14 Mar Keeping track of your suppliers is a necessary choice to make
When being a company in a continuously changing and demanding market, it can be challenging to focus on the production pace without losing track of suppliers. Delogue had a talk with Michael Hillmose, export manager of DM&T, about the choices brands should make and why they are essential in a dynamic environment as the fashion industry.
START BY EDUCATING INTERNALLY, INCLUDING YOUR SUPPLIERS
Some things are easier said than done, specially managing safety, quality and CSR at once. According to Michael, the pressure is high from both clients and suppliers: “Customers demand faster delivery and lower prices while still maintaining the proper CSR- conditions and the suppliers are fighting with changes in the raw-material prices, wages and various costs.”
Considering the market situation, Michael Hillmose has noticed an increased attention towards quality products to meet CSR demands in the fashion industry. He explains that transparency, quality and CSR are steadily growing as the key factors to maintain a healthy relation with suppliers. Additionally, Michael Hillmose emphasizes that promoting a stronger collaboration with suppliers is the best thing fashion companies can do, by introducing quality-programs and educating both internally and externally.
KEEP DEVELOPING YOUR CURRENT RELATIONSHIPS
The price-pressure issue in retail has always been here but according to Michael Hillmose, companies have been skilled at cutting those costs off – “Fashion companies find new markets where they can produce at a lower cost, but that possibility is gradually getting smaller”.
As he points out, “The best solution seems to be developing your current supplier, if there isn’t any notable costs surrounding moving the production”. So before changing supplier, evaluate current relations and consider maintaining cost-focused suppliers to communicate transparency and enrol a higher quality control of your brand and products.
MANAGE YOUR PRODUCTION WISELY
The fashion industry is calling for loyal suppliers and high flexibility to gain competitive strength. Unfortunately, not all brands have the resources and power to achieve these competitive advantages through their suppliers. At the same time, popularity in certain production areas raises the competition, which eventually could lead to lower quality and prices.
Furthermore, the challenge is to manage suppliers when production and design spreading across borders. Therefore, a structured PDM strategy is now more important than ever, as Michael elaborates giving the example of a general trend in the European market: “In Europe, the development has been going in one direction the past couple of years – and that’s towards a larger production of basic items in Asia, with less specialized production within or around the borders of EU.”
A NECESSARY CHOICE
There is no time for mistakes and waste of valuable resources when it comes to production. It is crucial to take an active role in supplier control and PDM. Michael Hillmose clarifies that by implementing a PDM system, transparency and management of each deliverance, will be easily achieved and combined to improve quality control.
We recommend the following steps for managing your production flow and develop your relation with your suppliers:
- Build a stronger relationship with existing suppliers and evaluate cost vs. long-term assets before changing your supplier.
- Increase transparency by incorporating a space for knowledge sharing and a single source of documentation.
- Incorporate structures to keep track of your process and workflow when sourcing your production, to maintain lower prices while keeping a consistent service and quality.