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Agile Supply Chain in the Fashion Industry Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 12th, 2021

Abstract

The topic of organizing efficient supply chains in the modern fashion industry is a significant theme due to the high demand for goods of this profile and the profits that they may bring. This work is the literature review that presents academic research in the field under consideration through the critical analysis of the hypotheses proposed by different authors. Supply chain management and its agility, building partnerships, and applying relevant control mechanisms are the key topics to be covered. All the scholarly resources utilized are peer-reviewed and taken from a credible database. The research question is posed to determine the role of work on maintaining agility and the functions of suppliers in maintaining purchases at a sufficiently high level. The findings may be of practical importance for modern fashion enterprises and can be used to analyze the current mechanism of organizing partnership agreements with suppliers.

Introduction

The competent analysis of a particular topic through a literature review is a successful methodology that allows considering a specific problem from different standpoints and drawing conclusions regarding the relevance of certain hypotheses. A study based on this principle may help find valuable theories and practical recommendations for the topic studied through critical appraisal, and this work has the same goal. The current literature review focuses on the agility of supply chains in the fashion industry. The importance of this theme lies in the fact that today, the quality and speed of interaction with suppliers are the keys to business success, and the sphere associated with style and fashion is no exception. According to Cerruti, Mena, Skipworth, and Tavoletti (2016), dynamic client interest in this industry dictates certain conditions, in particular, the need to organize supply chains competently. Moreover, products delivered to the fashion market tend to become obsolete, which is an additional incentive for detailed and thorough research. As Christopher, Lowson, and Pec (2004) argue, this area is characterized by its short-life cycles. Therefore, it is essential to analyze the topic based on the findings in academic literature.

This review focuses on the description of the existing supply chain algorithms in the fashion industry, the ways of accelerating interaction among stakeholders, as well as gaps in this area. The analysis of successful approaches will be included since this issue is relevant and has practical significance for many market participants. Specific examples of companies will be excluded because the work focuses on the theoretical and critical rationale for certain concepts and principles but not reporting on the success or failure of specific organizations. Qrunfleh and Tarafdar (2013) remark that competent supply chain management is an important business tool. Accordingly, the evaluation of the significance of this mechanism is essential.

Based on the proposed survey spectrum, the research question is as follows: an effective and agile interaction with suppliers in the fashion industry play a significant role in purchasing and the stable sales of goods? The work will include a brief description of the sources used, their origin, and their relevance to the topic under consideration. Also, in the discussion section, the resources will be grouped by specific criteria. They are the importance of supply chain agility in the fashion industry, the key drivers for ensuring progress, as well as the impact of relevant organizational strategies on the quality of purchasing strategies. In general, adhering to the principle of close contact with suppliers and purchasing high-quality goods helps to withstand market competition and achieve customer interest by offering relevant and sought-after products.

Research Methodology

To conduct this literature review, the method of selecting sources by using keyword searches in special databases was performed. All academic works were taken from the Emerald Insight online platform, and for some articles, the Google Scholar search engine was used. The method with the help of keywords was chosen because the topic under consideration was quite specific and narrow, and common terms, for instance, supply chain organization, would not allow finding appropriate resources. Moreover, the method of sources blind sampling that might be carried out could cause the incorrect interpretation of the data obtained, which is unacceptable in an academic study and is a violation of research ethics. Therefore, a deeper search for the required academic background was carried out to find the most suitable and relevant articles.

As a base for the study, seven scholarly articles were selected, and each of them is related to the topic of supply chains in the fashion industry. Initially, a greater number of works were analyzed (about twenty). However, afterward, the most relevant sources were used since they corresponded to the stated topic as accurately as possible and could allow answering the given research question. The articles were taken from academic journals, and they all relate to the topic of logistics, marketing, and business management, which are the key topics to study. Some works are not sufficiently relevant about the date of publication. Nevertheless, they contain valuable information that is of high practical importance, and their use in this review carries scientific value. For all the selected articles to comply with the stated topic and reveal the necessary problems, the relevant keywords were used, in particular, “supply chain,” “fashion,” “industry,” “agility,” “strategy,” “business,” and “driver.” Filtering the search by date allowed finding the most suitable works. The applied database contained peer-reviewed articles that were valuable and proven sources, which is one of the basic conditions of research.

