Mimaki hosted a webinar titled ‘Textile and Apparel Market’, which featured advice for textile printers to seize opportunities, using e-commerce, and how businesses are dealing with the challenges in adapting to Covid-19.
– Andrea Lund, Sales Manager Technodeco at Ibena Textilewerke GmbH.
– Mitesh Patel, sales and development manager at Pongs Technical Textiles.
– Sebastian Tens, head of sales at Premier Digital Textiles Ltd.
Additionally, Armando Mota da Silva, COO at Digidelta International, and Marco Vanzini, sales director at Mimaki Bompan Textile were available for a discussion on customer adaptation for Covid-19, as well as Robert Steijn, founder/CEO at Colourama SP.Z.O.O for customer insights.
Challenges and adapting
Lund spoke of revenue loss: some days there had been no orders, with the need to cut costs. ‘The face mask hype then took off, but another challenge was to get the right certification.’
Tens agreed with the revenue loss, but what followed was the opportunity for face mask and gown production. The company also grew its online presence with webinars and training.
Patel said that a challenge was working with a smaller team, alongside customers closing down temporarily, but there was also a demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). ‘We have many different fabrics, and had stock to work with. We adapted as a team.’
Sectors with an increase in demand
‘We saw a decline in leisure and tourism, but with web-to-print and e-commerce, it has been busy, especially with personalisation,’ said Patel.
Tens said interior design with anti-bacterial finishing has been a growth area while Lund said companies who use e-commerce have witnessed much success, as well as interior design, because many people are staying at home.
Patel discussed materials with safety properties, namely cottons and polyesters suitable for printing and medical grades, ‘The need for PPE is not going anywhere anytime soon. My company is currently doing trials for coatings’
Tens added that there have been many requests for pigment printing, but the main focus is dye-sub printing. Patel also mentioned recycled and/or organic fabrics, with a natural look and feel, as well as the importance of eco-sustainability as trends.
Concerns over China’s supply chain
Patel said that very few items from his company come from China, ‘We mostly buy from India and Pakistan, which have not been affected.’ Tens mentioned that his company’s main suppliers are from Europe, while Lund said that many of her customers usually rely on China’s supply chain.
Advice for textile printers to seize opportunities
Lund advised printers to ‘be fast and flexible’. Tens said to ‘look hard at your strengths, at what went well and what did not, and sell your services, not just your product.’ Patel said: ‘Make good use of e-commerce, it will keep your business afloat and your machines running, as well as retain jobs.’
How has Covid-19 affected the market, and textile customers?
Da Silva said he has witnessed a suspension of orders and that these have been tough times, with the need to adapt quickly.
‘There have been different impacts on different markets,’ said Vanzini. ‘Many jumped into the medical protection market, which has maintained activity, workflow and cashflow, but this cannot last forever – we need new ideas. There is also a trend towards local supply, we cannot rely on China the way we used to. We must listen to the market, and be organised and ready to make changes to old business models.’
How have customers adapted?
‘Many customers have had clever ideas. Many are always making new products, said Vanzini, ‘Its about how fast they adapt. Digitalisation used to be about being faster, but now it’s also about finding new propositions and developments. I’ve seen this with my customers.’
Da Silva agreed, and spoke briefly on the the importance of understanding consumers and customers.
Polls that were conducted indicated the following:
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