Fashion sector’s blockchain technology- A boon to supply chain visibility

Fashion industry today is facing unprecedented challenges. Customers’ demand for particular products is unpredictable so as is their change in interests to collections. An organization’s success largely depends up on their responsiveness to these rapid changes in the market. While the industry is demand driven, organizations started contemplating strategies to decrease their response time and hit the market fulfilling consumers’ expectations. This is possible only when the data are available and manageable quickly.

Counterfeiting is a common issue tagged to the market. There has not been a solid way to significantly identify the diversion in the supply chain where counterfeits make their way into the market. For years, the industry has been using ERP system to plan and maintain their supply chains. ERPs and others lacked the level of transparency that today’s consumers and even organizations necessitate. According to report State of Fashion 2018, improvement and digitalization of supply chain is the biggest challenge that the industry will be facing in the year.

In 2018, blockchain technology was widely known because of its usage in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, while obscuring its other potential applications. Blockchain, a digital distributed ledger, adds blocks of anonymous transactions that are shared and maintained by a network or nodes in consensus, in such a way a single value cannot be altered easily; thus, making it practically impossible to be hacked or modified without being able to rewrite the entire chain of blocks. The jackpot is that blockchains can be permissionless (public) or permissioned (maintained among authorized groups).

This interesting technology has started to revolutionize the entire platform by making it possible to track and trace a product to its full history down to its material source. One interesting proof I read is the Copenhagen fashion summit where consumers scanned a code on the tags of garments and viewed the history of its making, including the specific alpacas that served as the source of wool. This potential of the technology should also be viewed as significantly to identify the discrete contributors that caused the distraction leading to counterfeit in the supply chain of a product, or even an unethical material in the sourcing line. Thus, saving time and cost to recall a bulk and provide opportunity for better health and management of inventory.

A technology that provides descriptive reports of consumer behaviour is a boon to an industry like fashion. It not only will help an organization predict consumer interests, enabling easier responses, but also develop new shopping experiences that could excite and attract consumers, such as interactive screens which may give a complete history of the apparel that they are purchasing at the click of a button.


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