Within the broad umbrella of the fashion industry, various sub-verticals face distinct challenges, each moulded by their unique needs and complexities.
Outdoor brands, for example, navigate a landscape fraught with technical intricacies, raw material scarcity, and back-office challenges that set them apart from their counterparts.
In this piece, we dive into some of the most significant challenges outdoor brands face and offer solutions to these problems.
Outdoor goods must be highly functional and durable to survive various weather conditions, so their technical requirements greatly surpass typical fashion requirements.
As such, outdoor brands still require the same system solution requirements as other fashion companies, but their processes differ significantly.
The trick for these brands is to identify and adopt a solution built purposefully for outdoor fashion to navigate these complexities.
Raw material scarcity
To make matters worse, the technical requirements of outdoor goods mean that particular raw materials are needed to create them – and these specific materials are incredibly scarce.
Due to the scarcity of the raw materials, outdoor brands often have much longer lead times than traditional brands. As a result, their planning takes place much earlier.
Comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions with extended fashion-specific functionality are often best placed to support outdoor brands with this challenge.
Retroactive order changes
Some outdoor customers’ preferences change after the original order was placed. These clients are accustomed to being able to add different items and colours retroactively, which is rare in other verticals.
This inevitability impacts sales orders from other customers. Still, it is necessary due to how significant these clients may be to the outdoor brand’s profit margins, meaning they will always have priority when raw materials are scarcer than usual.
The solution to this challenge coincidentally solves another problem…
Channel management and prioritisation
Outdoor brands typically operate in a wholesale-driven environment, where sales are driven and limited based on product and material availability.
This environment can be challenging to navigate without efficient channel management and prioritisation support. With these capabilities, outdoor brands can more easily deal with critical customers’ stock to ensure a seamless flow of goods while keeping stock available for important clients across individual channels.
There are solutions available that empower brands to plan for their channels in siloes, ensuring stock is kept separate per business channel, as well as secure stock for special customers or groups to support unique programmes.
Seasonal follow-up complexity
Compared to traditional fashion brands that run multiple seasons, outdoor footwear brands face distinct challenges in managing seasonal follow-ups.
Due to limited raw material availability, outdoor brands often sell what they can deliver on a specific date while postponing subsequent sales orders due to the challenges of re-ordering and working with scarce raw materials.
Once again, robust and agile ERP solutions represent the best method for handling these complex requirements, as brands can quickly pivot in tandem with last-minute changes.
Quality control and higher prices
Outdoor goods typically command higher sales prices to account for the scarcity of the raw materials needed to manufacture them.
Consequently, the goods need to be of high quality to justify the higher price tag in the minds of consumers.
Resultantly, outdoor brands must ensure their products are subject to rigorous and stringent quality control checks throughout the production cycle to ensure the finished goods are up to par.
What can outdoor brands do?
The delicate balance between technical limitations, raw material scarcity and evolving consumer expectations presents innumerable problems for outdoor brands, but fortunately, there are paths forward.
Navigating these challenges requires not only a deep understanding of the unique demands of the outdoor industry but advanced solutions that address these complexities… like K3 Fashion.
K3 Fashion is a concept-to-consumer solution embedded in D365 Finance, Supply Chain Management and Commerce that offers comprehensive support for outdoor brands, all the way from concept to consumer.
If you’d like to learn more about how K3 Fashion can support you, feel free to drop us a line today.