By Dr. S N Modani 

Managing Director and CEO of Sangam India Ltd.

India, the world’s fifth-largest export market of textiles spans across the entire apparel, home, and technical product lines, making it a key player in the global textile landscape that accounts for approximately 8% of the trillion-dollar global market. Living in the age where there is collaborative global sentiment towards de-linking supplier relationships from China, Indian players can and should develop a differentiated marketing strategy that emphasizes quality over quantity.

The textile industry in India is one of the country’s oldest, dating back many centuries. The industry is highly diverse, ranging from hand-spun and hand-woven textile materials on one end of the scale to capital-intensive advanced mills on another. India’s textile sector has the capacity to create a wide range of products for various market segments, both domestically and internationally.

Some of these key actions may benefit India’s textile industry:

  1. Build supply chains that are versatile

India has the potential to develop flexible procedures based on short time frames and asset-light business strategies. Textile and apparel firms are encouraged to expand their integrations and collaborations in order to improve their supply chains stability and sustainability. It will necessitate a rethink of the production process, inventory planning & platforming, regional vendor clustering and worker up skilling.  Also the export selections should be centered on in-house talent, operational cost and the capacity to connect to new manufacturer and supplier ecosystems.

  1. Reconstruction of the cost

Indian players should contemplate on “variabilize” costs via restructuring manpower and maintenance contracts as well as exploring shared fixed asset resources across organizations to gain a significant cost advantage over China. Moreover, increasing manufacturing yield and reducing waste will be critical. Last but not the least, companies will have to improve procurement efficiencies, particularly in commodity raw material procurement by trying to leverage on specification optimization, cost unbundling and index-driven inter-vendor pricing. With this strategy manufacturers may be able to save 10% to 15% of overall costs with the implemention of these changes.

  1. Set the right product-to-geography ratio

By analyzing local consumption markets, the overall import base, potential growth along with India and China’s relative performance in export volumes and growth; Indian players must target the right product range for each geography. India, for instance, could concentrate on knitwear exports to Western Europe and woven apparel exports to the United States and the United Kingdom.

  1. From making plans to sales, embrace smart manufacturing and automation

Despite the fact that India’s textile industry slightly lacks in terms of automation, the time has come to implement digitization throughout the entire value chain. To sharpen design collections, strategic use of AI-enabled analytics is key. Manufacturing should look into IoT-based real-time monitoring tools, proactive maintenance, robotics enabled admin operations and fully automated guided vehicles for transporting goods. AI-based predictive lead scoring, smart B2B sales management techniques for generating and being able to manage prospects, digital shops, 3d virtual sampling, and involvement on digital B2B platforms for consumer engagement. The focus should also be on digital transactions that should be seamlessly incorporated in sales and customer engagement. It is ideal for the Indian textile ecosystem to lay down a futuristic vision around automation and make a strategic plan for implementing technology & automation.

  1. Holding on to sustainability

Indian players should focus their sales and marketing campaigns on sustainability in order to differentiate themselves from other countries and attract global retailers and customers as they seek to diversify. Adopting sustainable solutions while equally concentrating on product authenticity with minimal wastage is essential. Sustainability entails taking only those resources from the earth that are easily renewable while causing no harm to the environment. This enables the current generation’s needs to be met without jeopardizing future generations’ potential needs. Indian textile companies need to highlight their sustainability initiatives like installation of Solar Panels, ETPs (Effluent treatment plant) and STPs (Sewage treatment plant) to reduce industrial water contamination and reclaim the water for favorable purposes, usage of recycled materials,etc.

Indian players must develop a distinct value proposition and prioritize quality over quantity; have much more fully functioning and innovative designs and maintain sustainability and traceability throughout the supply chain. Considering high interest rates and a more difficult industrial relations environment, India currently has limited competitiveness in the high volume-low value addition segments of the market. As a result, greater value addition, relatively high service levels and broader customisation requirements but lower volume businesses are better suited for India. The main focus on such target markets will assist India in regaining its share of the world textile market, propelling the nation to become the second-largest export market after other countries within the next four to five years.