As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many fashion and apparel companies are looking for new ways to cut costs and adapt to changes in consumer buying habits. Brick and mortar stores have been shuttered for weeks and many companies are stuck with extra inventory while consumers focus more of their resources on essential goods. According to recent data, consumer spending for clothing dropped 50% in March causing many brands to reorganize their businesses and retool sales strategies in response to the crisis.
Many believe consumer buying habits will also be affected long term. With more people shopping online than ever before, experts predict that they “are ‘highly unlikely to revert back’ to mall shopping after experiencing its efficiency, convenience and everyday low-pricing.”
Digitally native brands that rely on the Internet to engage customers are faring better than those that rely on physical stores for sales. That’s why many fashion and home goods brands are exploring ways to diversify sales by adding a Direct to Consumer (DTC) channel. Even prior to the pandemic, many big brands like Nike and Adidas were building a larger online presence to gain more control over their selling landscape. From a future sustainability standpoint, a DTC channel could offer your business a way to boost sales even if physical stores remain closed or consumers don’t return to traditional shopping venues.
Strengthening customer relationships with DTC
A Direct-to-Consumer channel is when a brand establishes a direct relationship with its customers online through its web and/or social media presence. Two of the biggest benefits a DTC channel provides are better product margins and deeper customer insights. When brands don’t have to rely solely on third-party retailers for sales, they can drive customer loyalty. A closer relationship helps your business better understand what customers want from your brand—from product design and experiences to exclusive offers, perks, and discounts. However, starting a DTC channel requires some careful thought and planning.
What you need to know when building or expanding your DTC channel
To build a sustainable supply chain, you need a plan to optimize resource usage at the right time to meet consumer demand. With DTC, you won’t depend on a middleman to sell your goods—but your business will have to pick up the slack. Adding or ramping up your DTC channel will require some additional functions and investments in your business including marketing, sales, customer service, packaging, and fulfillment.
To build a successful DTC channel, follow these best practices to maximize success:
•Know your customers. In the past, your business may have relied on retailers to attract customers and sell goods. When selling directly, it’s critical to understand your customers and what makes them tick “including how they buy, what they buy, and how they differ from your distribution and retail customers.” Your business will need to conduct ongoing market research and be prepared to attract and serve a variety of potential online customer journeys.
•Adapt your infrastructure, automate, and build responsive processes. While an easy-to-browse and –buy website is important, don’t forget about your supply chain processes. To support a great customer experience, you may need to add new customer service functions and personnel and also consider some new technology systems to increase efficiency and visibility, including ERP, Supply Chain Management, and Warehouse Management.
•Attract direct customers through marketing. To be successful, your business must expand its marketing efforts to reach new and existing buyers. Your marketing strategy will inform customers how they can buy direct from you and set expectations. Nurture the customer relationship through content marketing, email, promotional offers, and social media campaigns. For example, Nike developed an app that provides customers the ability to unlock product launches, exclusive content, and in-store perks, increasing direct sales revenue and loyalty.
See how Exenta can help
Exenta solutions embolden the apparel industry to gain deeper customer insights that drive better business decisions and increased profitability. Learn how you can support your DTC sales efforts with the right Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that has pre-built integration to top e-commerce channels including Shopify, Magento, and Amazon.
Fast, easy shipping is also key to DTC success. Find out how vertically integrating your warehouse allows you to benefit from built in FedEx, UPS, and USPS labeling solutions. Through Exenta, you can also leverage drop ship capabilities to accelerate order fulfillment with your ecommerce partners and enjoy seamless management of returns and restocking.
Register for a free software demonstration and see for yourself how Exenta’s ERP solution delivers better insight into day-to-day operations, increases profitability, and boosts efficiency.
In these uncertain times, many companies are looking to cut cost and increase efficiency, and the apparel and home goods industries are no different. The right Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system allows companies to gain better insight into day-to-day operations as well as increase productivity and efficiency. This can lead to better business decisions and increased profitability, which is always important, even more so surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“EXENTA WAS THE BEST OF THE PACK IN TERMS OF VALUE, IMPLEMENTATION, EASE OF USE, AND ABILITY TO HANDLE THE VOLUME OF TRANSACTIONS.”
