September 16, 2021

What’s the state of on-demand production, Brian Rainey?

5 min read

Gooten is a global production and logistics company headquartered in New York and specialized in producing and customizing different product categories including fashion. Brian Rainey, CEO of Gooten, a privately owned company founded in 2015, explained how the company operates.

What are the advantages of on-demand production?
For the fashion industry specifically, there are many reasons why on-demand manufacturing is an appealing alternative or supplement to traditional wholesale. On-demand is more sustainable and eco-friendly because it eliminates unnecessary production, harmful waste and useless costs. Businesses can adapt to trends quicker with lower risk because no costly order minimums are required. Brands can quickly mock up designs and add the product to their online store without worrying about piles of unsold inventory. For fashion brands wanting to offer more unique, customized experiences, they must turn to on-demand. Advancements in on-demand technology have made it much easier to create personalized products to meet consumer demand.
Another advantage is streamline operations. With on-demand manufacturing, brands can outsource their supply chain solutions, allowing them to concentrate less on logistics and focus on what they do best–designing, marketing and selling.

Brands can also be better prepared for unexpected disruptions. One of the benefits of on-demand manufacturing that is unique to Gooten is the ability to diversify your suppliers. During the height of Covid-19 when supply chains were disrupted across all industries, we were able to ship 95% of orders on time with a 98% error-free rate because we carry many product SKUs in more than one facility. This means that if one location closes, we can seamlessly move order fulfillment to another facility if disruptions occur.

What are on-demand production’s weak points?
Some may argue that on-demand manufacturing results in a higher cost per unit price because orders are not produced at economies of scale. However, the risk with bulk inventory from traditional manufacturing is that brands may have to markdown or absorb items at the end of the season when trends change and styles have shifted, lowering their profit margin. Because on-demand produces an item when it is ordered, that item has a consistent margin throughout the year. This means companies will know exactly what their profit will be for each unit sold and can better plan and manage their overall cash flow.

For many fashion brands, we recommend the on-demand model be used in conjunction with traditional manufacturing for bulk products that sell all year round, and then utilize on-demand for short-term collaborations and innovative, trending designs. Because on-demand doesn’t require a large amount of startup capital, it is a low-risk method that can lead to high returns.

Gooten website

Gooten website

Are minimum production quantities required? How can a company plan a minimum timing required from order to delivery?
No minimum production quantities are required. The core benefit of the on-demand model is that products are produced when ordered. For businesses expecting large quantities of orders, our team requests monthly sales forecasts so that we can conduct the proper capacity planning needs to prevent stockouts. Our team automatically handles typical holiday shifts in demand, however, so it never hurts to give us a heads up if you’re expecting thousands of orders to suddenly be made. If you’re able to foresee a spike like that and can let us know ahead of time, there are a few extra precautions we can take with our manufacturing partners to ensure the best possible results once those orders start coming in.

Can items be personalized or customized? How?
Of course! That’s one of the key benefits of on-demand.
At Gooten, we’ve simplified and automated the back-end fulfillment process of customized products, saving our merchant partners countless hours of manually entering order information. Our integration significantly reduces the possibility of human error, so that the end customer receives the right order at the right place.

A T-shirt produced through the Gooten on-demand manufacturing network

A T-shirt produced through the Gooten on-demand manufacturing network

You said that on-demand production is more sustainable than mass production. Why?
Because brands must estimate consumer demand for a product, many will end up with loads of unsold inventory at the end of a season. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 87% of the textile materials for clothing end up in a landfill or are incinerated. However, because on-demand manufacturing allows companies to produce only what consumers order, it eliminates unnecessary production and harmful waste–saving both the designer’s bottom line and the environment. On-demand is one of the key aspects of the burgeoning circularity movement, which urges fashion brands to design and produce apparel with purpose and have no significant waste. Additionally, at Gooten we’ve focused on localizing production and shipping so that orders are automatically routed closer to the end customer, saving money and travel time.

Photo: Courtesy Source White Label MFG

On demand printing facility

Photo: Courtesy Source White Label MFG

On demand printing facility

What’s the specific concept of Gooten?
Gooten is inspired by Johannes Gutenberg’s revolutionary invention, the printing press. Just like Gutenberg’s invention facilitated the growth of information output, we founded Gooten to solve similar challenges for the online commerce industry. Through our expertise in technology and our global supply chain network, Gooten has completely reimagined the way merchandise is created and delivered to consumers around the world–faster, more cost-effectively, while leading the industry in quality. Since our birth we have processed and shipped over four million items with less than a 2% error rate and 95% ship-on-time rate. Gooten manufactured and fulfilled 2.1 million orders in 2020. The Gooten Network is a fully integrated global supply chain of over 45 selected manufacturers in more than 65 locations, with over 70% of production in the United States.

In which apparel segments does Gooten operate? Can you mention any clients?
We have over 130 product lines in more than 15,000 variants offering everything in popular categories like apparel, wall art and home decor to more niche products such as baby crib sheets, yoga mats and puzzles. Specifically, our apparel category spans from everyday staples like T-shirts, hoodies, pants, and sweatshirts to more niche accessories such as baby beanies, headbands, bandanas and scarves.

Gooten is working with many up-and-coming brands. Among its partners there is One Live, an e-commerce agency that works in the sports, music and entertainment space. We teamed up with it in 2019 and provided a scalable and powerful print-on-demand technology platform for over 1,200 Shopify Plus merch stores, including LA Lakers, Kiss, Willie Nelson, and Zac Brown Band.

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