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The influence of e-commerce on garment retailing is tremendous
Navdeep Singh Sodhi, a partner with Gherzi Textil Organisation, Switzerland, shares his view on the vital changes and challenges of textile as well as apparel industry worldwide with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Ilin Mathew.
Gherzi is a leading industrial consulting company founded in Zurich in 1929. With its global presence the company offers integrated and independent services to the textile and garment industry in the fields of strategic management, international benchmarking, engineering, technical textiles, logistics and finance. Gherzi has over 50 years of presence in India which was recently strengthened through its subsidiary Gherzi Consulting Engineers Pvt Ltd.
Navdeep Singh Sodhi is an MBA and a textile industry economist with 30 years of international experience. His expertise includes strategy, technology and international trade and investment. He consults for international development institutions and the corporate textile industry organizations worldwide.
What are the most important things needed in today's competitive world for success of any textile and apparel company. Why?
Quick response: Brands and distributors want to react to contemporary market movements (negative or positive). So, they need vendors capable of rapidly adapting themselves to dynamics of the marketplace.
Flexibility: Vendors need to be organised in order to be able to deal with "asking for the moon" type of customers with regards to small or large quantities, co-contracting or sub-contracting, basics or fast fashion, etc. As a vendor, you should be able to respond to many different, and often, 'unreasonable' requests. You cannot build your business on a pre-defined and fixed relationship with your customers which is constantly evolving.
Transparency: Brands and distributors will tend to impose more and more rules regarding the way their vendors operate; not only social rules but environmental, etc.
For primary textile value chain which is highly capital intensive, the companies have to be globally competitive in terms of quality and cost. For management, the modern textile industry requires a fine blend of entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.
What are the challenges you have envisaged in the clothing sector? How do you think the industry can rectify it?
The clothing industry faces five major challenges:
Complex supply chain: Rationalizing supplier & manufacturer base
Competitive intensity: Customer acquisition/expand customer base International expansion
Fast fashion: Reducing lead times for new products/increasing supply chain agility
Transparency: Increasing supply chain visibility of product status/Introduction of RFID
Cost competitiveness: Reducing product cost to improve margin
With China becoming a high -income economy with a shrinking labour pool, large clothing buyers face an uphill task to develop other suppliers however this is not going to be easy. Countries such as India with an integrated textile value chain have not been able to achieve forward integration in apparel production due to several macro and micro constraints.
Today, the Higg Index developed by San Francisco based Sustainable Apparel Coalition is being used by hundreds of textile and footwear manufacturers, brands, retailers and other stakeholders. The latest version of the Higg Index 2.0 launched in 2013 is a tool to help organisations standardize how they measure and evaluate environmental performance of apparel products across the supply chain at three levels viz brand, product and facility level. India's Arvind has now adopted the Higg Index as a commitment to environmental sustainability in its textile business practice.
American consumers prefer products that are 'Made in USA' over those made abroad, especially in China, for reasons including patriotism and product safety. Do you agree? Can you elaborate on that a bit?
This is not true. American consumers do not care about the origin of their apparels. The US remains the largest single importer of clothing in the world. This issue comes up only during big events like Olympic Games when consumers understand that the country depends on foreign countries for apparel. What else is the alternative?
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