Discussion

To assess the significance of all the collected articles about the topic studied, the sources may be grouped into separate sections. These sub-topics address the most significant supply chain issues in the fashion industry. In parallel, the resources will be compared in terms of the relevance of certain ideas and the implications of significant theories and hypotheses. Based on such a detailed review, competent conclusions may be drawn concerning the proposed sub-themes, and the research question can be answered by researching the authors’ thoughts and arguments.

Importance of Supply Chains Agility in the Fashion Industry

The importance of supply chain agility in the fashion industry is addressed in all the analyzed articles. However, Christopher et al. (2004) focus on this topic in more detail and provide arguments in favor of the importance of establishing appropriate logistics links among stakeholders. Other works, for instance, the articles by Masson, Iosif, MacKerron, and Fernie (2007) and Christopher, Peck, and Towill (2006) also affect the relevance of interaction with suppliers in a competitive market environment with dynamic customer interest. However, these studies are more focused on the general description of the role of supply chains and the difficulties encountered in this process. The works by Cerruti et al. (2016) and Qrunfleh and Tarafdar (2013) review the importance of partnership agreements as a means of achieving business success and potentially high profit. Despite the similar focus of all these articles, they cover different aspects of the same topic. Therefore, the first of the aforementioned studies correspond with the stated sub-topic most accurately and makes it possible to study all the weighty nuances thoroughly enough to obtain a comprehensive picture.

About the importance of supply chains and purchasing algorithms, the study by Christopher et al. (2004) is the most focused and detailed. The authors consider all the features of the fashion market and display algorithms for organizing the ways of communicating with suppliers (Christopher et al., 2004). Graphic information transfer tools simplify data learning and make the whole work more convenient for perception. Also, specific examples are provided for comparing potential strategies for organizing cooperation with partners. As a conclusion, Christopher et al. (2004) note that agility in supply chains may be achieved by avoiding the traditional principles of communication and establishing more dynamic systems-based, for instance, on virtual integration. In the articles by Moon, Lee, and Lai (2017) and Nabass and Abdallah (2018), similar information is given, but these authors pay more attention to driving factors but not to the very significance of purchasing. Interest in factors stimulating an increase in contacts with partners is justified but is not closely related to the area of interest. Therefore, the work of Christopher et al. (2004) matches the stated sub-topic most closely and can be considered a successful study.

Key Drivers for Ensuring Progress in Supply Chains

About the factors that have the greatest positive impact on the progress in supply chains in the fashion industry, all the authors of the articles in question use similar concepts. However, in the works of Moon et al. (2017) and Nabass and Abdallah (2018), the clearest arguments are given. The authors of the former study state that a self-sufficient market structure is one of the most significant components that stimulate business success and effective interaction with suppliers (Moon et al., 2017). Also, long buyer-customer relationships are considered one of the significant aspects of productive sales, which is essential in the context of marketing policies and organizational growth strategies. Nabass and Abdallah (2018) remark that an ability to supply the market with sought-after and varied products characterizes the business as successful, and sales growth largely depends on the quality of communication with suppliers. In both articles, similar terms are cited, and agreement can be traced in the issues related to the external and internal conditions of creating a highly competitive business. However, in other works, similar theories and hypotheses can also be found, although some peculiarities may be observed.