IAIN SCORGIE, CEO and Founder, MindsInSync
Recently we conducted a case study with our client MindsInSync, a leader in home décor solutions for the kitchen bath and bedroom. CEO and one of three cofounder, Iain Scorige noticed his company was growing too rapidly for it’s outdated business systems. Their accounting and outsourced Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems were not meeting the transaction processing demands of their newest and largest trading partner at the time, Bed Bath & Beyond. The executive team wanted to add more large retailers as customers, so it was time to invest in an ERP system with built-in EDI. MindsInSync selected Exenta ERP-a solution designed by fashion industry insiders for the unique transactional requirements of apparel and soft goods manufacturers.
“IN THIS DAY AND AGE, IF YOU’RE OUT OF SYNC WITH REAL TIME DATA, YOU’RE MAKING BAD DECISIONS. THE WORLD’S MOVING SO FAST. EXENTA WAS THE KEY FOR BEING ABLE TO MAKE QUICKER, SMARTER DECISIONS.”
Overall, Exenta ERP helped the company improve efficiency and accuracy throughout its operations, while lowering workforce costs and reducing chargebacks. Many of those benefits were the direct result of fully automating the EDI process in order to eliminate duplicate data entry and gain real-time data analysis. As the timesaving’s and efficiency of automation kicked into high gear, MindsInSync began to acquire major retail accounts rapidly. In a relatively small time span, they opened new lines of business with many major mass-market retailers. Revenue skyrocketed, yet their streamlined process enabled MindsInSync to handle the rapid growth without expanding the staff.
“EXENTA GAVE US THE CONFIDENCE TO GO AFTER MORE NEW CUSTOMERS, BECAUSE WE DIDN’T HAVE TO HIRE A HUNDRED PEOPLE TO DEAL WITH MORE CUSTOMERS. WE KNEW THE SYSTEM COULD HANDLE IT.”
Thanks to Exenta ERP, the MindsInSync team spends less time bogged down in operational analysis, leaving more time to innovate new products and make strategic moves. You can read more on MindsInSync’s successful implementation of Exenta ERP in their case study linked below. Can your company afford more time with the wrong ERP?
Click here to read the full case study, including specific data on reductions in chargebacks, overhead and transaction processing costs.
Popular workwear manufacturer and Exenta Shopfloor Control client, Carhartt, has pivoted operations in their facilities to provide medical gowns and masks to America’s brave men and women at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent press release, Mark Valade, CEO of Carhartt says, “Serving and answering the call during times of need has always been an integral part of Carhartt’s history and it’s why consumers have trusted us to have their back for more than 130 years… We are humbled and honored to help all the essential workers serving and protecting us right now.” Exenta shares the same humility in being able to provide such a respected client as Carhartt with an effective Shopfloor Control (SFC) system.
Exenta Shop Floor Control systems provide in-house manufacturing operations with real-time visibility into works in progress (WIP), quality and workforce productivity. This information empowers manufacturers to make decisions that keep productivity high and ensure on-time deliveries. With real-time tracking of manufacturing operations, manufacturers can make changes more quickly to optimize efficiency and quality. Carhartt’s press release states, “Carhartt will begin producing 50,000 medical gowns, and on April 20, the company will begin manufacturing 2.5 million masks. As long as these critical items are in short supply, Carhartt will continue to assist production.”
Thank you, Carhartt, for innovating to protect our global community. To learn more about how to participate in PPE manufacturing visit Stop the Spread.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of watching the U.S.N.S Comfort arrive in New York Harbor. It was an equally sad and uplifting moment for me as an American, one of many over the past month. Like many of us at moments during this strange time of quarantine, it may have taken some time for the ship itself to be led to its highest and best use. While there were days when the ship seemed to lack for patients, it ultimately was refitted to treat an overflow of COVID-19 patients and provided needed beds for many New Yorkers. Today, the ship is also taking patients from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, providing relief to other overwhelmed hospital systems. In some ways, we’ve all been in the Comfort’s space this past month, ready to be a useful contributor to our businesses, our families, and our community, but in need of an adjustment to the requirements of our new circumstances.
