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Sourcing strategies never stay the same. They adapt to the environment they operate in and the events that happen around them. They shift and mutate as needs adjust. If they didn’t have that agility then they would quickly fail and a business would suffer from delays and added costs.
Some sourcing strategies in some industries have to adapt quicker than others and those typically tend to be consumer facing ones where the demand from for products to be available faster is constantly increasing.
The fashion industry is one of those, but some parts of have remained fairly old school in their approach to sourcing over the last few years even while all around them has been changing.
The fashion shows of London and Milan are where, traditionally, the major fashion houses have showcased next year’s styles. Following those shows orders taken from buyers but deliveries made many months later. Consumers were impatient to get their hands on those latest trends so some decided that things had to change.
At London Fashion Week 2016, Burberry showcased its first ever “see now, buy now” show, where collections were made instantly available to buy.
Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger were said to be adopting similar approaches. It was even a move that was labelled by the British Fashion Council as being innovative.
It is something that will have needed the full support of the supply chain with more cash and resources tied up in creating an initial stock as well as ensuring that there was enough production capacity to meet what could potentially be large initial orders.
Ultimately, a great deal of risk has shifted to the fashion houses and their supply chains because if those orders don’t come in, they are the ones left with the stock.
What such a strategy needs is a strong bond of trust between supplier and buyer. Buyers need to know that their suppliers can deliver and deal with any added pressure such a strategy brings, while suppliers need to trust their customer that they will be able to make the designs that sell.
Most supplier relationships are built on trust but without that such a big change in strategy from what is a traditionally conservative industry will be almost impossible to pull off successfully.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.
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