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Stay Ahead of the Fashion Curve: Strategies to Speed Time to Market


The universal concept that ‘time is everything’, especially applies to the fashion industry.  

For many years, customers have shown an insatiable demand for the new and now. If there’s one thing that should go out of style and never come back, it’s the inability of fashion brands and retailers to respond and meet the market’s demands on time.  

To get ahead of the competition, merely providing customers with the latest styles when they want them isn’t just going to cut it. Fashion brands and retailers must see past temporary fixes, dive to the root and utilize the appropriate digital solutions. Hence, addressing speed to market as a top priority to ultimately cut overhead and reduce lead times.  

It’s often asked if faster is always better, but the real question is how to effectively and efficiently speed up time to market. The following four initiatives can help fashion brands and retailers capitalize on this opportunity, enabling them to adapt their strategies and meet the demands of their market. 

Review your Sampling Process

The process of producing samples can be costly and time-consuming due to various factors such as labor costs for sample makers, high freight fees, environmental impact, transport and logistics. Additionally, the time and effort required for communication, prototyping, revisions, and the risk of the samples becoming obsolete before reaching the customer results in wasted resources and missed opportunities for cost savings and increased sales. 

To avoid bottlenecks in sampling requests, high sampling costs, and long wait times for physical prototypes, fashion brands and retailers should adopt virtual sampling with 3D features to optimize the sampling process. 

Identify Communication Gaps

Effective communication is critical for building and maintaining healthy relationships with your vendors and contractors. The fast-paced nature of the fashion industry, with its constant influx of styles and channels, can make it challenging to communicate with a large number of people and keep track of important details. 

If you’re frequently overwhelmed by the number of emails in your inbox or limited by distance when unable to visit suppliers overseas, it’s a sign that you may be lagging behind. Look into digital solutions such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) to streamline communication internally and externally and provides real-time product development data for both the client and vendor.  

Make your Data Reliable

There are a lot of data involved in creating a product from costing, to bill of materials and sizing, among others. Without proper tools and processes in place, it’s difficult to achieve the accuracy and accessibility needed in order to effectively utilize the data.  

Do you find yourself struggling to find the correct product details when you need them? Do you have difficulties sharing and exchanging business information on time? Have you ever made a costly mistake because you didn’t have access to accurate real-time information? If you answer yes to any of these questions, it’s a clear indication that it’s time to address what’s blocking your speed to market and impacting your margins.  

Automate Manual Processes

Managing a large volume of product data can make the development process more complex and multi-faceted. This leaves more room for errors especially when you switch from spreadsheet to spreadsheet through manual documentation. An effective way to eliminate such errors and delays is through digitalization. This approach improves visibility and increases transparency in product portfolio management.  

If you often deal with a chaotic supply chain that negatively affects information flows and causes missed deadlines, then that’s a sure sign to pick up the pace to decrease lead times and deliver on the shifting needs and desires of your market.  

To survive in the fast-paced world of fashion and stay ahead of the competition, fashion brands and retailers must prioritize speed to market. One effective way to achieve this is by utilizing digital solutions such as PLM to streamline processes and improve communication with vendors and contractors.