More than ever, consumers prefer (and even demand) transparency from brands. They want to know the exact ingredients in their food, if their products were made sustainably, and even where companies stand politically. And those who fail to comply face deep reputational costs.
Fashion retailers are certainly no exception. Yet, in terms of supply chain, fashion industry suppliers have traditionally been a closely guarded secret. Is there a common ground to both achieve transparency with external stakeholders, while keeping proprietary secrets close to the chest? As usual, modern technology comes to the rescue, giving brands a way to go as deep or as wide as necessary to provide the appropriate level of visibility.
What is Supply Chain Mapping and Transparency?
Supply chain mapping and transparency provide a way for fashion brands to shed light on what’s behind the scenes, both for external appeasement and internal visibility. Let’s start with some definitions:
Supply chain mapping is the tracking of the exact source of every vendor and supplier for every material or component.
In plainer English, supply chain mapping requires you to discover all the links in your supply chain, understand them, and make it easier to achieve regulatory compliance. Mapping your supply chain gives you unprecedented visibility over basic SCM practices.
But mapping your supply chain is no easy feat. It takes substantial effort to investigate every point on your supply chain, analyze them, and connect the dots from individual fiber to final sale. Traditional supply chain mapping treats your partners as disparate entities, unable to collaborate and connect with each other, leaving the heavy lifting of SCM up to you. Luckily, there are alternatives.
Supply chain transparency is the visibility a business has into the supply chain to communicate information with internal and external stakeholders.
In short, supply chain transparency means disclosing your suppliers to customers, consumers, and other stakeholders. But why do external parties need a glimpse into your supply chain? For a number of reasons: safety, labor practices, environmental impact, ethical sourcing — and the list goes on. Consumers, governments, and NGOs are now calling on brands to practice more responsible business than ever and prove it through supply chain transparency.
Technology: the Secret to Comprehensive Supply Chain Management
While both supply chain mapping and supply chain transparency are important for businesses to stay relevant, they’re impossible to accomplish without a platform that digitizes the processes.
Yet, technology cannot exist in a vacuum. Harvard Business Review asserts that “any viable solution must include the right mix of people, information, and technology to support outlined objectives” — and that means centralized collaboration.
Unlike traditional supply chain management processes that are manual, cumbersome, and outdated, the Suuchi GRID digitizes the manufacturing process with technology that centralizes communications and assets between brands, vendors, and suppliers. Bringing partners on to the GRID opens communication lines, allowing for ultimate transparency and collaboration.
- Product designers can share CAD drawings and submit tech packs for approval.
- Adding material suppliers ensures receipt of specs and fulfillment timelines.
- Logistics partners can provide tracking and delay updates, while retailers share sales and inventory data.
- Brands can track their entire process from product conception through distribution and sales through technology that collects data from internal and external stakeholders for stronger data integrity.
Plus, integrated PLM and materials management minimizes delays in the early stages of the supply chain to leverage already existing specs and supplier information.
Compliance and transparency are hot on the minds of every stakeholder you work with. Supply chain technology gives you peace of mind knowing you can track and answer for every step in your supply chain process. Having a fully mapped supply chain will allow you to go as deep or as wide as you need to through product features and integrations that provide total visibility and transparency.