Interview with Ed Gribbin

Ed Gribbin
Ed Gribbin

Production increasingly going back to places where product is sold
Alvanon, the US fitting solutions provider, has a key role to play in the ongoing Texprocess Americas fair. Ed Gribbin, president of Alvanon discusses with Fibre2Fashion.com his participation in the fair through the means of a symposium and the various solutions he proposes to the textiles industry.

What is Alvanon displaying at Texprocess Americas?

Senior consultants from Alvanon are available to field questions and discuss latest industry innovation ideas – from design to manufacturing, from marketing to point-of-sale and customer satisfaction post-sale. At the show, the Alvanon team will also be prepared to discuss potential solutions to eliminate product development and retail process inefficiencies.

With so much of focus on data analytics, can you share some examples of data analytics actually enhancing productivity in the global textiles industry?

We are in a new age of instant information, enhanced or enabled by digital technologies. While the industry has been remarkably slow at adopting many of these technologies, consumers have embraced them. Consumers are being able to shop when, where and how they want and determine how to get the best deal instantly. This has put tremendous pressure on brands and retailers to respond, or lose their share or relevance. Some of the key technologies, enabling the industry to respond to such newly empowered consumers, are Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID), 3D virtual product development tools and merchandising analytics tools. PLM software enhances productivity by ensuring that many stakeholders involved in product creation - from designers to merchants, buyers, tech designers, sourcing teams, vendors and factories - all have transparent access to the same up-to-the-minute, accurate information in real time. RFID enables retailers to view and manage inventories in stores, distribution centres, in transit or in production in order to provide their customers with seamless omni-channel experiences. 3D virtual product development technologies allow designers, merchants, buyers and technical teams to move through processes that typically took a year or more earlier in weeks now. It may not be the case today. But before long, if these technologies were used properly and with decisiveness, whole product lines could be created without ever producing a physical sample. This could have saved massive costs and also meet consumer demand more quickly. Merchandising analytics' tools, thanks to clever algorithms and cloud computing, enables retailers to maximise sell-throughs and margins. It also helps build competitive advantage by giving them real-time visibility, not only to their own business but to all their competitors' prices, promotions markdowns and stock-outs. This type of data enables brands and retailers to produce more of what they know will sell, and less of what's likely to get marked down. It will not only enhance productivity, but also bottom-line profitability.

What technologies can help increase productivity with lower costs and faster outputs in developing countries?

Even in developing countries, the production base for apparel and footwear, innovation is taking root, from the obvious like new generations of automated cutting and seam-bonding technologies to the less obvious like connectivity to retail inventories, for the purpose of auto-replenishment of hot-selling styles.

What technologies can ensure low cost production in the US textiles industry?

Closer to home, re-shoring is going slowly. But it’s going (or coming) as new technologies enable more efficient cutting, sewing, assembly and finishing of both apparel and footwear. There may be higher labour rates in the US than in most other countries. But factory automation, including robotics – used extensively in automobile and electronics production, means fewer people can produce more products. Add to that, the time factor, where replenishment can happen in days because of proximity between factory and the customer, and it is clear that an increasing percentage of production will go back to places where the product is sold. Speeding to market is the mantra of every retailer and brand today, primarily to enhance customer engagement. And when you have one-day shipment from factory to store, it beats two months on a boat any day.
Published on: 05/05/2016

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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