What are the Major Challenges in Apparel and Textile Sourcing?

Few Things that Make the Process of Sourcing Clothes Quite Difficult

In a previous post, we talked about how to find a custom clothing manufacturer for your business. It may sound simple to find one but the reality though, is that the clothing manufacturing business has one of the most complex supply chains in the world.

Take the Bangladesh clothing manufacturing industry for example. Even though the country remains the second biggest clothing manufacturing industry, the problems of being a developing country make each part of the apparel supply chain very complicated. Here is a graph to show you the many ways to source:

Even when it comes to sourcing, the word has different meanings when it comes to a clothing line and manufacturer. For a private label clothing brand, sourcing is about finding the right supplier; while, for custom clothing manufacturers, it is the process of finding the perfect raw materials. For wholesale clothing suppliers on the other hand, it means finding the most quantity of clothes for the lowest price.

As easy as it may sound, apparel sourcing isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and here are some major challenges concerning sourcing.

1. Balancing Quantity and Cost

When it comes to this particular business, price is something that is major sticking point.

The difficulty here is to find the right clothing factory for your specifications, who is willing to agree to your target of costing. This in turn means that, you’ll have to set a suitable budget for your amount of product while also keeping your company’s capability in mind.

Minimum order quantity or MOQ plays a vital role in sourcing. For sourcing of fabric and trims there is always a MOQ which directly affects the cost. Every fabric supplier requires a certain MOQ to produce the fabric economically; otherwise the cost of running the production is higher if production is below MOQ. If a supplier or a manufacturer places the order of raw materials below MOQ then generally cost will be more for that.

Hence, throughout the supply chain MOQ is maintained in order to achieve the appropriate cost of production.

Governmental regulations can enhance or reduce the ease of doing business. So, prior to making any sourcing decisions, it is necessary that all trade incentives or restrictions are evaluated carefully. Here’s where compliance plays a vital role in sourcing. The biggest challenge, nonetheless, is to balance all these aspects while sourcing.

A business is a two way street, it’s not only you who sets the conditions in the business environment. This is where more problems arise. Both the buyer and supplier must agree to each other’s terms and conditions.

2. Manufacturing Lead Time

Lead time should be one of the biggest factors when choosing a manufacturer. You want your time to market to be perfects. Delays of even a day or two can lead to losses that you never thought of in the first place.

Thus, another important aspect in sourcing is the time to supply goods, or the lead time. If your competitor has product available more quickly than yours, there are high chances of losing your market share and expected revenues. Therefore, choosing a receptive supplier who is able to accommodate changes is what you should opt for.

The sampling phase itself is very time consuming and might take 30-60 days worth of lead time. In this process, the merchandiser needs to decide the supplier of the fabric on the basis of type of fabric and time in hand to complete the order. If fabric is sourced from another country, then that extra time needs to be kept in mind as well.

3. Maintaining Product Quality

Sourcing is an effective way to do business but sometimes fabric and trims suppliers cannot meet the quality parameters, which will make it troublesome for the manufacturer to execute the order properly.

So, it is necessary to carry out set in place effective quality assurance methods to eliminate any flaws in the supply chain. If raw materials are flawed, it can make entire production lines inefficient and increase defect rates in the finished goods.

Bad quality products can often lead to large returns from customers which in turn removes the company from everyone’s good books. Besides, production reruns increase costs and this can be a reason for the downfall of your company.

4. Logistics and Infrastructure

Your hard work will all go in vain if your product doesn’t reach the buyer in time. Therefore, it is important to have a reliable transportation system that’ll not only ensure your product’s safety but also deliver your products on time. In this case, seasonal fluctuations and weather should be taken into consideration.

Due to increasing technological standards, it is best if the sourcing agent is tech-savvy. To make the most out of your business, technology can aid you in the most efficient way possible. Late, missing or inaccurate documents can cause delays of customs clearance and, ultimately, delivery to destination. So, to avoid the aforementioned issues, sourcing must be done in a systematic and well-planned manner.

This is where you need a quick mind in order for the sourcing to be successful. The sourcing agent must have the skill of implementing alternate plans quickly in case the primary plan or transportation lane becomes unavailable. Lack of holistic logistics knowledge in low-cost developing countries would trouble any procurement executive when sourcing globally.

There are other challenges that aren’t as profound but can cause a problem. Location and the language for example. A typical Bangladesh garment factory sales executive will have a problem when it comes to spoken English and it’s easy to get lost in translation.

It is almost impossible to overcome all the challenges thrown to you by this complex industry especially if you’re alone or just starting out. However, by learning about these problems that are to come your way, it is feasible to think that you’ll be able to avoid them and build your way to a successful business! Use this checklist when you’re about to start so you don’t miss any steps in the clothing manufacturing process.

Questions to ask a custom clothing manufacturer

Common Questions to Ask a Custom Clothing Manufacturer

NewThread is here to help you with all these challenges so that you can easily cross the murky waters of this industry. Apparel sourcing doesn’t have to be hard and working with us will ensure you adapt to situations swiftly. Shoot us an email or drop in a request for a price quote if your ideas are ready.


  • Bangladesh Apparel Manufacturers




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