Ask the Expert Entries



Mark Burstein discusses how to break down supply chain silos in Supply & Demand Chain Executive

Organizational silos are the bane of so many brands’ and retailers’ supply chains, from disconnected departments to information disparages across channels. But there is relief in sight in the form of today’s next generation supply chain management (SCM) systems that are connecting channels and alleviating the pain silos put on production and profits.

In a recent article by our own Mark Burstein in Supply & Demand Chain Executive, he breaks down a few ways businesses can implement these new SCM practices across their enterprise, by:

  • Responding quickly to sales data. Boosting sales and profitability can be summed up with a simple formula: If something is selling, accelerate production and make more of it; if it’s not selling, cut the losses and stop making it, because it’s cheaper to cancel production. Even a handful of poor-selling products can ruin overall profitability. With the SCM hub connecting design, finance, sales and production data in real time, retailers and brands can quickly react to the latest sales information and make the most of every season.
  • Postponement. SCM allows organizations to push decision-making further downstream; this concept of postponement—waiting until the last possible minute to make decisions—is central to lead time optimization. And it improves decisions, because the further into the design-production process, the more information companies have and the better decisions they make.
  • Performing quality audits at the factory. SCM allows organizations to incorporate quality audits as part of the enterprise platform. This enables you to check for quality at the factory before the goods ship; if an audit fails, you can address it at the source, resolving quality issues quickly and without undue cost.

With omnichannel retailing grown exponentially every year, retailers and brands are looking to new ways their SCM helps meet the demands of consumers and increase profitability. View the full article by Mark, here.



Closing The Zara Gap – The Role of Technology

Author: Megan Castillo, NGC Software

Last week, I attended the annual Sourcing Journal Summit in New York, where once again the topic of Zara came up.  Everyone in this industry wants to achieve the level of success Zara continues to have each year, but the question still remains: how? 

The Zara model presents a flat-out culture shock to most companies.  I mean, who ever heard of designing for 26 seasons a year?  Or better yet, getting product from concept-to-store in just 15 days!  We’re not programmed to think or work in that way.  And not everyone wants to get into the business of ‘fast fashion’.  But we could all learn a little something from Zara on how mastering the fashion supply chain leads to greater profit. 

Most of the attendees at the event held titles such as Manager or VP of Production/Sourcing/Supply Chain, or something similar.  As the discussion turned to how critical it is to speed up production and to eliminate the indecisiveness that tends to slow down the supply chain, most attendees seemed to shrug their shoulders.  One woman at my table leaned over and said, “If it was only that easy. You should see the number of design revisions we go through for one style!”

The reality is, it may take some investment in time and money on your side, but the efficiencies you will gain are worth it in the end.  As I said, the very way in which Zara operates is a culture shock to most, but there are ways to achieve efficiencies in your supply chain using technology.  Does that mean you will turn into a profit house overnight?  No.  Just like anything else, you have to walk before you run, and implementing a fashion SCM solution that enables the processes below, will take you one step closer.

  • Establish intuitive workflow calendars that manage milestone events and alert you when dates are missed that can cause production delays.
     
  • Collaborate with your global supply chain partners in real-time, and eliminate the use of spreadsheets and emails that become outdated or lost. 
     
  • Reduce sample turnaround times, revisions, and overall cost with improved communications.
     
  • Start planning material requirements to lock in costs.
     
  • Eliminate indecisiveness with key analytics like sell-thru analysis and other big data, so you can cut what’s not selling and allocate materials and resources to more of what is selling.
     
  • View real-time work-in-process updates when making decisions, not last Thursday’s numbers.
     
  • Improve quality control with remote inspections, eliminating mistakes at the source, rather than waiting until the goods are shipped, saving time and money.
     
  • And more…

To sum up, you need to start making changes, even at the smallest level, and an SCM technology solution can help.  It’s no longer a game of driving down cost at the supplier to achieve the greatest margins.  It’s about achieving efficiencies in your own processes that lead to gains in the bottom line.  By identifying and alleviating those bottlenecks in your supply chain, each season, whether you produce 6 or 26, will be more profitable than before!



Ease Communications and Improve Packing and Shipping Accuracy with NGC’s EZ-Ship

One of the biggest dilemmas we hear about from customers is the need to communicate with factories overseas to make sure merchandise is packed and shipped correctly. NGC’s EZ-Ship is the best solution to this common problem and a necessity in today’s omni-channel world to ensure shipments make it from the factory to their destination. 

What is EZ-Ship?

EZ-Ship is a scan-pack solution and electronic data exchange that interfaces with NGC’s Retail Supply Chain Management solution and can handle standard EDI X12 retailer’s requirements. The software empowers manufacturers to introduce scan-packing and scan-loading to be compliant with purchase orders types such as: musical or mixed SKUs, solid SKUs or pre-pack orders. Therefore manufacturers are able to improve carton content and shipment accuracy to its distributions centers (DCs) and/or customers, and help reduce chargebacks and shipping errors that occur when merchandise is not delivered according to purchase order (PO) requirements.

Benefits of NGC’s EZ-Ship

If you’re already deploying NGC’s SCM solution, there are no integration costs and no master data entry required. Benefits of EZ-Ship include:

  • Ease of Use: EZ-Ship has a simple workflow and easy to use system
  • Data Integrity: All data comes from SCM and/or EDI interfaces to ensure data integrity
  • Flexibility: Supports multiple shipping methodology and GS1-128 label formats
  • Security: Only P.O.’s assigned to the factory can be downloaded to EZ-Ship
  • Data Protection: All data is seamless transferred between EZ-Ship and SCM
  • Automation: Uploading and downloading of data can be automated

Trusted by Large Omni-Channel Apparel Brands

Leading apparel brands, including DXL, have already integrated EZ-Ship. DXL uses EZ-Ship to reduce chargebacks and packing errors by validating the contents of each carton and shipment sent from the retailer’s factories. The retailer, who also utilizes NGC’s Fashion PLM, is the largest omni-channel specialty retailer of big & tall men's apparel.

