The garment manufacturing industry of tomorrow won’t be built with yesterday’s methods. Simple automation has undoubtedly increased the speed of large-scale production, but a focus on efficiency alone will mean that manufacturers cannot keep pace with changing expectations – or satisfy the growing demand for consumer-driven manufacturing.
Only a more responsive, flexible approach to the value chain can really create a consumer-driven approach. Not all manufacturers are moving toward this type of agile system, indeed many do not even plan to as they are so entrenched in their traditional operating models. The need for more responsive supply chains, shorter product improvement cycles, and increased agility to meet changing market needs, requires thoroughly modern production methods with staff operating at a high level of technical ability.
Equally necessary, however, is an overlapping cultural shift toward consumer-centered operations. Rather than relying on standardized mass production, manufacturers must continuously monitor trends in their markets, anticipate the impact on demand, and adapt accordingly. Brands increasingly expect manufacturers to guide them, to a greater or lesser extent, in areas such as design, engineering, and materials. The question is clear; are you a manufacturing partner or just a factory?
Staying responsive to consumer needs
Garment manufacturers in particular are starting to experience the demand from consumers for greater levels of product personalization and individualization. Growing in tandem with this is the demand for product innovations and improvements to be delivered to market ever faster. Manufacturers must respond with flexible manufacturing and supply chain optimization that allows smaller lot sizes and digitalizes the product creation process to shorten lead times.
In order to deliver on these expectations manufacturers must be willing to engage and collaborate with various stakeholders; suppliers, customers, platforms, even competitors. When a consumer need or opportunity is identified, only through strong collaboration between brand and manufacturer can the optimal product be created in the shortest amount of time. This kind of collaboration delivers results; a McKinsey survey in 2020 identified that companies collaborating with supply partners outperform their peers.
To connect the opportunity with the output requires an advanced digital ecosystem. This starts with vertical integration of data and systems, with an ERP system for example, and reaches far into the supply chain including areas from intelligent algorithms to optimize planning and resources, to digital quality control using lasers and other optical technology.
This new world of collaboration and interconnection improves the experience for both customers and end consumers in virtually every way. Yet its success requires a genuine commitment on the part of manufacturers to put the consumer first.
In identifying a consumer-driven manufacturer, brands should look for a partner that:
- Deeply understands their markets and can articulate the opportunities arising for brands
- Can provide input throughout the value chain, including areas such as design, engineering, and materials
- Delivers new products to market quickly, from initial creation to ongoing supply
- Continuously strives to improve production capabilities through innovative methods
- Has a clear roadmap for digitalization throughout their business
- Seeks opportunities to align with customers on strategy to deliver exceptional consumer experiences
All of the above capabilities are enabled by technology, but none of them should be taken for granted. Indeed, garment manufacturers must actively reorient their operational strategy to continuously detect and then satisfy changing market demand.
Hi-Tech fully incorporates each of these advances into its world-class production capabilities. The result is consumer-driven garment manufacturing that delivers all the speed and precision of modern processes, with added expertise and experience from our team.
To learn more about our products and services, contact us today.