The North American Apparel Industry | Apparel Inventory Software

Guest blog post by Samantha Hornby.

The following is a transcription of the above infographic discussing the North American apparel industry, statistics on apparel ecommerce and what apparel inventory software is all about.

The global textiles, apparel and luxury goods market had total revenues of $3,049.5 billion in 2011.  In 2010, China’s textile industry processed 41.3 million tons of fibre, which accounted for 53% of the world’s total production.

In Canada, the apparel industry is a growing modern industry no longer defined by the location of a sewing machine, but based on its output throughout its value chain.  Many new jobs and opportunities are being created for the thousands of young Canadians now studying in colleges and universities. Of the approximately 73,000 employees in the apparel industry, 37% are wholesalers and in 2010, Canadian households spent, on average, $2,500 (CDN) on apparel, footwear and related products and services.  In the US in 2010, American households spent, on average, $1,800 (CDN) on apparel, footwear and related products and services.  Most garment production for the US market is now in developing countries such as China, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India and the Philippines.  However, manufacturing production in the US has increased by about 5.7% since June 2009 – its fastest pace in a decade.

65% of mid-large size retailers in Canada had an eCommerce site in 2010, with most planning to have a site within 5 years.  Although the Canadian numbers are good, US retailers and marketers are even better at utilizing the internet for driving apparel sales and have been consistently providing more sophisticated online offerings. These include components that allow consumers to compare prices, follow style trends, view new collections and read customer ratings and reviews.  Mobile eCommerce in the US continues to grow.  eCommerce is very important to the apparel industry and although many companies have taken the leap to selling online the opportunity still remains for those who have not.  Clothing, accessories and shoes are one of the most popular categories of items purchased over the internet.

Anyone who has worked in the apparel industry with clothing, shoes sporting goods and similar products knows the inherent complication of dealing with large numbers of products that are similar, yet need to be tracked separately.  Some common issues for those in the industry include: the ability to get stock information in real time, the ability to easily make changes to product information and, the ability to manage numerous product codes properly.

These common issues can all be addressed with proper apparel inventory software.  When searching for apparel software, it is best to search for a system that includes apparel specific functionality but also functionality for all business operations such as an ERP system.  Enterprise resource planning (or ERP) is a fully integrated system that includes inventory, accounting and contact management and is designed as an end-to-end solution for all aspects of business operations.  Some ERP systems will also include eCommerce integration.

Apparel inventory software specific functionality includes product generation and an order entry and purchasing matrix. With product generation, users define a base part number (such as style) with variations in the product ID to account for size and colour.  This is particularly useful in situations where users not only need to create dozens of variations of a product, but need to input descriptions, categories, pricing and other product information.  Replicating this information manually across dozens of variations can be both time-consuming and error-prone.

With apparel products, since both sales and purchase orders are likely to contain products of the same style with varied colours and sizes, it is much easier to enter quantities in a matrix for a given style.  Using an order entry and purchasing matrix, an order entry employee can place orders by navigating a matrix of all colours and sizes for a given style, adding quantities where appropriate.  This will create multiple order lines in a fraction of the time it would take to key them in line by line.  The same functionality should be available for placing purchase orders.  Similarly, a matrix approach to price changes on a sales order or purchase order can save time and reduce the chance of errors.  For example, one style of product may come in 5 colours and 7 sizes creating 35 discrete products for inventory tracking purposes (see screen shot in infographic).