How does on-demand manufacturing work for fashion brands?


Garment production off the runway

Aug 18, 2019

Amazon has done it again.

In typical Amazon fashion, the mega-corporation has cornered the fashion market on top of its many other conquests.

How?

By gaining a patent for an on-demand manufacturing system designed to quickly produce clothing only after a customer order is placed.

Amazon Patent

Amazon patent



Once this new manufacturing system is in place, you’ll be able to click and order a fashion product on Amazon.

Skip to -



Picture this.

Your order gets fed to a machine via tech packs, that machine starts analyzing all these orders, putting them on massive sheets of fabric, aligning them so production is efficient and optimized.

Fabric gets cut, stitched together with robots, while cameras are watching it at all times to make sure nothing goes wrong.

This is flipping everything we know about the clothing industry on its heads.

Instead of people designing products, building out inventory months in advance, shipping that inventory to stores, letting people wander around stores and browse, Amazon has put a new paradigm on the map: on-demand manufacturing.

Let’s take a deeper look into on-demand manufacturing, its benefits and how Techpacker ties in.

What is on-demand manufacturing?

Taxis have Uber. Hotels have Airbnb. On-demand manufacturing is the apparel industry’s equivalent of quick takeout.

To understand in-depth, let’s start with describing the traditional manufacturing process that it replaces.

The traditional manufacturing model was built for large businesses in mind.

In this model, quotes are delivered by email or over the phone, most manufacturers are located overseas, there are enormous minimum quantities, and lead times are long.

A corollary of the high MOQs of traditional supply chains is over-production.

Result?

Excess stock at the end of the season, forcing retailers to markdown.

Related read: Can The Latest Tech Reduce Fashion’s Overstocking Problem?


Not to mention it’s incredibly taxing on the environment.

By contrast, on-demand manufacturing eliminates warehouse inventory.

Think about it.

You only manufacture products that customers order.

Also, no high minimum order requirements, hence no markdown products, reduced over-production and less wasted materials.


The benefits of on-demand manufacturing

1 - Skip the warehouse

On-demand manufacturing takes the weight of warehousing off your shoulders.

That means lower costs for you and no inventory risk.

For small and new brands, this can be the difference between getting your business off the ground and getting bogged down or even road blocked by warehousing costs.

But even large and established enterprises benefit from the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of offloading inventory storage.

If you’ve already got a warehousing system, on-demand manufacturing allows you to leave that avenue free for existing goods while you experiment with new product lines, without further burdening your resources, staff, or margins.



2. Eliminate inventory risk

Since on-demand manufacturing is designed to provide only the goods you need, exactly when you need them, you don’t have to worry about over-stocking.

Not only does over-stocking tie up cash and resources that could be better spent elsewhere, but it can also lead to markdowns and brand dilution down the line.



3. React more nimbly to market demands

The traditional manufacturing model relies on high minimum order quantities (MOQs) to offset production costs and tends to have higher lead times than on-demand manufacturing.

This means higher upfront costs for you and longer wait times for your customers – a lose-lose in a consumer climate that thrives on speed, flexibility, and specificity.

With on-demand manufacturing, low or no MOQs paired with shorter lead times let you get your personalized apparel into customers’ hands more quickly and respond to demand fluctuations with speed and transparency.



4 - Test the market with small, high-quality batches

Whether you’re a new brand just getting started or a seasoned company with a loyal customer base, the ability to test markets always offers a competitive advantage.

With no minimum order requirements forcing your hand, you can make and test one piece at a time and then decided if it’s worth investing more money and energy.

With lower upfront costs and shorter turnaround times, you can order quality goods fast with less risk than ever before, and test their viability in real time, with real customers.



5 - Get up and running now

On-demand manufacturing lowers the barrier to entry for new entrepreneurs and opens doors to limited and niche markets for larger established businesses.

By sharing a load of warehousing, setting lower MOQs or eliminating them altogether, and prioritizing reacting over forecasting, on-demand manufacturing saves you upfront costs and gives you greater control over your margins, making manufacturing more accessible across the board.

Traditional manufacturing can weigh down your supply chain with high upfront costs, long turnaround times, and inventory burdens, holding big companies back and barring new companies from entry to the retail world altogether.



6 - No markdowns

At the end of the season, retailers are often stuck with an inventory of styles, color and sizes haven’t sold.
They are then forced to sell them at a heavy discount to get rid of it.

With on-demand manufacturing, you eliminate the risk of having to markdown or discount products at the end of your selling season.
You only have to manufacture what your customers order — which is more efficient and helps you save money.



7 - Shorter lead times

The traditional manufacturing model implies long, complex supply chains.

This means lead times can stretch from 6 to 10 months, depending on the product type and manufacturer’s location.

By contrast, on-demand manufacturing offers lead times of one to 10 days from the moment your customer places the order.



8 - Easier inventory management

Many on-demand manufacturing companies provide support through the entire product lifecycle by acting as the warehouse and inventory management service for your finished products.

If you choose to make a limited quantity of inventory upfront, this can eliminate the time and costs of shipping products from your manufacturer to your warehouse.

Shipping orders directly from the manufacturer can mean faster shipping times, which often makes for happier, more loyal customers.



9 - Creating products at scale

On-demand manufacturing works the same whether you’re making your first sample or fulfilling an order of 100 units.

As your brand grows and your needs change, you can continue to manufacture with the same facility as you scale.

On-demand manufacturing requires no MOQ so you never have to order more than you can afford or need at any given time.


How on-demand manufacturing works with Techpacker

Tech pack

Whether it’s traditional or on-demand, the starting point of all apparel manufacturing is a tech pack.  

Tech packs on Techpacker are built from Cards.

Cards offer the perfect interface for brands to create snappy on-demand order to suppliers.

Say you got a single order or you just want to test a garment sample made from a particular dead-stock fabric from your manufacturer's inventory.

Our soon-to-be-released new Explore Library feature will let you search for new or deadstock materials directly shared by suppliers and manufacturers.

These material samples will be displayed as Cards and contain information such as the fabric’s description, quantity, color, cost and the supplier’s contact information.

Once you’ve picked the perfect material, you can then drag and drop it directly into your tech packs.

That’s not all.

Techpacker places tech packs at the heart of product development.

The entire platform is centered around interactive tech packs designed as versatile workspaces used to manage your entire product development process.

And these tech packs are about to become even more versatile.

Techpacker now offers an open API to connect to hundreds of your favorite tools.

What does it mean?

It means you’ll be able to distill and transfer your tech pack data from Techpacker into other applications and manipulate it them from there.

In other words, information on your Cards will become exportable to other platforms.

This opens up a world of possibilities...

Imagine connecting Techpacker to your ERP, swapping ideas on Instagram, transitioning directly to Google Doc or doing line planning on your PLM.




Interested in knowing more about integrations?

Sign up for a free trial

OR

Contact us directly here

Manage your product development to production workflow with factories hastlefree. Try Techpacker.





Other related articles you may be interested in:

Can The Latest Tech Reduce Fashion’s Overstocking Problem?

6 ways fashion design teams can shorten time to market