SAP AFS is SAP’s specialized Apparel and Footwear Solution. SAP AFS is an industry-specific software solution based on SAP standard modules, but built with extra functionalities. Those extended features and functionalities help to support the various special requirements of the apparel and footwear industry.

The apparel and footwear industry is highly competitive and fragmented due to low barriers of entry. So it is one of the most competitive and demanding industries that exists in all of retail. Because of the constant challenges and high demand within the global AFS business environment, retailers are frequently creating new trends and battling against the relentless pressure of high costs and changing lead times. Adaptability is crucial in order to remain competitive.

To help retailers combat against the numerous challenges of the apparel and footwear industry, AFS provides a unique set of services and solutions that help empower business partners, employees, and customers, allowing them to work in successful partnerships. SAP AFS is available on-demand from any location and across any platform (such as mobile e.g. with SAP FIORI). Allowing for the use of the latest SAP technology and infrastructure, AFS is an obvious solution for companies in the apparel and footwear industry.

Specific Apparel and Footwear Industry Challenges

The apparel and footwear industry is truly global in scope, in that manufacturers can now sell different products that are produced in different countries and spanning many different continents. A global procurement strategy requires processes combined with offshore and contract domestic production processes. This combination of domestic plus nearshore plus offshore production often create complex, inefficient and hard to monitor value chains.

To remain competitive, apparel and footwear companies must assume the role of coordinator (for internal processes) and focus also on intercompany processes. This means a major turn for those companies, shifting their main focus and competencies away from pure production and more onto planning, controlling, and textile monitoring in the overall value chain.

Areas of more importance, such as production planning, product development, control and coordination, quality assurance, finished goods and raw material requirements planning, and transport optimization are most often kept at central headquarters. This more vertically integrated approach makes partner collaboration and data flow in the textile supply chain complicated, but extremely critical to the success of companies in the apparel and footwear industry.

Other major challenges retailers face are labor and outsourcing problems. Outsourcing and multilevel division of labor are common practice in the apparel and footwear industry. Companies optimize their production processes in order to cut costs and achieve financial success. Automation of the production of shoes and clothing can also only be done to a certain degree and level, which quickly limits savings potential.

Because of this limited savings potential, companies began outsourcing their product production to lower wage countries – reducing costs, but compromising quality and production process transparency. Largely spread out global production locations naturally complicate production process supervision and monitoring, resulting in more expensive and longer transportation routes and unmet production delivery deadlines.

Finally, due to the fact that the fashion industry is constantly and sporadically changing, seasonality is one of the most important aspects in the apparel and footwear trade. Companies must be able to cope with the unpredictable seasonal fluctuations, variations in design, forecast uncertainty, shortages in stock, and inevitable costly markdowns in prices.

Preview on upcoming topics for “SAP Solutions & Fashion Industries?”:

  • SAP AFS Advantages
  • SAP Fashion Management Solution (FMS)
  • The Future of AFS and FMS

If you would like to obtain further information regarding the migration from SAP AFS to FMS, IS-Retail, or SAP HANA please contact us at 1 (484) 401-7218 or via email at to schedule a free consultation with one of our expert consultants.