5-step digital transformation strategy for garment & textile manufacturers

April 5, 2024 . 5 read
  • Introduction

    Did you know that nearly three-quarters (74%) of IT leaders report their companies are now prioritizing digital transformation? This significant shift, up from 56% in 2021, illustrates the critical value of digital transformation in our current business environment, placing it as high as cybersecurity (at 73%) in the priority list.  

    The move towards digital modernization is reflective of the changing dynamics in various sectors including the garment and textile industry. With the industry experiencing growth rates ranging from a modest 1 to 3 percent in Europe to a more robust 4 to 6 percent in China (The State of Fashion 2024), the imperative for strategic agility and adaptiveness has never been more pronounced. 

    This makes having the right digital transformation strategy all the more important. To that end, we’ve developed a 5-point SOCOI framework that can help you get started. In the following sections of this blog, we will dive into each element of the framework – See, Operate, Communicate, Optimize, and Improve – and explore how they can collectively and successively streamline your journey towards digital dominance.

  • Steps Manufacturing Businesses Should Follow for Digital Transformation

    1. SEE: Closing Data Gaps for Better Process Visibility 

    At the heart of digital transformation is the use of data to drive decisions. For garment and textile manufacturers, this means integrating data from various stages of the manufacturing process to get a comprehensive view of your entire operation. Digitizing and connecting all your data, processes, factories on one centralized platform is the foremost step in the process—and it’s the most important. 

    Take Matrix Clothing, for example. Their pursuit of real-time production data, focusing on metrics like hourly output and Quality DHUs (Defect per Hundred Units), led them to WFX MES (Manufacturing Execution System). They shifted from a standalone system to WFX’s integrated solution. This move eliminated redundant data entry and provided features like line-wise dashboard visualization and tablet-based real-time data capture.  

    Matrix is now able to respond more quickly to quality issues through automated alerts, eliminate manual records, improve scheduling accuracy, and more. This tangible example illustrates the potential of integrated data to transform operational efficiency.  

    2. OPERATE: Using Industry-Specific Cloud ERP to Ease Adoption  

    Let’s face it, the leap into digital transformation can often feel like scaling a mountain, especially when it comes to software adoption. The key to conquering this peak lies in partnering with technology experts who don’t just offer solutions but understand the unique challenges and needs of the garment and textile industry. Choosing a partner with a modern approach to problem-solving, who fits the scale of your business, is not just a choice but a necessity. This is where industry-specific Cloud ERP systems such as WFX ERP come into play. 

    Such systems are tailored for the unique needs of garment and textile manufacturers, ensuring a smoother transition and higher adoption rates. They bridge the gap between traditional methods and digital ambitions, making the journey towards digital transformation less about the leap and more about the step-by-step progression. 

    3. COMMUNICATE: Enhancing Trading Partner Relationships 

    Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, and this holds true in the business world too. In the garment and textile industry, where trading partnerships can be complex and multi-layered, clear and consistent communication is vital. Just think about the chargebacks and misunderstandings that are often a result of confusing email threads!  

    Implementing digital communication tools not only improves transparency with trading partners but also enhances internal team collaboration. Technologies such as EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), real-time inventory tracking, and collaborative platforms are invaluable. They ensure all stakeholders, both within and outside your organization, are on the same page, and have a clear view of the supply chain. This reduces misunderstandings, and ultimately improves partnership efficacy.  

    4. OPTIMIZE: Improving Forecasting and Inventory Control  

    The mantra for modern businesses is ‘optimize or go obsolete‘. The mantra for modern businesses is ‘optimize or go obsolete’. To make excess stock and shortage crises a tale of the past, garment and textile manufacturers must focus on optimizing forecasting and inventory control. Leveraging digital tools like AI-driven forecasting models transforms inventory management. 

    These tools provide real-time data, enabling dynamic decision-making. For example, by using AI to analyze historical sales data, a fashion retailer can predict future trends with greater accuracy, reducing the risk of overproduction and aligning inventory with market demand. This not only streamlines operations and ensures timely product availability but also reinforces sustainable manufacturing practices by minimizing waste.  

    5. IMPROVE: Automating Manual Workflows to Mitigate Errors & Delays  

    Time and accuracy are of the essence for any business, but especially so in fashion, where speed to market is key for business success. Manual processes, like creating Bills of Material (BOM), calculating recipes and formulas, and tracking product components, are ripe for automation. Why? Because every minute spent on these tasks is a minute not spent on innovation and strategy.  

    Automation in these areas does more than just save time; it significantly reduces the scope for errors and delays. It can help create a workflow where data flows seamlessly, where estimates are precise and reliable, and where production processes are a well-oiled machine. This is the power of automation in the garment and textile manufacturing industry.  

  • Why Follow a Digital Transformation Strategy Framework

    Whether it is Goodhue and Thompson’s Task-Technology Fit (TTF) theory, McKinsey’s 4Ds, Kanban boards or our framework, a well-defined digital transformation strategy will help you achieve your operational efficiency goals, get rid of information silos, and give your business a competitive edge. A good strategy is also technology-agnostic, which means that it can help you leverage any right-fit digital tool/technology to upgrade your business.   

    The SOCOI framework, discussed above, acts as a pillar with each successive element supporting a comprehensive approach towards creating a more agile, responsive, and efficient operation. By following a structured path, you can shape any new and existing digital innovations to fit your unique business needs and goals.  

    Beyond digitalization, the ultimate goal of a digital transformation practice is building up an autonomous digital ecosystem that continuously improves itself. When you reach this advanced stage, the system could and should become self-regulating, adapting and responding in real-time to operational variables, such as market changes, production challenges, and customer needs.  

    Achieving this level of autonomy requires a strategic blend of advanced AI, machine learning, and real-time data analytics. The journey there is incremental, but the destination promises a transformative impact on business.  

  • Conclusion

    Digital transformation in fashion manufacturing is a journey towards not just technological adoption but a complete paradigm shift in how business is conducted. Our 5-point SOCOI framework provides a comprehensive approach to embracing this digital era.  

    As your digital transformation partner, WFX is here to guide you through every step of this journey, helping you leverage technology to create a more agile, sustainable, and competitive business. Contact us today to begin crafting your personalized digital transformation strategy.  

    Want to speak to our team? Join WFX at SaigonTex in Vietnam from April 10 to 13, where you can explore tailored solutions for your business needs. Find us at booth L2-22 and let’s discuss how we can shape your digital transformation journey. Book your appointment now and embark on a path to digital mastery with WFX.  

Vishakha Somaniauthor linkedin
Assistant Manager

Vishakha Somani is a Fashion Tech Analyst and Communications expert at WFX - World Fashion Exchange. She is a Fashion graduate from Polimi Italy, and has been actively reporting on the fashion industry since 2016. She's an expert in analyzing trends, market shifts and new technologies. Her work spans forecasting and research on the global luxury and retail supply chain, emerging markets, and the circular economy.

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