing system reduces the workload for suppliers and improves collaboration across departments from supply management to production.