Streaming analytics is having a huge impact on the fast fashion sector of retail, from the customer experience to supply chain management.
Streaming analytics is about to transform the fashion industry as a need to analyze data in motion becomes critical for everything from optimizing the supply chain to improving the overall customer experience.
Manufacturers of apparel have been applying analytics using batch processes for years. But as demand for more custom products and services has increased there’s a growing need to be able to optimize manufacturing lines, says Neil Hicks, CEO of Pandesco, a provider of IT services focusing primarily on the fashion industry.
The rise of fast fashion, in particular, is putting pressure on supply chains. Apparel manufacturers need to be able to optimize manufacturing lines to deliver the right amount of product based on the latest fashions to hit the runway. That creates an acute need to be able to apply analytics in real time to create more accurate demand forecasts, says Hicks.
“Manufacturers need to optimize their yields,” says Hicks. “That requires better sell-through projections.”
At this point, demand for more custom clothing is also growing rapidly. Some providers of online services for manufacturing custom dresses and suits are collecting as many as 85 data points per customer. Naturally, not all that data needs to be analyzed in real time. But as part of any digital business initiative interest in being able to correlate interactions with customers across multiple channels is high.
Manufacturers and retailers alike, for example, want to know precisely how much end customers are interacting with them online before entering a brick-and-mortar store or vice versa. Regardless of whatever path chosen by the customer the one thing that is apparent to all that engaging with the customer at the precise moment a purchase is being contemplated or made has never been more critical.
Hicks notes manufacturers also now need be able to make dynamic adjustments to their e-commerce sites to prevent customers from ordering a product that is only going to be available on back order when there isn’t enough material on hand to manufacture it.
Streaming Analytics Needed in Logistics
In addition, says that streaming analytics will play a significant role in distribution. Rather than relying on store managers to know when to replenish shelves, real-time analytics should enable the distributor to automatically replenish an item whenever it’s out of stock by redirecting allocations of products wherever and whenever necessary, says Hicks.
Much of that capability is going to be enabled by sensor and RFID tags that are now becoming inexpensive enough to attach to garments, adds Hicks. Manufacturers not only want to know what’s in stock at any given moment they also want insights into how different types of customers are navigating a retail environment. Armed with that information they may choose to either directly or indirectly enable the retailer to make special offers available.
In general, Hicks says that despite all the hype surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT), there is rising awareness of what can be accomplished using sensors and analytics. The biggest issue now, says Hicks, will be the amount of time it will for executives in the fashion industry to make the mental adjustments needed to apply the current state of the IT art to their individual manufacturing and distribution processes.