With the spread of COVID-19, the economic landscape of the world has been changed drastically and shown us that industries need to evolve and adapt. While a pandemic such as this is unprecedented in recent years, it has provided organizations with a chance to evaluate and evolve to be able to survive or thrive in a state of emergency.
All industries have essentially come to a standstill with the consumers and the producers’ primary focus being essential goods and protective gear. As most countries are currently on lockdown, the apparel industry is taking a severe hit on two fronts. For production, it has become harder to source raw materials and machines as the primary production hub for most of these are China. Even though China has re-opened the supply chain has not fully recovered yet. On the consumer end many developed countries especially Europe and the Americas are taking a severe hit reducing demand as well, with consumers focusing more on purchasing essential goods.
But these problems can create new chances for opportunity and growth if they are handled tactically.
Relationships are important
In time of crisis co-operation and assistance become the foundations for overcoming the crisis. Improving relationships between suppliers and customers becomes the first step in which all parties involved manages to survive and reduce the chance of a loss. Organizations need to help both the customers who purchase inventory and the suppliers who assist them to provide their services. People tend to have more faith in organizations who ensure that the stakeholders are well taken care of even in times of crises which will be beneficial down the road when it comes to the peak of the business cycle.
Communication remains key, where open honest conversation and the willingness to adapt will create stronger business relationships.
Support the people:
The most important asset in any organization are the employees. While it is a tough time for all industries many of the people are suffering drastically. A lot of the workers especially those in the apparel industry happen to depend on their daily incentives and with work coming to a standing halt many have lost their meager source of income. As such organizations need to divert money in order to take care of their employees.
But this period also allows a unique chance to improve one’s repertoire. As most people are confined to their homes, it allows them to learn a skill which was previously unattainable due to time constraints. Organizations must motivate their employees to stay busy, keep polishing their skills and adding new skills for when the economy starts back up again. This will add value not only to the person themselves but to the organization as well. Companies should also focus on strategizing during this time, especially regarding projects which may have been on hold earlier due to daily tasks.
The safety of a workplace has changed as well where organizations have to pay closer attention to the health of their employees. When restarting production, factories must follow health and safety regulations paying close attention as to how to make a safe environment for everyone. Apparel plants usually have a couple of hundred employees in a single location as such their safety remains the top priority.
Survival strategies and adaptation
Organizations need to focus on surviving during and post pandemic. Apparel manufacturers can have become an essential service now due to the influx in the need for protective gear such as face masks, scrubs, gloves, etc. This will create a short term income for the organization as well, especially since most of the products cannot be re-used.
Organizations must create new short term and long term goals taking into account the effects caused by the pandemic.
A potential long term goal for most brands would be to switch from traditional brick and motor stores to an e-commerce platform. As seen during the coronavirus lockdown most people tend to order goods online. While the world was slowly shifting towards e-commerce from traditional retailing, the current pandemic appears to accelerate the shift of consumer purchases to online shopping. Therefore the apparel manufacturers will also need to prepare themselves to cater on-demand manufacturing and direct to consumer concepts.
Investing in multiple strategies give organizations a better chance of making a profit and to quickly adapt when there is a crisis. Focusing on an avenue which may have worked well prior to COVID-19, could be potentially disastrous as the world has changed drastically these few months. Having multiple strategies running in tandem will make an organization more adaptive to change, more sustainable and profitable in the long run.