The fashion industry is rapidly adopting cloud-based solutions to optimize inventory management and enable real-time visibility across their supply chains. Cloud platforms allow fashion brands to efficiently pool inventory in centralized warehouses and make it accessible across all sales channels. This shared inventory model is transforming traditional siloed practices and enabling greater agility and sustainability.  

Benefits of a Shared Inventory Approach

Increased Efficiency and Cost Savings

By aggregating inventory in shared warehouses, brands can significantly reduce overhead costs associated with operating many disjointed warehouses. The cloud-based architecture provides real-time visibility into available stock levels, allowing brands to spot and prevent out-of-stocks as well as overstocks. This leads to lower inventory costs and waste.

Omnichannel Fulfillment

A shared inventory enables unified order orchestration and optimized fulfillment across all sales channels – online stores, brick-and-mortar outlets, marketplaces, etc. When a customer purchases an item, it is deducted from the central stock allowing efficient allocation and delivery. This provides a seamless omnichannel experience.

Improved Sustainability  

Centralized inventory lowers waste generation compared to fragmented warehouses with duplicative stocks. The cloud-based tools provide analytics on optimum stock levels, reducing overproduction. Shared storage and deliveries also lead to lower carbon emissions.  

Enhanced Collaboration

The connected system allows brands to collaborate with suppliers, logistics partners, wholesalers, and other stakeholders to align inventory planning. This facilitates just-in-time production and lean operations across the extended supply chain. 

Key Enablers of Shared Inventory

Cloud-based WMS

Cloud-based Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) enable centralized visibility and movement of inventory across multiple locations. Key capabilities include inventory tracking, order orchestration, wave planning, reporting, and analytics.

Unified Commerce Platforms

These SaaS platforms provide a single view of inventory spanning warehouses, stores, and digital channels. Omnichannel order management is streamlined through inventory availability data.

EDI Integration

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) seamlessly connects the brand’s ERP with partner ERPs. This allows real-time inventory updates enabling collaboration.

RFID for Visibility

Radio Frequency Identification tags on inventory provide real-time information on inventory location and movement within the warehouses, enhancing tracking.

Why Launch a Fashion Brand?

Launching an online fashion brand offers low barriers to entry and the ability to reach a global audience. The ecommerce model provides versatility to test new product lines without significant upfront inventory investments. 

Digital marketing channels like social media and influencers allow emerging brands to build awareness rapidly. Access to on-demand manufacturing through sourcing partners enables greater speed and flexibility. 

Overall, the digital-first nature of an online fashion brand permits greater innovation, customization to consumer needs, and discovery by target customers. With minimal overhead costs compared to physical retail, a lean online fashion brand can identify product-market fit and scale while controlling expenses. The direct-to-consumer approach yields higher margins and ownership of customer relationships.

The Future with Shared Inventory

As fashion brands aim for agility and sustainability, shared inventory enabled by cloud-based solutions will be a crucial strategy. While initial investments are required, long-term benefits include optimized capital efficiency, costs, and omnichannel customer experience. With capabilities improving via emerging technologies like IoT and AI, shared inventory will continue its rise.