Interaction Matters: The Advantages of Face-to-Face Training in a Digital Age

Interaction Matters: The Advantages of Face-to-Face Training in a Digital Age

Online or e-training has grown in popularity in the past decade, particularly due to its 24/7 availability, ease of use, and accessibility. For these reasons, many organizations choose online training to orient newly hired employees. While many workplaces are drawn to the flexibility and, of course, the lower costs of online training, the benefits of face-to-face training may be well worth giving old school methods a fresh look. Not all content can be seamlessly translated into the digital world just yet, and for this reason, there are aspects of face-to-face training that simply cannot be recreated by online training.

 

At our core, humans are social creatures. We thrive on social interactions, and while technology and social media have made it easier than ever to connect, face-to-face interaction has a strong impact on our cognitive and behavioral processes. In-person training faciliates engagement, communication, and stronger learning overall, and something that is lacking in the online training experience. Face-to-face training fosters collaboration and teamwork. It also offers unique opportunities for networking – a handshake and in-person conversation are exponentially better than exchanging impersonal emails back and forth. Networking is one of the key aspects of business, and face-to-face training offers a simple and easy way to form these connections. Relationships are strengthened by these face-to-face interactions, especially because body language and behavioral mannerisms come into play during in-person trainings. It provides for a far richer emotional experience, which can be essential in creating lasting impressions.

 

Another benefit of face-to-face training is its potential for adaptability. A good instructor can recognize and meet the needs of their specific participants – if they need more help with certain topics, the instructor can adjust the course to meet these needs, creating a more positive learning environment for all. E-training can fall into the rut of not having that type of flexibility available, which could be detrimental to certain types of learners. In addition to its adaptability, however, face-to-face training boosts concentration and engagement. An online course essentially boils down to watching a video or chatting in a chatroom; face-to-face training necessitates a higher level of focus. Distractions that can plague e-learners are removed in an in-person environment; there’s no opportunity to “multi-task” while speedily clicking through an online course’s screens when you attend a face-to-face training session. As a result, it’s clear that face-to-face training can help learners truly learn the material, rather than simply skimming through a video or slideshow. While nothing can beat online learning’s convenience and flexibility for those with strict schedules, the level of interaction that face-to-face training provides is incomparable.

 

Finally, the cost-effectiveness of virtual training may be rather misleading. If your workers aren’t adequately participating in or learning from the materials provided, then you may have to spend more money down the line in retraining your employees, which would negate the savings from choosing online training. As a result, it’s important for companies to consider what’s most important to them – do they need the flexibility that online training provides, or are they willing to spend a little bit more to invest in face-to-face training and the interaction that comes with it? It depends on what your goals are as a brand and company, but do not discount the advantages that face-to-face training can bring.

 

At Exenta, we recognize the value of face-to-face training and we support our new client implemenations with focused training for the users of our ERP, PLM REVO and Shop Floor Control solutions. In-person training is an important step in our seamless implementation experience and is part of the Exenta Difference, and our Proven Path™ Methodology, one of the reasons customers choose us 9 times more than other fashion technology partners.

 

Why Fashion Brands Need Smart Supply Chains

Why Fashion Brands Need Smart Supply Chains

One of the biggest challenges facing the retail and apparel industry is the need to catch up to, and succeed in, a wildly competitive market. As more and more brands begin to accelerate their processes and look for ways to bring about increased optimization and efficiency, it has become more critical than ever for supply chains to also work on improvements. Between the demand for transparency from consumers and the need to compete in a fast-paced market, it’s not surprising that apparel and retail companies have begun to focus on prioritizing and innovating their supply chains. Implementing new technology will be pivotal for most of these brands if they wish to stay afloat in our era of fast fashion.

An adaptable supply chain allows for far faster response times, allowing brands to pinpoint which products are selling and which products aren’t. If a certain piece is selling far more units than expected, a brand can pivot to immediately increase production of that particular unit, but traditional supply chains don’t accommodate this type of rapid-fire response, with turnaround times for reorders ranging from 10 to 25 weeks, by which time the window of opportunity is lost. So, it’s easy to see why a flexible supply chain is absolutely critical in delivering the correct products at the right time, and flexibility can only happen through the use of automated processes within the supply chain. Automated process can handle faster turnaround times and quicker responses, leading to more informed and accurate decisions, while also increasing efficiency at all levels of the company.

Faster supply chains also deliver greater visibility. A variety of software solutions are available for brands seeking to promote greater visibility within their supply chain and other processes. If a team has access to information across the entire company (design, production, and distribution), then they are well-informed about what is happening and what problems may arise, which all ties into flexibility and the ability to generate faster response times.

