Technology is taking a front seat in communication between clothing brands and suppliers, according to analytics firm, GlobalData.

“With COVID-19 putting a stop to all non-essential travel, buyers are now having to rethink how to work with manufacturers on orders and product design,” GlobalData apparel correspondent, Michelle Russell said.

UK clothing and homewares retailer Next is looking at a number of different scenarios to make up for the lack of face-to-face contact with its suppliers, including video conferencing. Previously teams travelled to factories to work on new product development but are now asking manufacturers to send samples over. Video conferencing, with one sample at each end, is helping to recreate the process.

The dynamic of sourcing and machinery trade shows is also changing, with organisers looking at virtual and other digital alternatives as the pandemic forces the cancellation of events.

According to Russell, companies have to find new ways of staying in touch they may not have considered previously. Having the right technology in place to enable a company to keep communication flowing across its supply chain has become imperative if they want to remain operational.

“Next said it will come out of the process with the ability to communicate with potentially more manufacturers than it was previously, and this may be the case for many retailers and brands. They will inevitably find more efficient and cost-effective ways of working once this pandemic is over and normal business is resumed,” Russell said.