EZ-Ship integrates with DXL’s SCM and EDI systems and allows for shipments to multiple DCs directly from the factory. The solution supports unlimited ASN and label formats, providing remote shipping sites with the flexibility to use a standard import and export data set that easily integrates with any ERP, WMS or DC system. See why DXL is deploying EZ-Ship, here.

To learn more about EZ-Ship and begin implementing, contact us today.



A New Generation of Enterprise Supply Chain Systems Eliminates Operational Silos

Supply chain management (SCM) systems have constantly evolved throughout the past decade, with an increased focus on lead-time optimization. Efficient supply chain management has helped fuel the growth of the global economy, making it possible for companies to do business with overseas suppliers and produce products faster and more cost-effectively.

Today, however, many companies have hit the wall in supply chain efficiency and speed to market. Nowhere is that more true than in the retail and apparel industries, where the demands of omnichannel retailing have exposed a critical weakness: supply chain silos.

A New Generation of SCM Systems

The good news is a new generation of supply chain management systems is helping enterprises break through their organizational barriers and tear down the silos in their supply chain. These new Retail, Fashion and Apparel SCM solutions connect the data and all supplementary systems in an organization to drive better decision-making and faster turnaround time – turning SCM into an enterprise platform that shares information among key stakeholders in every department, as well as third parties such as vendors, suppliers, product testing labs, logistics providers and more.

With this kind of alignment in processes and systems, SCM can then serve as an enterprise hub connecting users and departments across many different departments in the organization.

The typical product lifecycle is complex but the new generation of SCM systems connects users, departments and data throughout the organization. SCM takes information from a number of other systems and data sources, shares and analyzes it, and then executes decisions based on the results. Every stakeholder shares in the information, which is important, since issues in one part of the organization have ripple effects upstream or downstream. 

Here are a few of the ways the new generation of SCM solutions can change the way companies do business:

Respond quickly to sales data. Boosting sales and profitability can be summed up with a simple formula: If something is selling, accelerate production and make more of it; if it’s not selling, cut the losses and stop making it, because it’s cheaper to cancel production. Even a handful of poor-selling products can ruin overall profitability. With the SCM hub connecting design, finance, sales and production data in real-time, retailers and brands can quickly react to the latest sales information and make the most of every season.

Push decision-making further downstream. SCM allows organizations to push decision-making further downstream; this concept of “postponement” – waiting until the last possible minute to make decisions – is central to lead time optimization. And it improves decisions, because the further into the design-production process, the more information companies will have and the better decisions they’ll make. 

Perform quality audits at the factory. SCM allows organizations to incorporate quality audits as part of the enterprise platform. This enables you to check for quality at the factory before the goods ship; if an audit fails, you can address it at the source, resolving quality issues quickly and without undue cost.

Break Down the Silos. Throughout their history, supply chain management systems have continually adapted as business models have changed. Today is no different. With the rise of omnichannel retailing, SCM has again adapted in order to break down organizational silos and serve as an enterprise platform – making omnichannel retail a reality and putting businesses on the path to much greater profitability.

For more information on the new generation of SCM solutions, download NGC’s white paper, “Optimize Lead Time, Maximize Profit.” 



Why Supply Chain Execution is Today’s #1 Priority

Reuters recently reported that Target “is asking many suppliers to take on up to an extra 3-5 percent of the cost of promotions and price cuts after slow sales so far this year.” The article noted that Target made the move to “minimize the impact of markdowns on profit in a tough year as middle-income customers make fewer discretionary purchases.”

Target isn’t alone as Walmart and other big retailers are also imposing tougher delivery deadlines and penalties in response to weak demand and sluggish sales through the industry. And other retailers will soon follow. Retail sales and profits are down overall, and retailers are forced to resort to discounts and promotions in order to entice consumers to buy.

What can suppliers do? The answer is simple: focus on supply chain execution as if your life depends on it. Because in a very real sense, it does.

In today’s unforgiving retail climate, the message to brands and manufacturers is clear: Supply chain execution must become your #1 priority. Without it, you stand to incur huge financial penalties – and possibly lose your most important customers.

Luckily, a new generation of supply chain management systems is helping enterprises break through their organizational barriers and improve supply chain visibility and transparency. NGC’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) solution connects the data and systems in an organization to drive better decision-making and faster turnaround time – turning SCM into an enterprise platform that helps brands optimize lead times, control costs, improve profitability and meet the new mandates from retailers.

Without better supply chain execution and true transparency, production issues – quality problems, delayed shipments on raw materials, overbooked capacity, test and inspection failures and much more – can’t be shared before problems escalate into full-blown crises. When companies have to sort through mountains of spreadsheets, emails and faxes, they face delayed shipments, rush charges for overnight shipments, and a failure to meet required delivery windows, resulting in drastic financial losses.

And without proper visibility, they can miss key demand signals that tell them when to accelerate production on best-selling, profitable merchandise and when to cut their losses on products that are headed to instant markdowns. However, with a SCM system that connects design, finance, sales and production data in real-time, brands and retailers alike can help ensure on-time deliveries, quickly react to the latest sales information and make the most of every season.

In the new realities of retail, supply chain execution isn’t just the key to thriving – it’s the key to survival. Find out how NGC’s SCM Solution can help


 
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