How Blockchain Is Transforming the Apparel Supply Chain

Omnichain in the News:

Pratik Soni, Founder and CEO, Omnichain Solutions, explains the impact of blockchain on the evolution of supply chains.

It is an exciting time of innovation for the apparel industry — and retail at large — with brands and retailers creating new and dynamic ways to attract and engage with customers.

For instance, lululemon’s latest flagship store is more than a place to buy yoga pants. The sprawling 20,000-square-foot space includes a restaurant, meditation room and workout studios. Rather than stick to the traditional department store model, Nordstrom is opening several smaller Nordstrom Local stores without inventory but space for interactive experiences. This summer, Gucci introduced a new feature for its iOS app that lets consumers try on its Ace sneakers collection through augmented reality.

There is another burgeoning technology transforming the industry: blockchain. Whereas recent innovations and digital interventions have focused on reimagining the customer experience, blockchain presents a radical solution to the technical aspects of managing and maintaining a sustainable supply chain.

A decades-old problem

For too long, many brands and retailers have relied on decades-old systems such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to record information on purchase orders and invoices. This data is then used to support critical decisions such as demand forecasting and merchandise allocation. Unfortunately, EDI limits the number of parties that can communicate on a network, which inhibits upstream and downstream communication. The inevitable silos make it difficult to think holistically about supply chain management, resulting in inaccurate production numbers and misallocation of SKUs that hurt profitability on account of missed sales opportunities and additional costs from excess inventory.

Blockchain instead bridges these silos with real-time data flow between every link in the supply chain. Formerly fragmented data is unified through a single, immutable ledger that is visible to all parties. Brands and retailers can then transform their operations and create more customer-centric supply chains with new ways of thinking about logistics, inventory management, authentication and consumer trust.

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