Problems can also be addressed as they appear in real-time if everyone has access to the same information, promoting greater collaboration between different departments and even with a company’s suppliers. It’s also important for companies to communicate with their entire supply chain – successful brands establish relationships with everyone in the supply chain, emphasizing communication and opening up dialogues. This leads to better working relationships and an ability to collaborate when it comes to solving problems within the supply chain. Both visibility and collaboration work hand-in-hand to increase efficiency and minimize problems such as mismanaged inventory. The supply chain of the future will promote and emphasize both flexibility and visibility, as both are needed in order to truly create and nurture well-optimized processes.

Visibility also leads to transparency, which is vital as the consumers of today become more conscientious and socially responsible. The fashion world has been plagued by tragedies, such as the Rana Plaza collapse; as a result, consumers are demanding a more ethical shift within the industry. With a fully transparent supply chain, consumers can rest assured that the products they are purchasing come from ethical and fair-trade companies, where workers are given the rights they deserve.

It’s not far-fetched to think that, one day, consumers could open an app on their phone and scan a product’s barcode and be able to see every step of its lifecycle. There are already brands that promote transparency and fair-trade practices, but smarter supply chains could make it easier for all brands to do so.

In all, it’s clear that the apparel industry is going through a transformation in response to an ever-evolving market. Faster, more efficient solutions are replacing previous standards within the industry as technology begins to weave its way into the retail and apparel worlds. As companies begin to focus on innovating their supply chains, they must remember that flexibility and visibility are key factors in building the supply chains of the future.

Social Entrepreneurs and the Apparel Industry

Social Entrepreneurs and the Apparel Industry

Social entrepreneurship is quickly gaining a foothold in the apparel industry, and it’s refreshing to watch the transformation it brings. The social reputation of the fashion industry has traditionally not always been a positive one. A history of unethical treatment of workers, little to no focus on sustainability and massive waste is has shaped the industry’s reputation of the past. As social entrepreneurship grows in popularity, however, that reputation is evolving. Social entrepreneurs work to establish companies that reflect their values and as consumers respond favorably to socially conscious goods by granting them greater market share, traditional companies must rise to these new standards to remain competitive. The apparel industry is becoming more eco-conscious and ethical as it takes steps to keep up with these social entrepreneurs and respond to consumer demands.

What exactly is social entrepreneurship, and why is it so influential in the fashion and apparel world? At its core, social entrepreneurship is simply using a company to advocate for social, cultural, and/or environmental issues. The fashion industry has been plagued with issues centered around sustainability and ethical treatment of its workers. Burberry, the British high fashion house, made headlines in 2018 when it was revealed that the company had a practice of burning and destroying excess and unsold stock in an effort to keep the brand’s reputation of exclusivity and luxury. In 2013, a factory building in Bangladesh known as Rana Plaza collapsed, killing over 1000 people in one of the worst industrial accidents on record. Both of these issues highlight a serious issue in the fashion industry – many brands have historically been indifferent to the environmental impact of their products and the workplace conditions of those who manufacture them. Social entrepreneurship has become popular within the apparel industry, as consumers recognize that this kind of intervention is necessary to create meaningful change. Social entrepreneurs are also innovating as they seek original ways to deal with social and environmental issues while still producing a product that appeals to the marketplace.

Sudara, founded by Shannon Keith, works with women in India who are at risk of becoming a sex trafficking victim, or who have escaped from trafficking. Because of a lack of income makes women more vulnerable to trafficking, Sudara employs at risk Indian women to sew their loungewear and offers the opportunity for them to explore other roles in different fields such as IT work, cosmetology, and tailoring. Workers can develop the foundational skills they need to find different types of jobs outside the company. Sudara also works with partners who help to train women throughout the year, and this program currently results in an 89% job placement rate for participants. Keith’s brand just is one of many brands using social entrepreneurship to enact real change in the world.

There are numerous other social entrepreneurs fighting to change, and ultimately better, the apparel industry from within. Akshay Sethi, founder of Ambercycle, uses her brand to upcycle polyester (a major contributor to microplastic pollution) into a new type of fabric. Collective impact and action are essential when it comes to enacting lasting change, and it’s part of the reason that Ambercycle, and others like it, have come together to connect with and learn from each other.

