Following on from our recent webinar focusing on the Bangladesh apparel industry, we interviewed panelists, Kanaiya Parekh (Expert Partner, Bain & co.), Dr. Rubana Huq (President, BGMEA) and Vivek Ramachandran (CEO, Serai) to answer some of your burning questions. Check out the insightful responses below!
Until there is a vaccine, we don't expect consumer confidence levels to rebound to pre-COVID levels for another 24-36 months. During this period, what we see from a consumer trend point of view is five key trends.
Manufacturers need to be proactive rather than reactive. The winning ones are those who don’t need to be asked but they go and do the right thing. That kind of pivots around four things.
There are four questions manufacturers must ask to ensure retailers are changing in line with consumer trends.
Dr. Rubana Huq:
I would like to think that the Bangladesh RMG industry would graduate into a more value-added industry. We are placing ample focus on value addition, reskilling the workforce, and sustainability. Not only environmentally, but also for the business environment to be more sustainable and feasible.
For digital upscaling, we must begin with e-payments that can cover workers. We need to synchronise with the Interoperable Digital Platform for transactions that the government is launching. Not only will workers receive the payments electronically, but they will be able to transfer, get loans, buy commodities - all digitally.
In terms of reskilling, we must train our workers in different sectors. Right now, 8% of our tasks are automated, and by 2025, we will be hitting 25%.There will be some worker displacement, and we have to think about where we absorb them, and how we do it.
We have an initiative called the “Asian University for Women” which educates our RMG garment workers by taking them into universities. Literacy should be promoted and encouraged so that we use our workforce for better jobs. There's no alternative to literacy in order to reskill the workers.
Productivity must also increase. The national productivity average is only 50%, so we need to really consolidate our ways of efficiency, that's our call of the time.
The days of 50,000 MOQ orders are over. This is because consumers are more prone to custom made orders. Every shopper now has a separate demand. The expectation of having larger runs is going to be invalid in no time. Shorter times are encouraged, but with more value addition. Boutique orders can and should be appreciated, especially for small and medium industries. The large ones should also look to value addition, and that does not come with quantity.
Serai’s purpose is to help companies build trusted relationships with new partners. There are three key factors that I believe help us do this and differentiate us from the competition:
First of all, I would like to applaud the efforts of Bangladesh in improving both its product knowledge and sustainable practices in recent years. That being said, however, I believe for Bangladeshi manufacturers to get the right price they need to go even further. They have to take a step ahead and not wait to be led by buyers. As Mahbub mentioned during the webinar, a B2C mindset and putting themselves in the shoes of their customers is key here. They need to continue adding to their value-added services and become better at promoting the fact that they now cater to high mix low quantity orders.
But how do they achieve this? My advice is simple: build your digital presence. Hire digital marketing experts. Use the digital tools that are out there, such as Serai, to help you find new business opportunities. The time to act is now. Don’t let the opportunity go to waste.
Serai exists to help businesses in the apparel industry build new relationships online. You can showcase your products and services, demonstrate your expertise and expand your network globally. All you need is to be a registered business to join our trusted community.
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