Overcoming the Challenges in Achieving Supply Chain TransparencyMarch 5, 2018
As fashion brands and retailers strive to make corporate social responsibility (CSR) an integral part of their business, they are faced with challenges. It’s one thing to define your goals and strategies as they relate to CSR and compliance, but it’s another to actually execute on them. And one of the biggest challenges in executing on these goals is supply chain transparency, or lack thereof.
Culture & Technology – 2 Main Inhibitors of Supply Chain Transparency
Corporate social responsibility goals and strategies were traditionally, like everything else, contained in their own silos, but are now becoming more interwoven into every aspect of modern fashion businesses. To support this transition, companies need to invest in both their people and technology to promote cultural changes, and then equip their teams with the proper solutions to carry out their strategies.
Below are some examples of the challenges companies are facing as they try to change old processes to adapt and incorporate new initiatives in support of their CSR and compliance goals:
Siloed nature of sourcing and compliance teams – This cultural barrier is a major inhibitor to the success of compliance programs. Sourcing and compliance teams need to be more involved throughout every stage of the product lifecycle.
Outdated technology – Many companies are still using older systems that lack tools to provide the real-time insight, collaboration and the overall visibility necessary to support their transparency goals.
Global nature of the industry – Time differences and distance make it difficult to keep proper tabs on your global vendors. Communication also becomes a challenge.
Tiered structure of the supply chain - It’s not uncommon for there to be multiple agents, factories and suppliers involved, and many companies can’t see past their Tier 1 suppliers, making traceability difficult.
Inefficient Reporting Processes – Analyzing emails and spreadsheets – which don't update in real time – complicates an already intricate process, slowing down product development and making visibility and traceability all but impossible.
Concept of Fast Fashion – Many feel that fast fashion makes it harder to comply with CSR, but that’s only if you don’t have the right processes and technology in place to ensure both speed and compliance.
The Solution: Embracing the Digital Supply Chain
With the right solution, issues relating to a brand’s ecological or social impact can be mitigated more quickly, if not before they happen. Centralizing and automating the collection and sharing of the data related to their CSR programs allows for easier reporting and follow up. Further, with real-time updates, brands and retailers can manage by exception vs. manually monitoring everything, to keep in line with their fast fashion timelines.
Retailers and brands must embrace the digital supply chain and use a platform designed specifically for everyone to communicate and collaborate instantly, from anywhere in the world. As collaboration increases across the supply chain, transparency, oversight and traceability also increase throughout every stage of the product lifecycle.