While our global community continues its journey through the pandemic crisis, at Exenta we continue to be impressed by the resilience of our internal teams and by the innovative spirit of our clients. In a timeframe better measured in hours than days, we seamlessly transitioned all our NYC-based employees to remote work without any disruption to production systems or client support. Through the course of normal daily conversations with clients we learned that many were pivoting production to design and manufacture masks and other forms of PPE. The creativity and generosity of the fashion and sewn goods industry in these challenging times is an inspiration to many.
As we all begin to look forward to some gradual return to a new type of normalcy and navigate a way back to the businesses we love, Exenta has curated a selection of resources on topics of relevance to our industry. We will update the resources below on a weekly basis, so check back regularly for more guidance on how our industry will get back to work!
Exanta COVID-19 Resources:
Reshaping Office Space After COVID-19
Federal Guidance on Reopening
Maintaining a Clean Office Environment
Keeping Workers Healthy on the Job
CDC Employer Guidance
SBA Funding Options and General Guidance
SBA Loan Resources
NYS Shared Work Program
CDC Cleaning Guidelines for Reopening your Business
Guidance and Resources for Manufacturing PPE
How to Partner with the Stop the Spread Coalition
PPE Manufacturing Guidelines
FDA Guidance on PPE
International Safety Equipment Association Guidance
Supply Chain During and Post COVID-19
SPESA/SEAMS Join Webinar: COVID-19 Supply Chain Dynamics
What Will the Supply Chain Look Like Post Pandemic
Guidance for Manufacturers
SPESA Resource Center
SPESA Town Hall
Smart Manufacturing After COVID-19
Guidance for Brands
Marketing Tips for Brands in the Pandemic
Five Consumer Trends Expected to Emerge from the Pandemic
The State of Fashion 2020 Coronavirus Update from BofF
At Exenta, we are proud to be part of an industry that is a constant source of inspiration. Across the globe, apparel and sewn goods manufacturers are demonstrating their ability to adapt and innovate in a time of crisis.
Covercraft, Expert in Working with Specialty Fabrics
Exenta’s client Covercraft Industries, a leader in manufacturing Automotive, Marine and Recreational Vehicle protection products, has shifted gears to help fight the Coronavirus Pandemic. President and COO of Covercraft, Clay Callan, stated in a press release, “Covercraft’s expertise in working with non-woven specialty fabrics has allowed us to pivot our operations in the USA from crafting car covers, seat covers, and windshield sunscreens to helping provide hospitals and first responders with personal protective equipment incredibly fast.”
Shopfloor Control MES Supports a Hygienic Manufacturing Process and Increases Productivity
Helping Covercraft navigate this adjustment is Exenta Shopfloor Control (SFC). Our real-time manufacturing solution increases productivity and efficiency, reduces through put time and improves visibility and control. In addition, because Exenta SFC is tablet driven, it helps manufacturers maintain a safer and more hygienic environment for workers. Instead of passing papers or gum sheets down the line, each worker touches their own dedicated tablet to record their work; see photo above for an example of the tablet in use. Exenta system leverages an innovative Android™ app, shown in the image above, management dashboard, and off-the-shelf tablets running on Wi-Fi networking to collect production data and empower workers, supervisors and managers with up to the minute production visibility.
Shift in Production Brings Workers Back to the Shop Floor
Local news outlets covering Covercraft’s shift stated the influx of work has brought back as many as 25 recently furloughed employees. Covercraft’s Director of Marketing, Jeff Jegelewicz spoke with Oklahoma City, News 9 “At current capacity we think we can do about 4,000 units per day with what we have going on right now, but those could change to much larger numbers if the need is there and we can get the workforce back in here.”
Exenta is pleased to play a part in helping Covercraft make the transition to manufacturing needed PPE and in making it possible for employees to work in an environment that mitigates possible exposure to COVID-19.