Apparel Software Trends 2014: Ethical Sourcing and Compliance Are Among Top Supply Chain Issues

Apparel Software Trends 2014: Ethical Sourcing and Compliance Are Among Top Supply Chain Issues

April 16, 2014

Part 1 of a 2-Part Series

The annual Just-Style management briefing on Apparel Software Trends is one of our favorite fashion technology reports, because it features the collective thinking of some of the industry’s top fashion technology executives. It provides an excellent summary of the key technology and supply chain challenges and opportunities facing the industry and how these change each year.

NGC was honored to be included in this year’s report. And in case you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, here are the answers from NGC’s Mark Burstein, president of sales, marketing and R&D.  We’re presenting these as a two-part series, along with links to each of the articles in Just-Style’s four-part series.

Just-Style: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the global apparel supply chain in 2014, and why?

Burstein: Global fashion supply chains continue to be focused on the traditional issues of reducing product development time and improving speed to market; faster time to market is still the #1 benefit that companies hope to gain from their PLM and SCM investments.

Beyond this, though, we see several key challenges facing global apparel supply chains today. These include ethical sourcing and social compliance, as well as meeting the burdens of a growing number of government requirements such as CPSIA, SB657, Dodd-Frank and many others. [[more]]

It’s imperative for fashion companies to ensure that their products are safe and manufactured responsibly. The Rana Plaza tragedies became a rallying cry to ensure safe working conditions for factory workers in Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries. However, as Just-Style has documented so well, the problems are complex, difficult to address, and intertwined with the very culture of global apparel production.

For example, given the continued emphasis on speed to market and low prices, coupled with increased quality demands, buyers may continually put more pressure on factories – not to mention overbooking factories, then making last-minute order changes or cancellations. Forced to respond to intense pressure, factories may take potentially disastrous shortcuts.

The proliferation of government regulations has an adverse effect on fashion sourcing, too. Companies must ensure their products meet a growing number of governmental requirements, adding another layer to already-burdened product development and supply chain operations.

Click here to read the full article.

Just-Style: How can software help tackle these issues?

Burstein: It’s critical for brands and retailers to synchronize and orchestrate every facet of the concept-to-consumer process. However, the extended apparel enterprise is extremely complex and driven by information; many different and very disparate departments within the enterprise own and need access to data – the lifeblood that drives the global apparel enterprise. These include sales, planning, merchandising, design, compliance, sourcing, quality, purchasing, procurement, and many others. Third-party entities also need this data, among them raw materials suppliers, freight forwarders and testing laboratories.

If there is no centralized repository of information, so that siloed data can be shared in real time both upstream and downstream, the results can be devastating: production that doesn’t match in-store demand, late shipments, design errors, products that are manufactured under unsafe working conditions or recalled because they don’t meet CPSIA requirements.

Apparel software is ideally suited to handle all these complexities, and fashion PLM can be the key, because PLM provides the ideal platform to orchestrate all information, processes, departments and geographies throughout the global enterprise. A Web-based PLM system can serve as the hub of the enterprise, while a supply chain system on the back end can improve efficiencies, reduce errors, improve product quality, increase sales and profits, and preserve brand integrity.

Click here to read the rest of the article.