The consequence of the progress and agility of supply chains can be not only customer relationships. As Cerruti et al. (2016) argue, those approaches that promote success in cooperation with suppliers may be β€œboth reactive and proactive,” and using the current opportunities is considered one of the growth mechanisms (p. 924). Masson et al. (2007) offer similar terms and note that timely responses to current market needs may allow the distributors of fashionable products to withstand high competition. The differences in the articles under consideration are insignificant since all the analyzed works belong to the same field, and there are no obvious contradictions. For instance, the theoretical rationales of Qrunfleh and Tarafdar (2013) are very similar to those in other studies since the authors list success variables and mention responsiveness and flexibility as the critical factors of progress. The works by Christopher et al. (2004) and Christopher et al. (2006) are similar in the means of displaying the findings because the authors of both studies resort to visualization as the effective way of presenting theoretical data. In general, there are no significant differences or unjustified hypotheses in the papers reviewed.

Impact of Relevant Organizational Strategies on the Quality of Supply Chains

The relevance of organizational strategies aimed at improving the quality of supply chains in the fashion industry is one of the main topics in all the articles. Qrunfleh and Tarafdar (2013) pay particular attention to this theme and argue that building partnerships as a principle of effective market interaction is a key mechanism for sellers’ and marketers’ business success. The authors point out that customer needs are dynamic, and agile supply chain strategies can be developed through collaboration with large and reliable suppliers (Qrunfleh & Tarafdar, 2013). Christopher et al. (2006) also focus on growth strategies, but the scope of their research includes classifying the mechanisms of promoting successful interaction. Through the analysis of all the sources, it can be argued that all of them deal with the problems of developing relevant marketing and logistics strategies, which corresponds to the stated theme. However, some articles, for instance, by Masson et al. (2007) focus on overcoming the difficulties which stakeholders face in the process of establishing the appropriate ways of interaction. Therefore, concerning the issue of introducing growth strategies, the article by Qrunfleh and Tarafdar (2013) provides the most accurate algorithms.

In other papers, strategies for developing supply chains and ensuring their agility are also given but to a lesser extent. For instance, Moon et al. (2017) argue that the adjustment of customer behavior is a prerequisite for a successful business, which correlates with the topic of interaction with suppliers. Cerruti et al. (2016) state that purchasing strategies promoted by sellers are the significant aspects of the market and form such critical factors as supply and demand, thereby regulating consumer interest. According to Christopher et al. (2004), demand in the field of the fashion industry is one of the main criteria for success and the determinant that allows marketers to promote and control appropriate implementation steps. Consequently, the strategic role of goods supplied as the most demanded is significant. Nabass and Abdallah (2018) consider agile manufacturing strategies in the context of the ability of individual firms and companies to differentiate their products from those of competitors. As a result, the role of deliberate supply chains is essential, and all the hypotheses mentioned contribute to researching the proposed sub-topics and help to find justifications in support of the mechanisms regulating customer demand.

Role of Suppliers in Agile Supply Chains

Each of the resources reviewed offers relevant data regarding maintaining productive interaction with suppliers as important participants in the sales scheme. However, by analyzing the information provided, it is possible to find weaknesses that cannot reflect the topic comprehensively and describe the importance of maintaining partnerships. For instance, Cerruti et al. (2016) note that under market conditions, there are different purchasing strategies, but there is no justification of specific approaches to the organization of the communication system. At the same time, based on the purchasing process scheme, the choice of suppliers is one of the initial stages, which follows the choice of business specifics. About the topic in question, in the fashion industry, raw material suppliers perform one of the key functions. Therefore, the lack of information about this subtopic is a research gap. Christopher et al. (2004) reflect many schematic data on the organization of supply. Nevertheless, most of the charts are focused on sales strategies but not purchasing. Therefore, the topic ideas presented do not answer the role of suppliers to the full extent.

