As the global labor force changes and raw material prices continuously fluctuate, it’s becoming more and more difficult for retailers to find stable, yet innovative suppliers to produce their private label products. Local competitive shopping trips otherwise known as “comp shopping” and buying trips abroad are common practices to understand the market, competition and to meet face to face with the factories who could potentially produce the next big product trend – Sounds so easy right?
The Fragmented World of Global Retail Sourcing
As reality sets in and the real work begins, buying, sourcing, quality and supplier management teams have an uphill battle. Product specifications need to be completed and agreed upon, price comparisons and negotiations need to take place, supplier selection needs to happen, factory compliance documentation needs to be shared, quality assurance needs to sign off on specs and materials used, among many other things in the end-to-end product lifecycle. All this information and it’s also very common in the retail industry for the information to be fragmented, transformed, updated, kept in spreadsheet trackers and shared through email attachments within small departmentalized retail teams.
Product development data, specifications, costing, supplier, factory and quality information are often times stored in silos. Each silo is accessed by the responsible team and although not intentional, it limits access to other teams. For example, the buying team may decide to update the product spec between them and the supplier which can result in the information to slip through the cracks and become unknown to other internal teams, such as, the sourcing and quality teams. Information silos can cause many issues that result in product defects and delays in bringing products to market.
Innovations in Global Retail Sourcing
Leading retailers are starting to take action and embrace automation and the digital era. The digitization and supply chain management software means that retailers are able to easily collaborate and communicate more effectively internally and externally regarding product, sourcing, production, supplier, factory and quality information.
Digital platforms can, streamline the supply chain, and lower costs.
Today’s retail sourcing software innovations can shorten production and delivery lead times while increasing production flexibility.
PLM Software platforms combined with retail sourcing software and supply chain software will give retailers a complete view of the end-to-end product development and critical path management process.
Communication with internal and external partners in real-time results in one version of the truth across the board for all retail teams.
Innovations in Global Retail Sourcing allows retailers to have side-by-side costing analysis of “what if” and “should” costing scenarios.
Software tools like Product Life-cycle Management (retail PLM) technology and Total Sourcing Management platforms will play an important role in the retail supply chain which, will enable accurate and faster management of product development, sourcing, quality, suppliers and factories. Retailers will be able to collaborate, communicate internally and externally to achieve real-time, accurate updates and notifications at every stage of the product lifecycle, resulting in faster speed-to-market and less quality related production issues.