Inventory Management in Textile and Apparel Industry

Inventory Management in Textile and Apparel Industry

Shubham Anil Jain
Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited
Bangalore, India


It is seen that, from the raw materials sourcing to the textile and garment manufacturers to the quality assurance officer and finally to the end customer, every item of clothing passes through many levels hands. So, clothing inventory management encompasses all these stops (and more). Inventory management is nothing but the process of tracking, managing, and maintaining an optimal inventory level. There are many inventory management software for the apparel industry which can tracks clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories and related items as they move between locations. Initially all these steps were once done manually, the information tracked by hand in paper spreadsheets and logs. But due to industrialization, today, real-time inventory automation improves accuracy and saves time. Business owners and experts now have inventory management software that lets them answer quickly to fashion trends and other changes in market demands and conditions.

Inventory Management in textile

Need of Inventory Management in Textile Industry:

1. Today’s textile manufacturers, clothing brands, fast fashion retailers and apparel companies try to manage inventory between physical stores and ecommerce platforms. Fashion retailers need to unload items quickly, that are selling very well in the market. They need to buy the items that will be in demand for next month or even next week.

2. Even though, the price of everything whether it is raw materials or retail space is growing fast. Anyone who deals with apparel, either from big luxury brands or small fashion companies, must do everything they can to make operations more efficient and smooth.

3. Big MNC companies can better align their supply chains with world markets by minimizing their inventory allocation. Good stock allocation strategies help them avoid stocking too much (or too little) for their online and real-world stores.

4. In complicated retail business stock is spread across multiple warehouses, stores and various ecommerce channels. However, retailers want to avoid empty shelves because of little stock. They also need to avoid clumsy back rooms due to too much stock.

5. For proper inventory allocation, it requires determining the right service levels per location and managing inventory to increase the sell-through rate and reduce waste. One has to consider local customer demand at every location and estimate the optimal level of inventory to push to each outlet.

6. Some customer orders need to be fulfilled very urgently. Others aren’t as important and urgent. Due to inventory management, warehouse managers can prioritize orders based on when they need to ship, as well as by customer point of view.

7. Apart from avoiding overstocks and stock outs by tracking inventory levels, clothing inventory management is used to do many things, which includes:

  • Track various sales processes
  • Track different orders
  • Manage deliveries
  • Make work orders and bills of materials
  • Manage all the inventory data
  • Spend minimum money on inventory

Key Aspects of Inventory Management:
The following 5 top features of inventory management will definitely enhance retailers to understand the most important processes to streamline stock control.

1. Trace the activity:
As a business holder, one should know about any movement in the stock. From any product transfers to inventory losses, for e.g. testers, damaged goods or missing products, everything must be highlighted, so when the right time comes, one will be on top of things instead of being overwhelmed by irregularities. In addition to those, it’s extremely important to have detailed inventory management reports organized in one place.

2. Regular counts:
Managing the inventory is one of the basic inventory management tasks. Without keeping daily track of the inventory status, even the most advanced reports and documents won’t help. Daily and regular counts are important part of any organized retail business routine and these must be accurate to maintain stock visibility. For retailers that are sharp to use technology, this can be streamlined with effective inventory control, meaning one don’t physically have to count every item they have in storage, providing one are confident that inventory management reporting is accurate.

3. Control out-of-stock products:
With the help of the detailed reports, one will be able to know exactly which products are not there, and which are sold the most in the market. So when it’s need to reorder – one can know exactly what to order and when. As well as helping to avoid running out of stock, it means one can manage smoothly to remove out-of-stocks from e-commerce platforms so one don’t want sell products that are not available.

4. Transparent description:
A major part of inventory management involves being organized and clear with everything, so one should keep clear and informative descriptions of the products such as names, sizes, colors, wholesaler name etc. Without this detailed information, it is not possible to fully understand the reports and see the total picture. Make clear that everything is labelled or marked, so we know what a product is at a quick glance.

5. Standardized work environment:
A clean, proper spacious and neat work environment might save you a lot of time trying to search for products or items. It is also found that, such a work environment may raise the effectiveness of you and your employees. If the storage or warehousing space isn’t already organized, it is beneficial investing time to improve inventory management.

Inventory Management Techniques in Textile and Apparel Industry:

1. The Pull Strategy:
Basically, in this strategy a brand is manufacturing inventory based on clear demand from customers. Here, essentially customers are ‘pulling’ product and items from the brand, creating a two-way path of supply and demand. Whenever customers order a product, the brand will supply it. This strategy is good for all brands looking to keep inventory costs minimum. However, if consumer demand and preferences changes rapidly, there can be issue in adjusting output levels to keep up, which results in stocking out.

2. The Push Strategy:
When a brand is pushing out products based on calculated or forecasted demand, it is called push strategy. Instead of waiting for a consumer to ask for a product such as in the pull model, brands exploiting the push strategy would create as many products as they think customers will demand and orders and then wait for the requests to come in. In the push strategy, it’s possible to keep operating costs minimum because they are creating more products at one time, but there is also more risk involved compared to the pull strategy.

3. The Just In Time Strategy:
This is very good inventory management model, is when products are created based on a demand schedule that will deliver the final product to a consumer right when they orders it. Elements from both the push and the pull strategy are noticed in the JIT model as there is a need for both outspoken demand from customers as well as a correct knowledge of market forecasting to succeed. The JIT strategy depends on manufacturers having raw materials available to them, but not actually creating products until the demand comes in, which can keep overhead costs minimum but may create delays in delivering the end products to consumers.

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To conclude, effective and smooth inventory management is something that can help and serve as a strong boost to any business and organizations, not just clothing and apparel sector. Learning how to use various technologies for the advancement and developing a powerful strategy can reduce the potential for errors and delays, and hence play a key role in the overall growth of the business from both customer and profile point of view.


  3. Taplip, Ian M, 2006, Restructuring and Reconfiguration: The EU Textile & Clothing Industry Adapts a Change, Business Review, volume 18, pp. 172-186.
  4. Management of Inventories in Textile Industry: A Cross Country Research Review, Dr. Mohammad Shafi, Associate Professor, Department of Business & Financial Studies

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