HSBC's new invitation-only apparel trade platform Serai is partnering with Coats Digital and Res.Q to provide companies across the apparel industry with access to their inter-connected digital solutions.

Coats Digital is the software business of industrial thread maker Coats, while Res.Q is a fast-growing suite of solutions seeded by Sri Lanka's Hirdaramani Investments and focused on digitising the shop floor to address specific pain points not catered to by traditional ERP.

Their tools will not only help provide real-time data and end-to-end transparency across the apparel supply chain, but will also boost efficiencies leading to cost savings, as well as reducing the reliance on face-to-face contact.

"The apparel industry has been devastated by knock-on effects of Covid-19 and requires a reset," says Serai CEO Vivek Ramachandran.

"The industry must rebuild relationships and respond to new demand patterns that will emerge as part of the new normal. This will require retailers, brands, manufacturers and suppliers to increase their digital engagement, make new connections, share more information, and systematically address pockets of inefficiency across the supply chain."

Launched as a beta version at the end of last year, Hong Kong based Serai is a new subsidiary of trade bank HSBC. The B2B platform enables buyers and suppliers to find new partners. Suppliers can display their products, sustainability efforts and technical capabilities and connect with new buyers; while buyers can search, find and connect with new suppliers that meet their specific needs. 

Serai is also expanding the platform – which is where the Coats and Res.Q. collaboration comes in, with an integrated solution expected before the end of the year.

Existing digital tools do not talk to each other, they say, with the result that most information exchange currently relies on analogue processes and standalone systems.

So as well as strengthening relationships between buyers and sellers in the apparel industry, the collaboration intends to reduce inefficiencies and improve transparency by connecting the multiple standalone systems that companies currently use to manage their processes.  

The increased transparency will translate into higher levels of trust between buyers and sellers and improved efficiency, reducing operating costs for participating companies, they say.

The partnership is also exploring risk-mitigation and financing propositions that capitalise on the data that emerges from these digital solutions.

The access to Serai's core functionality is free, while the digital solutions being offered by Coats Digital and Res.Q to enable users to reduce costs and streamline processes will be available on a software-as-a-service basis.

"The industry now has to rethink its practices and invest in technology to survive in the new normal. This collaboration defines a journey for digitisation in a connected world to deliver true speed to market and significant cost benefits," says Adrian Elliott, president, Apparel and Footwear, Coats.

Samath Fernando, CEO at Res.Q, adds the Covid-19 pandemic "has accelerated the need for simplicity in the apparel industry. Now, more than ever, we are seeing a demand for systems that speak to each other to create transparency and eliminate duplication of work between brand and vendor."

Companies such as Esquel Group, Lever Style, Esquel Group, Hirdaramani, DBL Group and Viyellatex are already using the platform.