Finding the right supplier for your needs

August 18, 2020

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, fashion industry buyers are increasingly looking for greater flexibility among the suppliers they work with. This is giving fresh momentum to the trends around customisation and small-batch manufacturing, as well as increasing the need for a reliable way to discover suppliers with these capabilities.

Customisation and low MOQ

According to a recent Deloitte report, customisable fashion will have a disproportionate impact on the fashion industry claiming 10-30% of market share by 2030. Paired with the fact that overproduction before the pandemic was between 30-40% each season, a growing number of buyers are looking to purchase directly from reliable clothing manufacturers that offer customisation and low minimum order quantities. More and more companies and brands will be in the “go it alone” approach so manufacturers will have to adjust…

For suppliers, this means adopting the kind of technology that supports flexible manufacturing arrangements. One of the most important is 3D sampling and virtual prototyping, given the way the pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and prohibited international travel. Tracking tools and PLM systems that reach across each other for visibility, automative processes and data analytics capabilities are also necessary for suppliers to provide flexible made-to-order production cycles, making smaller batch orders possible for buyers.  

Utilising platforms to connect and build trust

But the big question is where can buyers discover and connect with suppliers that will meet their needs? And how can trust be fostered between them? Digital platforms are stepping in to address these questions, enabling the growth of B2B communities and the formation of trusted business relationships based on mutual interests. They are doing this in three ways:

Aligning on needs and values

Platforms that profile suppliers effectively can help buyers find business partners that meet their needs and with whom they share similar commercial, sustainability and growth goals. Sustainability is a case in point, as the fashion industry is one of the world’s leading polluters and demand is rising for sustainably made and sourced products.

Increasing buyer options

The emergence of B2B platforms is also particularly timely as large manufacturers begin to move away from wholesaling, freeing up buyers to explore working with smaller-scale manufacturers that may offer more flexibility regarding minimum order quantities and product customisation. The key is to ensure these manufacturers have the necessary visibility.

Facilitating referral

In addition, the ability for buyers and suppliers to connect efficiently provides new opportunities for obtaining referrals, which are important for finding the right business partner and strengthening supplier networks. Platforms can help in this process, due to their being outfitted with digital communications tools, as well as containing a directory of members with profiles showcasing their capabilities.

Toward a new way to network

Finding the right supplier is critical in today’s apparel industry. Consumer preferences are evolving, which means buyers are looking for new capabilities in their suppliers. Product customisation and the ability to produce in small batches are two capabilities that are growing in importance. But as suppliers make the necessary changes to accommodate this demand, they also require visibility and the ability to network for new business. Serai aims to facilitate this process by creating a B2B community where buyers and suppliers can connect, build trusted relationships and conduct business efficiently.