Why digitisation is key to growth for apparel

April 8, 2021

The last year has further emphasised the importance of digitisation in the apparel industry. Brands, retailers, and manufacturers are all looking to leverage digital tools to enhance their businesses. 

On April 13, Vivek Ramachandran, CEO of Serai, and Stanley Szeto, Executive Chairman of Lever Style, joined the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA)’s webinar to discuss how a strong digital presence can help apparel brands expand globally. Check out the full video and highlights below!

Vivek Ramachandran discussed a few key reasons why digitisation is crucial for growth in the apparel industry. 

  1. The industry currently has very low digital adoption and would see tremendous improvements in efficiency with digital solutions put in place. 
  2. The changes to travel due to COVID-19 will not go back to business as usual. Digital solutions will remove the need for certain unnecessary travel. 
  3. The changing mix of products will be here to stay. Not only regarding changes in product type, but also lower order size and consumer demands for higher speed to market. 
  4. The element of trust in the supply chain has been shaken. With delayed payments and cancelled orders, relationships may need to be rebuilt
  5. Business models must change. Good products at a good price is no longer enough; companies must adopt more design-led business models or include differentiating offerings to stay competitive. 

Even pre-COVID, Lever Style’s business model has favoured digitally native brands. They have around 120 customers, many of whom are the underserved smaller brands that do not get the same attention from other manufacturers. After COVID, businesses have learned that these digitally native brands are the future. 

The benefit of these new brands is that many of them don’t yet have legacy systems. It eliminates the need for APIs to merge systems, and these companies can be introduced to the supplier’s existing system. 

On the other hand, there is still a benefit to digitisation for larger brands. Stanley Szeto explained that with every order (no matter how small or large), there is still design, costing, shipping, invoices, and other factors required.

Digitisation helps reduce data inputs to make the profit margin more realistic when working with various sized orders. 

“Digitisation is a journey. It’s not going to happen in just the next year or two. Focus on what you can get done now, and that will bring you results.” - Vivek Ramachandran

Check out our other related content:

Q&A with Stanley Szeto: The Future of Apparel Sourcing and Manufacturing

Fireside Chat: Navigating the apparel value chain with information technology

Key Insights: The Future of Apparel Sourcing and Manufacturing