Digital Transformation: The Beginning of the Supply Chain Revolution

The world is in the midst of an unprecedented global energy crisis. Following a drop in energy demand from 2019-2020, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, a slow response to demand recovery resulted in a supply-demand imbalance. 

As a result, rationing has been implemented in some countries, with electricity restrictions in China proving particularly problematic in terms of reduced capacity for production for factories. 

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Coupled with unforeseen events, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has limited access to natural gas supplies, and drought, a threat to hydropower generation in many parts of the world, the crisis has affected industry across the board. 

Supply chain management has been no exception, and few industries have felt the effects of a disrupted supply chain as keenly as textiles. A wholesale rethink of supply chain management is required to address this situation and ensure companies are not held hostage to uncontrollable events. 

Agility is a must for the fashion industry, and the means of achieving this lies in digital transformation at all levels of the supply chain management process. 

What is Digital Supply Chain Management?

In an age of volatility, where unpredictable events such as energy crises can wreak havoc with a brand’s manufacturing, logistics, and day-to-day operations, digitization of supply chain management offers a practical solution.

The foundations of this digital transformation are built on predictive analytics. This leverages artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data to greatly accelerate predictive capabilities. Driven by these technological advances, forecasting will soon evolve from a monthly undertaking to one that proceeds daily. 

As Amazon’s patent on “anticipatory shipping” reveals, the technology is now available to make predictive shipping a reality. Based on increasingly precise data, shipments can be placed in the logistics network and directed to a customer region in anticipation of demand.

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Products can then be matched to a customer order and rerouted to a specific customer destination. This inevitably has a huge impact on delivery times, potentially slashing them to a matter of hours in the case of high runners. 

A further boon to supply chain management that is offered by digitization is the vastly improved flexibility that it confers on businesses. Firms will now be able to effect real-time planning, smoothly and seamlessly adapting to any sudden changes in the supply-and-demand environment. 

No longer will planning horizons be hampered by rigid cycles and frozen periods. Once digital transformation has been implemented through AI and the Internet of Things (IoT), machine feedback on all elements of supply chain management will allow for unparalleled levels of dynamism in responding to minor hiccups or even game-changing Black Swan events.  

Finally, the move to digitization will tangibly enhance visibility into the mechanics of the supply chain. Supply chain managers will now be able to monitor customer requirements and supplier performance in real-time, allowing them to guard against all manner of disruptions. 

Greater visibility also permits supply chain management owners and personnel to develop more intricate and intimate relationships with both sets of stakeholders for mutual benefit.  

Digitization and the Fashion Industry

As a sector that has long depended on traditional supply chain management models, the fashion industry is ripe for a digital overhaul. Typically, designers must wait for manufacturers to supply fabric swatches, which can often be an inefficient use of time. 

Furthermore, on the manufacturing side, warehouses and storage facilities are required to store the masses of physical fabric swatches that are to be sent out to designers. It doesn’t take a genius to see that supply chain management in the fashion industry is crying out for wholesale digital transformation.  


Implementing Digitization to Achieve Supply Chain Management 4.0

In order to effectively facilitate the digitization of supply chain management, factors all aspects of brands, manufacturers, and designers into our system. Rather than having businesses adjust their processes to mesh with a restrictive, one-size-fits-all template, we tailor our solutions to ensure maximum flexibility and adaptability for all partners. 

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For example, thanks to our AI-powered technology, manufacturers can upload 4D digital fabric swatches into Frontier’s digital library. At the same time, designers and brands are able to review these swatches or even collaborate with each other as part of an ongoing real-time process. 

Most importantly, by providing an integrated platform for comprehensive digital transformation, helps alleviate the pain points of excess waiting times and unnecessary costs that continue to plague traditional paradigms of supply chain management. These outmoded models will soon become a thing of the past as and like-minded partners assist with the transition to Supply Chain Management 4.0.      

For further information about digital transformation, schedule a call with today.