Difficulties in Managing Small Quantity Export Orders

Those days are gone when factories had only two seasons in a year and were getting bulk order quantity with few styles and with 90 to 120 days lead time.

As per some factory owners, the behaviour of the market is not just quality and time-driven but other factors too affect it. The profile of the order as well as product is also generating problems. This is the reality of the present market. The reason behind such thinking can be justified with following cases. The current order sizes are getting smaller i.e. the average from 50 pieces to 500 pieces and it includes multiple colors and size mixes. Standard lead time reduced up to 45 days to 60 days irrespective of product styling, fabric development to procurement time. Small exporters and domestic garment manufacturers are facing a big crisis in getting their shipment ready on time with small orders. This crisis includes the following:

1. Managing of orders 

As order size is becoming smaller factory is booking more number of orders to fill up their production capacity. In turn, this is actually increasing the load for the factory merchants. Secondly, sampling load at the same time goes up by many folds to maintain standard practices in sample approval. In this stage, the buyer is more active in correcting the fit by changing the styling and measurements multiple time. Some of the small buyers and domestic retailers do not even provide measurements of the styles to follow.

Another source that increases sampling load is the buyer requirement of size set approval in all sizes having seven to ten sizes in the order. Re-submission cycle continues until factory submits right samples.

2. Sourcing of the fabric/Trim and accessories

Fabric development and procurement are the most critical areas in the whole supply chain, said one of the factory owners. Many times required fabric and trims are not easily available in the market. It becomes very difficult to find supplier who would easily agree to develop such small order quantity. Secondly, convincing the supplier to produce it for them within a time limit is a difficult task for a small company. Finally, factory is able to source fabric but with lot of delays and paying extra money.

3. Processing of fabric and trims:

Factories placing small quantity orders for fabric processing find very unmanageable. Processing houses do not entertain small quantity orders. Because small lots (amount of fabric that is processed at a time) hamper their main production and it does not make any difference in their business. After a lot of persuasions, they agree to process the lot but they charge higher than normal and take longer time than the usual. In spite of this, small quantities orders are sometimes handled carelessly. Factories are not finding any alternatives but to depend on processors. A good relationship with mills works to some extent.

When fabric dyeing in mills are not workable because of work volume, time and cost; factories generally take help from local dyers for dying fabric and trim, like tapes, laces etc. From these dyers factory gets dyed material on time and lower cost but they compromise with the fabric dyeing quality. Possibilities are there to get material with less color fixation, high-level color bleeding, patchy dyeing, improper shade matching and many more quality related issues. Re-dyeing process here continues three to five times which may cause fabric damage. This again increases procurement time.

4. Production:

Running small orders in the sewing line breaks the smooth flow of the production. A good amount of time is wasted in setting the line.

Costing of the product:

Costing of the garment is higher for the small orders than the medium and large size orders. Factors that directly affected cost parameters are
  • For each material being sourced have to pay the higher price as the quantity purchased falls in sampling category.
  • For product development of fabrics or trims, costs are higher than normal purchases.
  • When multi-fabric and variety of trim are included for a style sourcing cost goes up.
  • Higher load in sampling and delay in production start cause overtime working which in turn increases the overhead.
  • In some cases, the required quantity of fabric is not sufficient for the processing load. In that case the factory has to purchase extra amount of the fabric that again raise the product costing.
  • Process loss is higher than a normal size order and multiple processes make it more prominent, which add on to total product costing.
This can be taken as a great opportunity for the factories who are dealing with small orders to increase their profit. This is only possible if factories learn to manage their orders in a better fashion

Also Read: How to stop missing of garments in production processes?

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