Approach & Process

The Ultimate List of Digital Sourcing Statistics for Textile and Apparel Manufacturers 2021

The world of 3D fabric and apparel is dynamic and ever-changing — trends, technology, and tactics are in a state of constant flux. But where do suppliers and buyers stand on either side of the textile and apparel supply chain?

July 29, 2021
Written by
Tanya Balwani

What is Digital Sourcing?

In order for buyers to discover, develop and deliver products to diverse markets, digital tools have enabled suppliers to communicate quickly and easily.

We put together a list of all the essential metrics and statistics you should know to understand where you stand in your industry—whether you're on the buying or supplying end.

It is crucial that your business stays informed about new developments in the industry—after all, the last thing you want is for your business to lag behind while your competitors stay ahead of the curve. 

But how can you be sure you're keeping up with the times? 

A great way to remain relevant and keep up with the latest trends is to keep an eye on digital sourcing statistics. 

Whether you're focused on 3D material scanning, 3D product development or digital showrooms, we've summarised a plethora of statistics outlined in Material Exchange’s Digital Sourcing Market Report to help you connect with your customers, reach your target audience, and boost sales.


  • 45% of buyers cited that they spend €10,000 (US$11,900) on physical samples per year.
  • 49% of suppliers stated that they spend over €10,000 on physical samples a year.
  • Only 10% of suppliers indicated that they are showing samples in 3D.

State of the Industry: 

  • 72% of buyers believe that digitalisation is critical. 
  • 62% of suppliers believe that digitalisation is critical.
  • 78% of buyers stated that they ask for sustainable materials from their suppliers. 

Presenting Materials:

  • 31% of suppliers are presenting and communicating new material collections through sending samples.
  • 30% of suppliers are presenting and communicating new material collections through trade shows.
  • 23% of suppliers are presenting and communicating new material collections through supplier presentations.
  • 14% of suppliers are presenting and communicating new material collections through digital showrooms/platforms.
  • 2% of suppliers are presenting and communicating new material collections through in-person meetings with buyers.

Presenting Materials Online: 

  • Less than 10% of suppliers indicated that they were showing materials in 3D. 
  • 86% used 2D, Flatbed scans and photography to showcase materials. 

Sales Channels:

  • While suppliers reported various sales channels, Trade Shows proved to be the most popular. 

Skills and Experience:

  • There were 16% of respondents who had highly experienced marketers on their teams, 40% with moderate experience, 39 % with low experience, while 19% had no experience with marketing.
  • 5% of respondents reported having highly experienced Product Lifecycle Managers on their teams, while 24% reported moderate experience, 18% with low experience, and 22% did not have any experience.
  • There are 11% of suppliers whose team members are highly capable of listing material digitally, 28% who have moderate capabilities, 36 % who have low experience, and 22% who have no experience.
  • Of the suppliers who worked with 3D materials, 0.6% were very skilled, 11.5% were moderately skilled, 29% had little experience, and 31% had none at all.

Digitalisation on the Buying Side:

  • 15% of respondents have used Substance Alchemist to create 3D material scans or visuals.
  • 35% of respondents have used Substance Designer to create 3D material scans or visuals.
  • 27% of respondents have used Vizoo to create 3D material scans or visuals.
  • 8% of respondents have used Unity Art Engine to create 3D material scans or visuals.

Buyers' Preference:

  • 30% of buyers often source materials digitally. 
  • 47% of buyers cite their teams using 3D software.
  • 21% of buyers use CLO3D.
  • 11% of buyers use Adobe Substance, Browzwear and Rhinoceros.
  • When it comes to repeat business, 34% of buyers prefer direct ways of sourcing.
  • And 18% prefer conducting repeat business at trade shows.

Unique Selling Propositions:

  • 98% of suppliers can provide sustainable options. 
  • 26% of suppliers consider quality to be their USP.
  • 18% of buyers believe the price to be an essential deciding factor.

In the rapidly evolving world of textiles and apparel, keeping up with the newest trends and processes may seem like a daunting task.

However, your business can retain its competitive advantage by keeping up with the latest digital sourcing statistics. No matter what your business is focused on or what your goals are reading up on the latest trends within each category is a great way to ensure your ability to stay relevant. This is how you'll reach your customers and boost sales.

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