Kornit Digital regional manager Ashley Playford-Browne discusses shaking up the supply chain.
This is the second in a series of articles I’m writing on behalf of Kornit Digital, if you read the first article ‘Fast and sustainable fashion?’ I spoke about the environmental issues we face in our industry.
Now I’d like to open up that conversation and explore the benefits of changing our supply chain.
I believe the supply chain can be re-imagined, there is a real opportunity to optimise the supply chain to be aligned with today’s market demands.
By changing the supply chain this will lead to; reduced carbon footprint, more agility in our product offerings, reduced risk of oversupply and better cash flow.
A great example of an industry that has revolutionised the supply chain and embraced digital printing is the book publishing market.
A few years back the physical book market was struggling to compete with the agility of e-books.
Yet they overcame this hurdle by embracing digital printing technology, this technology allows them to manufacture just-in-time rather than the traditional analogue model which is based around volume to secure cheap pricing.
Today you could argue there is a greater selection of physical books in retails stores, why? Because digital provides them with the agility to offer a wide range of SKUs with minimal risk.
So how does this relate to the textile industry? I believe we are currently going through a similar evolution; e-commerce is booming, it seems most retailers are struggling to compete with the agile business model e-commerce offers, and there is a lot of oversupply in the market which is leading to margin crippling sale offers.
Digital print technology has been developed to streamline the supply chain, the technology is divided into two categories; Direct to Garment (DTG) which is decorating finished product, and Direct to Fabric (DTF) which is decorating fabric prior to the sewing stage.
Both these technologies have no minimum order qty as there is no setup time involved and they are fully sustainably solutions built around waterless technology for just-in-time manufacturing.
DTG technology allows you to procure your blank ready-made garments in bulk without any specific designs applied.
You then look at the current market trends and locally print whatever design will sell and ship to store (just in time).
This provides you with the flexibility to keep up with the latest trends without having the risk of over supplying the market, if a store is selling out of a popular SKU you simply print more and dispatch.
Because the decoration is being produced locally, turnaround times are not an issue. There is a network of local apparel fulfillers who specialise in this just-in-time manufacturing process.
This business model also has the added benefit of reducing the need for warehousing as they generally store your blanks and ship direct to store.
Alternatively, you could decorate the product at your existing distribution centre but rather than pick and pack, you simply add an additional step so it becomes pick, print & pack.
DTF technology is allowing the fashion industry to utilise the micro factory whereby you simply hold the blank unprinted textile in your inventory, when an order is generated you print the design and cut the fabric in one seamless process (no steaming or washing is required), next you sew the goods and ship.
Traditionally one of the big challenges with this technology was the fabric’s hand-feel, however recent developments with inline softeners have removed this barrier and you would struggle to tell the difference between a sustainable waterless prints vs traditional analogue print.
We are now seeing big producers in Europe and America adopting this technology. It also has the added benefit of being able to produce tailored clothes to the consumers exact measurements, something that could provide a great value add boost vs traditional ‘off the shelf’ sizing.
Realistically if we look at the pricing model it will never be as cheap to manufacture garments in Australia vs overseas however when you look at the full supply chain and include the mark down costs and the additional freight incurred when product does not sell.
I dare say we’d come close and we have the added benefit of minimal inventory risk, better cash flow and are a truly sustainable process.
I’m a proud employee of Kornit Digital and it’s our vision to re-imagine the textile industry for the future, one that has no waste, no pollution and more profitability.
Our aim is to turn the traditional supply and demand business model on its head and make the supply chain of the future based around demand and supply.
If you would like to find out more information about Kornit Digital and our solutions, please contact us via the below links: