The past year has been quite a ride for material sourcing. The industry has faced a unique set of challenges – largely due to the ongoing pandemic – and has had to adjust and evolve to continue operating.
All the while, the material sourcing industry is experiencing a revolution of sorts: digitization. As travel restrictions have continued over the past year, industry players have turned to online alternatives to share/find materials. In doing so, brands are seeking accurate visual representations of the materials they need to help determine a material’s quality. As Material Exchange’s digital sourcing survey from last spring showed, 47% of brands use 3D software in their material sourcing, but only 10% of suppliers show 3D visuals of their products.
Another takeaway from our digital sourcing survey was the high price tag on material swatches. 49% of suppliers and 45% of brands spend more than €10,000 on physical samples every year. What’s more, although meeting suppliers at trade shows ranked highly for brands, their preferred means of sourcing is direct. Both of these factors among others are heavily influencing the industry shift toward digital.
The Future of Fashion
The uncertain turbulence of the last couple of years is starting to level out; although challenges still abound, the industry outlook is brighter than it was even just 6 months ago. According to McKinsey & Company’s The State of Fashion 2022 report, “Overall, global fashion sales are on track to pick up momentum in 2022, as increasingly hopeful consumers unleash pent-up buying power…”. And where does this report forecast the biggest opportunities for growth will come from? Digitization and sustainability.
As we found in our sourcing survey, 78% of brands often ask for sustainable options when it comes to materials (and 98% of suppliers can provide them!), so the concept is certainly top of mind. Digitization is the first step toward meeting – and showcasing – the sustainability standards that are in such high demand.
Whether sustainability and digitization are seen as opportunities or challenges, the need for both is clear. Digitization moves inefficient analog processes online, syncing internal teams and facilitating connection with a much larger audience externally. It also offers a chance to broaden reach beyond any geographic limitations, opening capacities beyond just one region to a global network. This is especially important amidst the ongoing supply chain issues created by the pandemic; having access to multiple options is key to staying agile in this ever-changing industry.
Digitization Made Easy
In an industry with so many players located around the world, it can be difficult to know where materials come from, and what processes were used to create them. Transparency within the supply chain is critical to providing a clear understanding of a given material’s environmental impact. By utilizing documentation and detailed attribute data, digitization makes this demand for transparency not only achievable but also easy to do across any number of materials. High-quality visuals of the materials – especially 3D scans – can also help immensely in presenting the information necessary to make purchase decisions.
Perhaps you’ve already started your business’ digitization journey? If so, congratulations! If you’re not there yet, the time is now – and here at Material Exchange, we’ve got the support (and the platform) you need to make it happen. We’re proud to offer a global, one-stop Marketplace that’s simplifying the material sourcing process for brands and suppliers alike. Digitization is no longer a question of if, but rather when; the sooner you make the transition, the faster you’ll get your business to where it needs to be.
However you decide to approach the coming year, we hope you’ll take steps toward a digital transformation for your business. Everyone can and should have a digital presence, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Feel free to reach out to schedule a demo with us, or you can sign up here. Good luck on your digitization journey – and beyond!