In all, it is clear that social entrepreneurship has come a long way in trying to transform the apparel industry from within. As more and more brands begin to take on various causes, it’s vital that they support and lift each other up in an international and interconnected network. Their success will inspire others to join in and can pave the way in supporting businesses that use their capital and influence to transform the industry and influence society.
Smart Manufacturing Going from Traditional to Digital

Smart Manufacturing Going from Traditional to Digital

Innovation is the name of the game for almost any industry today. In order to keep up with the constantly changing market, manufacturers recognize that it is time to get serious about adapting and finding smart solutions in order to remain competitive. As a result, much of the fashion world is turning to digital or technological solutions to keep pace in a rapidly evolving industry. Manufacturers in every industry are considering the benefits of “smart factories” powered by IoT (Internet of Things) tech[MOU1] .

The ultimate goal for any factory of the future is to minimize, and ultimately eliminate, problems such as inefficiency, waste, and downtime. While smart factories may differ in specifics from company to company, the general principle is that processes can be improved through self-optimization and automation using the combination of production, information, and communication technologies.

Smart factories also allow for the possibility of integration across the entire supply chain. The benefits of smart factories go far beyond just physical production – development, logistics, and planning can all be improved by a smart factory’s data collection and access to real-time information. Interconnected devices are able to communicate with each other, and through their communications, the factory gains far more transparency and visibility, which can all be used to make better and more informed real-time decisions.

This interconnectivity allows fashion manufacturers to better manage quality assurance, particularly because the technology allows for constant monitoring of products before release. If something goes wrong, workers will be alerted, and the mistake can be easily corrected. This translates into more quality products being delivered, which also reduces waste and improves customer satisfaction.

Due to smart factories’ self-optimization features, processes throughout the entire plant can be tested and then streamlined. Fashion manufacturers are able to see which parts of the process may be broken or redundant, allowing for a more optimized and efficient supply chain to come into play. The biggest benefit, however, comes as smart factories collect and analyze data from all parts of the supply chain. Manufacturers are able to access a wealth of information, allowing them to make better informed decisions. In addition, companies can now respond to problems as they arise in real-time, thus creating a more adaptable and flexible environment.

Despite all the benefits, some organizations will be slow to adopt smart factories due to concerns about the costs associated with implementing new technologies and adding the network to connect them. This is often a misconception. Partnering with the right fashion-specific technology provider can ensure a cost-effective and smooth transition to smart manufacturing. At Exenta, our clients find an overwhelming ROI just months after implementing our ShopFloor Control solution.

As the apparel industry increasingly embraces the benefits of smart manufacturing, those who wait to adopt new technologies will find it very challenging to compete in this era of fast fashion.


 [MOU1]Please link to IoT and Fashion blog post unless that is an SEO issue

The Future Of Retail Technology

The Future Of Retail Technology

Today’s culture surrounding retail and how consumers shop seems to be rather primitive when compared to the technological advances that have occurred in many other areas of the fashion industry.

Fabrics and textiles are becoming far more innovative, thanks to the use of smart fabrics and wearables, while designers are toying with the power of livestreams and social media when it comes to marketing their brands and products. Retail, on the other hand, hasn’t really seen much of an advance when it comes to in-store physical shopping. Why aren’t brands and companies investing in software that could revolutionize the way consumers shop for their clothes?

The future for almost any industry right now is personalization. More and more consumers want things that are tailor-made for their preferences and needs, and customization is becoming an increasingly popular product for companies to offer. The retail industry understands this – imagine how nice it would be to walk into a store and have a sales associate already know which items to hand you. These offerings would be based, of course, on previous purchases, but also on your specific desires (material or fit preferences). It would cut down on the inefficient and often stressful nature of in-store shopping.

This type of technology is not entirely far-fetched, as there are companies that can and do deliver these highly personalized and effective recommendations, but the tech has been slow make the jump to the retail world. This level of customization could increase customer satisfaction and loyalty to a particular brand; shoppers are far more likely to return to stores that can offer them the perks that only personalization brings. As a result,it’s important for retailers to focus on this technology, but it’s also important for them to work with consumers when it comes to addressing privacy and security concerns.

While most consumers would love to have a personalized experience, they are wary about allowing brands access to such private information and data about their shopping preferences and needs. There is a “creepiness” factor – just how much data will these companies collect? As a result, request for information to enhance personalization should be presented in an “opt-in” manner, to allow those consumers who do not wish to participate an option to protect privacy.

