6 Ways On-demand Manufacturing Transforms The Retail Space
Traditional textile manufacturing involves a long and expensive process of transforming raw fibers into useable rolls of fabric that can be freely utilized to create new clothes and other fashion merchandise. However, the rapid changes in consumer trends render this manufacturing process impractical, inflexible, and inaccessible to an increasing number of retailers, especially smaller companies and individuals who heavily rely on online selling.
The introduction of on-demand textile manufacturing has helped retailers, as well as manufacturers, overcome the hurdles of traditional textile processing. This kind of system has made the textile industry more competitive and adaptive to today’s consumer needs.
What is On-demand Manufacturing?
The traditional textile manufacturing process range from yarn making to garment stitching, and other value-adding procedures like composite fabric embossing and composite production. Fiber production, yarn spinning, fabric processing, treatment, dyeing, and printing will take weeks to months to complete. This doesn’t even include the packaging and shipping schedules which add several weeks of waiting before the finished products are delivered to buyers.
On-demand manufacturing is a business model that enables suppliers to rapidly respond to client requests through the combination of mechanical, manual, and digital solutions. The result is a streamlined textile supply chain that eliminates large order requirements and overproduction.
On-demand manufacturing is highly advantageous for retailers and small businesses in the e-commerce space because it gives them the flexibility to order items in smaller batches. Clothing on-demand also removes the need to have a warehouse for inventory storage, since supplies are purchased only as they’re needed.
Amazon has adopted an on-demand manufacturing system consisting of textile printers, cameras, and cutters for quickly producing customized clothing. To further improve the efficiency of their clothing on-demand structure, orders are processed in batches according to the customers’ shipping area.
How Fabric On-demand Boosts the Retail Sector
A business as gigantic as Amazon has shifted to a fabric on-demand structure, so there must be something very effective in the process for a multi-billion company to invest in. Here are the advantages that on-demand manufacturing can provide not only to retailers but also to manufacturers in the textile industry:
1) No need for a large inventory
The traditional manufacturing process is designed for large-scale businesses that order tons of fabric for creating garments. Usually, there’s a minimum order quantity (MOQ) suppliers require for shipping and purchasing less than the specified number can result in penalties.
There’s also the long lead time for delivery, especially if the supplier is located overseas. It may take months for the shipment to arrive and only then will the selling of garments can be started.
It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to over-produce rolls of fabric and for buyers to purchase more than they can sell. The excess stock eats up inventory space, and both parties are forced to sell the items at a great discount just to get rid of them. If no one wants to buy the extra supplies, there’s no other choice but to prepare them for disposal.
An on-demand manufacturing process won’t have to go through the trouble of overproduction and excess inventory. Garment mills with a fabric on-demand system don’t even need to have a warehouse because they’ll only produce by request from clients.
Existing fabric mills that have converted to an on-demand manufacturing framework now offer warehousing service to client orders. This helps retailers eliminate the hassle of inventory management and makes their shipping services faster.
Frontier let you manage your physical samples, inventory and digital samples seamlessly . Swatches of each fabric sold by suppliers worldwide are made accessible on the platform, and they can be saved in the respective personal libraries of buyers.
2) Faster turnover
The traditional garment manufacturing process has a lead time of several months, especially if the supplier is based overseas. More complicated patterns often take longer to produce, and different fabric types contribute to the length of the production timeline. Since old garment mills are designed to process bulk orders, it can be a challenge to get a product out within days or weeks.
While the turnaround rate also depends on the facility’s capability and the kind of fabric ordered, on-demand manufacturing can cut lead times to days instead of weeks. Garment mills become more flexible in dealing with buyers, regardless of the size of the order.
Modern on-demand manufacturing sites utilize online tools to provide instant quotes and quick cost modeling to clients. Tracking the status of the project also promotes transparency and allows rapid feedback communication.
For retailers, a faster turnover means quicker selling schedules that lead to better cash flow management. They won’t have to worry about oversupply either since they’ll only buy what they need from garment factories.
3) More sustainable processes
Environmental activists condemn traditional textile manufacturing for the tons of waste byproduct they contribute annually. There’s also the disposal of excess inventory that no one wants to purchase, further adding to the waste pile.
On-demand manufacturing eliminates excess production since fabrics will only be processed as ordered. Production wastes will be drastically reduced and the need to dispose of surplus textile will be eliminated.
4) Better adaptivity to trends
Testing the waters isn’t possible in the traditional manufacturing process because of huge MOQs. Retailers are taking a huge risk with every order they make, so they must make sure they have a market that will make their investment profitable.
Fashion trends change quickly, and the slow turnover of the classic textile manufacturing system won’t be able to keep up. It can be a make-or-break scenario that not all businesses can survive.
Following a clothing on-demand structure enables retailers to test the market while being practical. Without a high MOQ, they can procure a small batch of fabric and gauge whether the market will pay attention to their merchandise.
Online sellers benefit the most from on-demand manufacturing in terms of trend adaptability. They can post one item at a time and observe how the market will react to the new product. This gives them the flexibility to increase or decrease production according to consumer interest.
5) No need for markdowns
A markdown is the last option of manufacturers and retailers to get rid of excess stock without completely losing their capital. This usually happens when certain designs become out of trend, or when retailers purchased more than needed in anticipation of massive demand.
By eliminating overproduction, manufacturers won’t have to worry about marking down stale inventory and lose profits in the process. The same goes for retailers who do bulk orders of fabric during the selling season. They won’t have to deal with high MOQs and worry about selling clothes nobody wants anymore.
6) More cost-efficient proto sampling
Traditional suppliers will have limited options in providing a proto sample since they can’t produce fabrics in small quantities. Some may offer to prototype but for exorbitant fees that might be impractical for the buyers.
Usually, buyers send a proto sample request to several garment factories. Buyers need to specify all the information they want to see on the product so textile manufacturers can create the garment down to the smallest detail. Prototyping may take several days to more than a week because the factory has to come up with at least four samples to present to buyers.
The traditional process is long and costly that it’s inconvenient and impractical to do. When shipping lead times and production timeframe are factored in, the fad on the fashion style might already be declining before the finished product is made available.
Frontier’s massive database of digital swatches can be integrated with 3D sampling applications for a more practical, organized, and convenient way to make garment prototypes. These 3D samples are faster to process and generate the least amount of waste material since there’s no need to print several versions of clothing until they get approved for mass production.
On-demand manufacturing resolves several problems of traditional textile processing like overproduction, lengthy lead times, and inflexibility to provide proto samples. The practicality and adaptiveness of the system benefit not only manufacturers but also retailers, especially small businesses that depend on e-commerce platforms to sell their merchandise.
Frontier’s online platform further improves on-demand manufacturing architectures by providing access to a large digitized library of fabric swatches offered by manufacturers worldwide. The digital fabric can be used for faster proto sampling which drastically reduces lead times, resulting in quicker product turnaround times.
Whether you’re a garment manufacturer, a designer, or a retailer, Frontier can help streamline your textile supply chain system. Sign up with us now or schedule a demo to know more about our platform.