How Supply Chain Issues Will Affect the Apparel Industry in 2022

As supply chain woes persist into 2022, apparel brands must strategize on how to navigate the potentially rough waters ahead.

It's been two years since the initial days of the pandemic, yet its lingering grip on the global supply chain remains firm. Issues such as shipping backlogs, dwindling storage space, and continuously rising transportation costs have affected brands across all industries who are now being backed into a corner, fighting to maintain profitability.

For the apparel industry, the current situation is especially dire. Rampant size sampling during last year’s peak shopping season has resulted in a punishing spike in return rates in Q1, costing apparel brands millions of dollars in lost profits.

With high levels of uncertainty surrounding both the global supply chain and the apparel industry as a whole, how is your brand planning to navigate the potentially rough waters ahead?

The All-Encompassing Effects of Supply Chain Woes

A shopper surprised by the increase in prices for apparel caused by supply chain issues

Rising Prices, Dwindling Demand: Increased shipping and inventory costs, upcoming rate hikes, and some of the highest inflation numbers in decades have forced many brands to pass the cost of doing business onto their shoppers.

Of course, brands are not the only ones feeling the economic pinch, as shoppers have also been ambushed on all fronts by current economic conditions. As the cost of living continues to rise and wages struggle to keep up, demand for new apparel has grown weaker in 2022.

This effect has been amplified by the recent rise of conscious consumerism and the booming secondhand clothing market. Shoppers in 2022 are feeling less and less inclined to replenish their wardrobes with the newest clothing every season.

Cargo ships backlogged at a port due to supply chain issues

Floating Warehouses: While demand for new apparel has certainly cooled off, there are still opportunities to be had as shoppers rework their wardrobes to align with growing social freedoms. However, brands trapped in the current supply chain vortex may encounter difficulty bringing these shoppers seasonal apparel. The spring season is less than a week away, yet a significant amount of seasonal apparel remains trapped on the floating warehouses we used to call container ships.

With over 100 container ships currently standing by in the waters near the Port of Long Beach (a major gateway for US-Asian trade), it's abundantly clear that imports are still moving at a snail's pace. By the time these ships eventually deliver their cargo, shoppers will have likely become disinterested, leaving brands to take significant losses on these products.

A shopper walking down a street holding multiple bags of clothing

Loyalty Loyalty Loyalty: While we're on the topic of shoppers becoming disinterested, supply chain woes have also significantly affected brand loyalty.  According to a 2021 study conducted by Cotton Incorporated, nearly half (47 percent) of all shoppers say they’re less loyal to brands than they were just a couple of years ago. With mass stock-outs continuing to impact both brick-and-mortar and eCommerce shops, shoppers have shown that they are not willing to wait for products to hit the shelves again and will take their business elsewhere if need be.

How Apparel Brands Can Mitigate These Effects With WAIR

WAIR's insights dashboard

During these times of increasing uncertainty, brands must ensure that existing inventory is distributed in the most profitable way possible. This will be difficult to achieve, however, with eCommerce return rates continuing to rise in Q2. Luckily, WAIR has the solution for one of the most prevalent reasons why shoppers return products online, size confusion.

WAIR’s Fit Advisor sizing solution eliminates the issue of size confusion for eCommerce apparel brands. Built atop the world’s largest and fastest-growing database of 3D body scans, Fit Advisor can predict the body dimensions of any shopper and leverage this data to recommend them their best-fitting size. While Fit Advisor’s sizing accuracy is second to none, shoppers won’t need a degree from MIT to use the solution effectively. Fit Advisor only needs basic body information from shoppers (such as height, weight, and age) to provide them with a personalized and accurate size recommendation. On the back end, Fit Advisor also accounts for the designer’s intended fit, ultimately providing a recommendation that both the shopper and brand can feel confident with.

The benefits of WAIR don't stop there. As shoppers use Fit Advisor to order their best-fitting sizes, WAIR captures their unique body dimensions providing apparel brands with increased clarity on who their shoppers really are. WAIR also pairs this body data with the shopper's unique journey, helping brands reveal opportunities for efficiency gains in inventory management, product design, targeted marketing, and so much more.

But don’t just take our word for it, ask our brand partners Rhone, Mac Duggal, CUTS Clothing, and many more who not only have seen incredible performance numbers with WAIR but also leveraged the body data captured from Fit Advisor to shape their eCommerce strategies.

Final Words

Adaptability will be the trait that defines successful apparel brands in 2022. As global uncertainties persist and the realities of keeping one’s business profitable come to light, brands will need to be nimble in their approach to both brick-and-mortar commerce and eCommerce. Solutions that help brands maintain or improve profitability will be given the utmost priority by executives in 2022. Learn how WAIR can help your brand successfully navigate the potentially rough waters ahead.

Eager to learn how WAIR can transform your eCommerce brand through sizing? Schedule a demo here, and be sure to follow us on TwitterInstagram , LinkedIn, and Facebook for all your fashion content needs!

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