Supply Chain Agility is Key for FIFA Sportswear Brands

Football is one of the few sports that is played and appreciated across the globe, and its multibillion dollar jersey industry is propelled by the worldwide fan base. Although team kits (jersey’s and other football apparel) are sold and remain popular throughout the year, every quadrennial the World Cup rears its profitable head boosting sportswear sales an estimated 8% throughout the tournament’s duration – and have reportedly reaped +30% in sales of soccer balls/footballs in past tournaments.

Part of the football kit’s success is that there is no focus audience or customer core, as team jersey’s and apparel are worn by fans of all ages and demographics. This year, some teams have different versions of the kits to reach a broader range of fans; such as England, who is offering two kits at different price points during this year’s tournament. The market for team jersey’s does not only lie within the team’s country – in countries such as Canada and the United States, football fans supporting their national teams from abroad, broadening each nation’s pride and jersey industry beyond their own boarders. The global reach of the football jersey industry is tell-tale of the sport’s popularity, as well as the immense pressure put on the sportswear brands: it is estimated that the finalist teams will be inundated with the demand for 10 million replica shirts to be distributed worldwide.

Most of the big name sports brands sponsor multiple countries during the tournament, requiring individual planning and production silos for each team in order to deliver the players’ kits. The fabrics and other materials that will be used for the players’ kits have to be tested and proven to withstand the wear and tear the kits will endure on the pitch. Sophisticated technology, such as Product Lifecycle Management and Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems, provide these sportswear brands with the ability to manage each team silo throughout production and distribution. Lab dips can be performed to ensure the quality of the fabric, and every aspect of its durability can be tracked and managed throughout pre-production. Once a team design is approved, a PLM system moves the sample along its lifecycle into production, ensuring all points of testing and management are met.

From repurposing designs to ordering multiple sample garments, football sportswear brands must work closely and effectively with all partners in order to deliver the utmost quality that the players and fans expect of the brand. Effective tracking of the design and pre-production process for each team’s kits is essential. By integrating and taking advantage of software such as PLM and SCM, sportswear brands are able to succeed and meet fans and football player’s expectations during the busiest (and best) time on the international football stage.