Monday 17 May 2021

Beyond 2020: Survival of The Smartest, ASBCI's online conference

The rise of customisation and on-demand and the demise of wasteful mass production business models were among the predictions made by speakers at the ASBCI’s Survival of the Smartest digital conference on May 12, 2021. The future will be smarter, more agile, and more personal, with a higher percentage of product made closer to home and innovative new distribution models emerging in response to the rapid acceleration of the multi-channel ecommerce strategies that have emerged from successive lockdowns.


To meet these new demands, and to transform the industry in the wake of Covid and in response to the climate crisis, the industry must get smarter, said Marcella Wartenbergh, CEO of AWWG. Digital transformation across the entire supply chain is essential, maximising efficiency, speed to market, and the customer experience while delivering sustainability benefits including reducing waste and shrinking carbon footprints.

Keynote speaker Ed Gribbin CEO of Gribbin Strategic was the first to highlight the rise of customisation and the role of on-demand in the future of more responsive, more responsible production. This theme was picked up by several speakers, including Steffen Meiler from Lectra, and Jenny Holloway from Fashion-Enter, where a new micro-factory will go into operation soon, manufacturing on-demand orders for ASOS and shipping them direct to the consumer.

Changes in consumer behaviour during the pandemic were explained by digital psychology expert Andrew Nicholson from Kulea.ma, who outlined ways retailers could break consumer’s lockdown shopping habits – if they want to. He predicted that the future of retail will be an amalgamation of the online and offline experiences, and Frazer Mead, head of sourcing, fashion, at The Very Group agreed, saying that the increased expectations of consumers will require online retailers to find ways to combine the social, experiential aspects of shopping with the convenience of online.

What these changes mean for brands and retailers at a supply chain level was discussed by Stuart Greenfield from Advanced Supply Chain Group and David Flavell, head of inbound supply chain at ASOS, while Adam Mansell CEO of the UKFT, addressed the impact of Brexit on the UK fashion industry, and predicted that the combination of pandemic-induced changes and Brexit pressures could see a return of UK manufacturing at scale if both the industry and Government are prepared to invest in its success.

The conference was chaired by Dr Julie King, deputy dean at the University of South Wales and ASBCI event director. The event was organised with event technical partner Lectra and sponsored by Advanced Supply Chain Group.

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