SCM Blog Series Entries

NGC’s New Mobile Quality Solution Helps Improve Product Quality and Reduce Chargebacks

Where’s the best place to correct quality issues in apparel? On the factory floor, of course. But all too often, companies don’t discover critical quality problems until products have arrived at the distribution centers or stores. 

That’s why NGC recently announced our Advanced Quality Module. The new tablet-based software and application allows quality control managers to easily conduct quality audits and detect problems before the goods leave the factory floor. As a result, retailers and brands can identify problems sooner, fix them at the factory before products ship, and reduce the risk of cancellations or chargebacks by improving product quality.

Our Advanced Quality Module replaces the time-consuming, manual quality control processes still in use by many brands. It easily integrates with existing PLM and apparel supply chain management solutions from NGC and other vendors, and it features multilingual online and offline functionality for global collaboration. The Advanced Quality Module can be used with the NGC Interactive Quality Tablet, a fast, easy-to-use, mobile solution for quality auditing.

This complete solution allows auditors to conduct multiple audit types per purchase order, take photos of defects, and conduct master inspections. NGC’s Advanced Quality Module can provide comprehensive analytics by factory, vendor, country and style, assuring the most complete set of quality data, which can be analyzed in order to assist with sourcing decisions and identify where factories can make improvements. Corrective action plans bring the quality assurance process full circle.

For more information on our Advanced Quality Module, click 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!

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

How to Achieve Faster Speed to Market with your SCM Platform

Part 2 of 2:

Last week, in part one of this blog series, we established that, due to overwhelming customer demand, fashion brands, retailers and consumer goods companies are looking for ways to improve speed to market.

In the NGC white paper, 8 Steps for Faster Speed to Market: Improving Supply Chain Speed and Agility, we detailed how to use your SCM enterprise platform during the pre-PO and post-PO stages to achieve these goals and continue to deliver excellent goods and services to your customers:

Better compliance with calendars and deadlines. Calendar and deadline compliance can be improved with the Workflow Calendars and Exception Reporting found in today’s enterprise systems for SCM. Calendars are role-based and instantly accessible via the web; users can see the status of milestone dates for calendars and make sure product groups, collections and approvals are all on schedule, with alerts and color-coded dashboard to when deadlines aren’t met.

Improved WIP tracking. Manufacturers can easily update Work-In-Process (WIP) so users can track the production status of each order and instantly check progress. Alerts and color-coded dashboards can be customized to show the current status and can even predict if the item will run late due to unexpected delays. Collaboration and WIP tracking can also help companies speed up the replenishment of best-selling products and cut their losses on others.

More efficient line planning. Modern enterprise systems such as PLM include interactive planning tools that allow retailers, brands, and manufacturers to view and manage the line development processes with a number of automated features that improve line planning efficiency. With real-time visibility through an enterprise platform, merchandising, design and sourcing teams can be synchronized to ensure an on-time product launch.

Strategic positioning of raw materials. Using enterprise systems, companies can forecast raw material requirements, place commitments with multiple suppliers and draw down the commitments as POs are issued and the materials are consumed. This reduces the risk of holding too much or too little inventory to meet downstream demand or holding unused inventory for unacceptable lengths of time – and it plays a huge role in improving cycle time. Read on »

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