29/09/2023 – Artificial Intelligence in the Fashion Supply Chain

The Critical Value of Data Quality and the Role of Digital Forwarders

The supply chain in the fashion industry is undergoing a redesign. At the heart of this change is artificial intelligence (AI), which holds tremendous potential.


Stefan Böhler. © flexport


However, as is often the case, the devil is in the details. The quality of the data upon which AI models are built is critical to their success. This is where the invaluable role of digital forwarders comes into play. What was considered mere records a few years ago is now seen as untapped gold mines. The true value of data emerges from the combination of modern analytical methods and AI as well as Machine Learning. These systems aim to enable machines to conduct deep analyses, develop informed strategies and make independent decisions. By tapping into historical databases and leveraging algorithms, AI systems extract insights and identify patterns. Consequently, they can predict delivery punctuality or pinpoint more efficient transport routes.

However, data quality remains a critical factor. The higher the precision of the data fed into an AI system, the more revolutionary and unexpected the outcomes it can produce.

Data is AI`s backbone. For any AI endeavor to succeed, especially in the fashion supply chain, it requires accurate, timely, and relevant data. This sector, influenced by factors ranging from weather to politics to demand surges, operates in real time. It's not just the collection of data that matters, but its interpretation, storage, and utilization. Minor data inaccuracies can result in major disruptions. Thus, strong data management and cleansing are essential before diving into sophisticated AI tools.

The Digital Forwarder as a Key Partner

A tech-focused digital forwarder offers significant added value. Rather than just acting as an intermediary between the supplier and the customer, they function as a technology ally, aggregating and analyzing data in real-time. Several arguments underscore the relevance of this collaboration:

  • Data Visibility: Digital forwarders offer platforms that monitor each phase, from pickup to delivery.

  • Adaptability: Tech-savvy forwarders can continuously update their systems to reflect these developments.

  • Decision-making Automation: With AI`s support, digital forwarders can make automated real-time decisions.

While AI undoubtedly has transformative potential for the supply chain, the quality and relevance of the data it relies on must meet the highest standards. A digital forwarder serves not merely as a service provider but as a key partner, ensuring companies can access top-quality data to successfully implement their AI-based endeavors.

About the author:

Stefan Böhler has been serving as the General Manager for Germany at Flexport since the summer of 2021. He boasts an extensive career within the logistics sector, accompanied by his attainment of a university degree in Business Informatics. This educational background has armed him with the essential software proficiency demanded for a top-tier role within a technology-driven company like Flexport. Prior to becoming a part of the Flexport team, he occupied various managerial positions at renowned companies such as CEVA Logistics, Kühne + Nagel, and DB Schenker.

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