In a global market generating more than $300 billion annually (a figure poised to grow dramatically over the next few years), profitability for savvy apparel companies seems like a sure thing. Not necessarily - this same market also is characterised by short lifecycle fashions, fickle demand, whimsical consumers, multiple trading partners, the strains of cross-border trade and a stagnant economy. And the apparel industry has experienced deflation, making cost reduction not just a continuing theme but a key to survival, forcing all players to rethink their supply chain.