EDI Is Always On Trend In The Apparel Industry

By Molly Goad

American fashion icon Iris Apfel once said, “Fashion you can buy, but style you possess.” The 99-year-old businesswoman certainly has style, with her circular glasses, chunky necklaces, and bright, multicolored clothing. 

Apfel says it takes years to discover your own sense of style. But whether you have “it” already or not, we are all consumers in the apparel industry. 

A retail men and women’s clothing store in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

While not quite as large as the global auto or technology industries, the apparel sector is not far behind — and growing steadily. According to market and consumer data provider Statista (www.statista.com), global retail sales of clothing and footwear is predicted to rise to above three trillion U.S. dollars by 2030 (2019 sales topped out at $1.9 trillion).

Because this industry has centers all over the world, its players need to be able to move quickly. And, you guessed it — EDI is what keeps clothing manufacturing, distribution, and sales rolling along. (EDI stands for electronic data interchange, which is just a fancy way of saying sharing documents in a common virtual format.) 

Nearly all of the big clothing retailers (Nordstrom, Target, and Macys, to name a few) require suppliers to conduct business via EDI. If your product is picked up by Macys, you won’t be able to move forward in the relationship without an EDI solution in place. (To learn more about how EDI works, click here.) 

Let’s explore key areas where EDI is vital to the apparel industry. 

Connect Globally

Like the auto industry, apparel is created all over the world. Trends in fashion are constantly evolving and apparel suppliers and merchandisers need to move quickly to keep up. Retailers everywhere want high-quality designs at a low cost. They desire garments that are flexible, designed to be worn for years to come. (I mean, who doesn’t want all that?) EDI allows fashion designers to get their products in stores (both brick and mortar and online) throughout the world as fast as possible with a low margin. 

Reduce Returns

The fashion industry has a very high rate of return compared to other retail products due to size, fit, color, and more. EDI helps to minimize this issue with better, more accurate product descriptions processed through the EDI software. A detailed description is populated automatically across all channels, ensuring every trading partner has the correct information. 

When a return is necessary, EDI facilitates the transaction documents between seller and consumer and/or trading partners. The return is processed swiftly and everyone is happy. And satisfied customers and trading partners will come back for more of your product.

Improve Inventory Visibility

EDI allows partners to see just how many denim jackets, for example, are in stock, and where. Buyers can see the numbers at the warehouse, retail store, or supplier level before putting in a purchase order. In addition, ecommerce sites can use EDI to show the inventory level directly in their online store, so customers know if the denim jacket is in stock. After the jacket is purchased, EDI provides detailed tracking information to the ecommerce store which passes it on to the recipient. 

Trace All Documents 

Have you ever experienced radio silence after sending someone an important email, only to discover days later that the message went to their junk folder? That type of unnecessary delay doesn’t happen with the high-level of traceability EDI provides.

EDI sends information automatically and allows users to track every document at any point during the transaction. No more crickets — you’ll be able to see whether or not the message has been opened or read, and act quickly when the system flags something that hasn’t been acted on.  

In addition to POs, EDI automates the sharing of other documents important to apparel including product catalogs, sales reports, advance ship notices (also known as despatch advices), to name a few. 

Accuracy

EDI is critical for completing purchase orders accurately — the first step to moving merchandise. When a PO is initiated through EDI, the item number, price, and other data is populated automatically. Accidentally typing the wrong quantity or transposing a digit in the item number just doesn’t happen with EDI. 

Let’s face it, humans aren’t perfect — even the most meticulous person can make a mistake. This eliminates the headaches — and time — involved with correcting a shipment that arrives with 5,000 pairs of shoes instead of 500. 

Cost Effective

Because EDI automation removes some human involvement, the manpower can be shifted elsewhere. Give those humans who were typing in order numbers and routing POs other valuable assignments, such as maintaining a social media presence, trend research, blog writing, finding new businesses to partner with, checking out the competition, or anything else you can think of. 

Migrate to BOLD VAN 

If you desire to work with the leading fashion retailers, BOLD VAN can make sure you’re set up for success. If you’d like to give it a shot, or if you’re unhappy with your current EDI system, please know that BOLD VAN makes it simple. You’ll be in good hands as we implement our system quickly and seamlessly.  

To find out how to get started, contact BOLD VAN by calling 844-265-3777 or emailing info@boldvan.com.

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