In addition, retailers can look for different methods of distribution; instead of suggestions coming from a sales associate, they could come via a mobile application. This is where artificial intelligence and big data can come into play, as their capabilities are perfect for fine-tuning this type of retail experience. AI can help match consumer preferences with a certain product depending on its characteristics, while retailers can analyze the data generated from their sales in order to predict which trends might be popular and which might not. All of this, of course, can only be implemented in a way that will not spark resistance, and changing culture is perhaps the hardest part of implementing any form of technology. Retailers simply have to convince consumers of the benefits that can come with this type of software. And its ability to simplify their shopping experiences.

The retail industry must consider adapting, or they will be put out of business by their online competitors. With the plethora of options now offered through the Internet, consumers need an enticing reason to visit brick-and-mortar shops, creating the perfect incentive for the retail industry to start backing innovative and futuristic tech.

In all, while there are concerns surrounding privacy and security, it seems that the retail world is heading towards a culture built around personalized and customized shopping experiences powered by smart software. If industry leaders can convince consumers that it’s in their best interest to allow this type of technology into their lives, the future of retail could look very different from what it currently is today.

Real-Time Information in Fashion Is A Fashionable Must

Real-Time Information in Fashion Is A Fashionable Must

Staying alive in the Fashion Industry has always been tough. It is one of the most competitive environments in commerce. The apparel companies and designers who once thrived did so by having vison. They knew what their customers wanted, even before they knew what they wanted.

In the past, intuition, business judgment, and vision successfully introduced the newest fashion trends to the runway, and then to the market. Victory in Fashion was once an art. Visionary designers led the way into the latest trends and fads as if only they possessed crystal balls. What they produced sold, and fast. The good news, and the bad news, is that victory in Fashion is no longer just an art. It is also a science. In fact, merging the two is now necessary for survival in the Fashion Industry today.

Today, prospering Fashion companies must have two things: Vision and Real-Time Information. Creativity is still a must, but apparel companies must also know exactly what is happening, at all times, from design, to manufacturing, to fulfillment. Where is the inventory, how much of it is on the shelves at this very moment, when is it moving and to where? What garments in particular are customers buying, and in which sizes and colors? There is no time for mistakes. The apparel companies that have this real-time information are constantly taking design concepts to consumers faster and faster, and perhaps most importantly, they are profiting by most accurately predicting demand and fulfilling it. They are leaving little room for their competition to bear the cost of waste, obsolete inventory, chargebacks, and even Fashion prediction and guesswork.

Apparel companies and designers without Real-Time information have no choice but to implement new technology or to upgrade their legacy systems. In short, this is now a world that responds immediately to consumer demand rather than first predicting what consumer demand will be. This is now a world where to stay alive, one must live in harmony with the tech giants. It is arguable that Amazon alone has created an environment in which Fashion companies have no choice but to deliver what the customer wants to the customer’s door, preferably not tomorrow, but yesterday. The only way to do this is through turning a lot of data (Big Data) into real-time information.

The available technology choices for success are arguably many, but still there are a number of things an Apparel company must have in place to best convert real-time information into cost-effectiveness and a profitable bottom line. A few of these are:

1. Accurate real-time supply and demand prediction. What is happening with product and materials, right now? In today’s climate, with such short inventory cycles, there needs to be complete visibility into the supply chain. With the right system in place, an apparel company can predict future consumer demand by using technology that allows immediate visibility into materials, inventory and product flow. For example, with the right system in place, a manager can see what the consumer or retailer is buying today and then make relevant purchasing decisions in real time. Without the right system in place, procurement and fulfillment becomes guesswork. Buying decisions are verified long after the fact, sometimes months later when the old legacy system reports are finally produced and delivered by the accounting department.

2. Real-time purchasing decisions.  When real-time purchasing decisions can be made, apparel companies minimize the cost of materials, an expense which is nearly always the greatest burden to managing cash flow. With real-time purchasing at one’s fingertips, via a vendor portal system or module, vendors submit bids or quotes in a matter of minutes. There is no wait time. The best prices are known and acted upon without any guesswork. For many companies, success is found in a real-time competitive bidding environment that only the right technology can provide. Real-time bidding competition often gets the best materials pricing.

3. Predictive analytics and Business Intelligence (BI). It should be highlighted that just having real-time data, or the information derived from it, does not currently provide the most competitive and leading edge real-time information. The best technology in the market now not only provides visibility into real-time information, but also turns this information into graphs, data-charts, and predictive analytics. In other words, the best BI tools visually (in a snapshot) show exactly where inventory movement is lagging and where warehouse shelves are being depleted. They show in pictures exactly how much of every item, and in which geographies, materials and inventory are moving from the shelves, to the retailer, and ultimately into the hands of the consumer.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please contact us.