Similar omissions may be observed in other studies taken as a basis. Qrunfleh and Tarafdar (2013) consider the distribution of responsibilities in firms involved in the fashion business but do not justify support of the importance of the staff responsible for organizing supply chains. Masson et al. (2007) mention the importance of productive partnerships, but their reasoning is more focused on the indicators of demand rather than purchasing. However, sales planning is impossible without creating a sustainable system of contacts with suppliers. According to Nabass and Abdallah (2018), the performance of partners who are responsible for producing raw materials for the fashion business influences the time of goods deliveries. At the same time, the agility of the entire system may be achieved not only due to the speed of supplies but also their quality to prevent the loss of credibility among the target market.

The significant weakness and limitation of the study of Moon et al. (2017) is the fact that they review the Dongdaemun fashion market and do not focus on the industry as a whole. Finally, Christopher et al. (2006) who also study this topic agree that purchasing has an important role. Nonetheless, the author’s work is more associated with costs rather than with a relationship system (Christopher et al., 2006). Thus, all the proposed limitations should be taken into account when analyzing the topic of purchasing and its role in the fashion industry.

Conclusion

Based on the reviewed academic articles, carefully thought-out logistics strategies and interaction with suppliers allow for establishing effective purchasing, which is the key to a successful business and customer recognition. The partnership factor plays a significant role in this area, and overcoming obstacles through organizing reliable and competent supply schemes for products helps to withstand strong competition. Regarding disagreements in the reviewed papers, different authors resort to varying methodologies to assess the relevance of specific strategies and assess the importance of supply chains from distinctive perspectives. Today, it is known that productive marketing and logistics principles are the effective mechanisms of creating a sustainable business in the condition of dynamic customer interest. The most important gaps that are not mentioned in the articles under consideration are the lack of information about diversified management approaches to risk evaluation and the promotion of the modern principles of maintaining partnerships.

The answer to the research question may be as follows: effective and agile interaction with suppliers in the fashion industry contributes to maintaining purchases at a sufficiently high level and stimulating stable sales. One of the limitations of this literature review is utilizing some sources that are older than five years. Although they have high practical value, certain strategic decisions described in them may be outdated. Also, the focus solely on supply chains is a limitation since supply and demand variables can also play a significant role in forming market recognition. The overall quality of the reviewed articles is sufficiently high, but some of them reflect more relevant data in the context of the modern fashion industry. The studies conducted in the last few years are more relevant and, thus, more reliable, which is an important condition for academic resources.

References

Cerruti, C., Mena, C., Skipworth, H., & Tavoletti, E. (2016). Characterizing agile supply partnerships in the fashion industry. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 36(8), 923-947. Web.

Christopher, M., Lowson, R., & Peck, H. (2004). Creating agile supply chains in the fashion industry. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 32(8), 367-376. Web.

Christopher, M., Peck, H., & Towill, D. (2006). A taxonomy for selecting global supply chain strategies. The International Journal of Logistics Management, 17(2), 277-287. Web.

Masson, R., Iosif, L., MacKerron, G., & Fernie, J. (2007). Managing complexity in agile global fashion industry supply chains. The International Journal of Logistics Management, 18(2), 238-254. Web.

Moon, K. L. K., Lee, J. Y., & Lai, S. Y. C. (2017). Key drivers of an agile, collaborative fast fashion supply chain: Dongdaemun fashion market. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 21(3), 278-297. Web.

Nabass, E. H., & Abdallah, A. B. (2018). Agile manufacturing and business performance: The indirect effects of operational performance dimensions. Business Process Management Journal.

Qrunfleh, S., & Tarafdar, M. (2013). Lean and agile supply chain strategies and supply chain responsiveness: The role of strategic supplier partnership and postponement. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 18(6), 571-582. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "Agile Supply Chain in the Fashion Industry." July 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/agile-supply-chain-in-the-fashion-industry/.


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IvyPanda. "Agile Supply Chain in the Fashion Industry." July 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/agile-supply-chain-in-the-fashion-industry/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Agile Supply Chain in the Fashion Industry." July 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/agile-supply-chain-in-the-fashion-industry/.

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