The fast fashion dilemma
The move toward ‘fast fashion’ is putting major pressure on those working in the procurement departments.
Fashion can cycle in and out of retail stores across the globe in a matter of weeks; putting those in procurement under constant pressure to ensure their supply chain is clean.
For many professionals working in this field, it’s a perpetual battle to balance the insatiable appetite for the latest dirt-cheap fashion with the constant demand that retailers stop the rag trade. Though perhaps not surprisingly, it’s pretty much impossible to find anyone willing to go on the record about how they tackle this issue to ensure their fast fashion supply chain is clean.
There are industry whispers that many procurement missions to places like China can result in more questions than answers. Often, a myriad of ‘agents’ acting on behalf of other sections of the supply chain make it extremely difficult for those in procurement to truly understand who they’re hiring, and whether they’re the sort of ethical supplier you’re hoping for.
Most recently in Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a warning about a dangerous dye found in jeans on sale in Australian stores.
Tests uncovered clothes with high concentration of the dyes, which sparked recalls of more than 121,000 items from retailers including Myer, Target, Rivers, Trade Secret and Just Jeans. A number of children’s clothes, including jeans from Myer, Just Jeans and Target, were included in the recall.
This situation will no doubt have caused major headaches for someone working in procurement, somewhere along the line. It’s also an example of why it’s so important for those in procurement to know where and how garments are being made.
After all, it doesn’t take much more than a few questions to be asked and some information to be shared on social media for a major brand to cop a beating over a supplier that’s possibly a long way down the supply chain.
However, some of the big brands have been working hard to clean up their act.
H&M, which is now in Australia, wants to prove to consumers that it’s doing the right thing. According to media reports, H&M has put a plan in place to avoid sourcing fabrics from endangered forest and also promote the use of fabrics that come from Forest Stewardship Council certified plantations. The company will also work to build traceable and sustainable production of these fabrics in its own supply chain.
For other major brands, the answer lies in innovation.
Stephen Denning, supply chain expert and author of the book Radical Management says brands like Zara have solved the problem of how to get disciplined execution with continuous innovation. “The way they lay out their factories, the design team is right in the middle of the factory, so that the whole process of learning from the manufacturers and vice versa is horizontal,” Denning was quoted as saying in The Business of Fashion.
People of Procurious, where do you stand on this “fast fashion” fixation? Make your voice heard and leave your comments below.
Hello and welcome to your one-stop shop for everything Procurement news-related.
Find out which e-procurement organisation Selectica has acquired… UK darlings of fashion and homeware, Marks and Spencer (M&S) – talk about sustainability, and we learn which countries are most at risk from supply chain disruption.
So without further ado, lets see what’s been going on in the world…
Key Skills for Procurement
• Continuing the blog from the previous week, CPO Rising highlights skills that are required for procurement
• Business Consulting skills can help procurement professionals define scope, manage projects and capture requirements more effectively
Read more at CPO Rising
Iasta acquisition (USA)
• Contract management software provider Selectica has acquired e-procurement organisation Iasta in a deal worth US$7m
• Selectica plan to use the new acquisition to enhance their customer offering by integrating the contract management and e-procurement offerings for enterprises
Global Sustainability (UK)
• UK company Marks and Spencer plan to take their ‘Plan A’ sustainability scheme global
• Plan A 2020, will include new targets around worldwide sourcing principles around issues such as human rights and gender equality
Supply Chain Disruption (Global)
• The FM Global resilience index shows which countries are most susceptible to disruption in their supply chains
• Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Kyrgyzstan were named as the countries most susceptible to disruption
• Norway, Switzerland and Canada topped the list of nations most resistant to such disruption
Read more at Supply Management
Impact of Leadership (USA)
• Guest blog from Samir Patel (Director, GEP) on the Impact of Leadership on Procurement Organisations
• Emphasises the need for strong leadership in Procurement functions and alignment with the wider organisation when considering strategy
• Also gives some good recommendations beyond leadership for optimising the procurement organisation
Read more at the SIG Industry Blog
Tips for Negotiation (USA)
• Some tips are offered for negotiating when you are in a weak position and how to make the best business case you can
• Tips include being fully prepared, asking questions and listening and keeping cool during the negotiation
Read more at Harvard Business Review
Procurement Focus (USA/UK)
• New study shows that procurement focus is shifting from just cost reduction to innovation and influence
• The Hackett Group study found that only half of the executives surveyed said that cost reduction was their key strategic focus for this year
• 69% of the organisations highlighted a focus on supplier innovation in the coming year
Read more at SDC Executive
Social media can be an erratic and angry beast. One minute your company is being praised, and the next it’s under fire for a minor procurement program that’s somehow landed in serious hot water.
To stay out of trouble, make sure you are prepared for any social media crisis well before there’s any sign of trouble.
Start by working up to a worst case scenario by considering what could go wrong, recommends Sydney social media trainer Steven Lewis of Taleist.
Consider who is going to be called in from other duties to lend a hand if trouble hits, he says.
“The first step in handling a crisis is to be prepared for the eventuality in the first place. If you’re prepared, you’ll know who’s going to speak, what they need, and you’ll have your channels and processes in place and tested. Having thought about those things in advance frees you up to think strategically when dealing with the specifics of a crisis,” Lewis says.
Conduct a risk assessment on each of your processes so you know how they might be questioned or attacked, and by whom, Lewis advises.
“Create a tailored response to each process that allows you to give clear justification, preferably with supporting evidence. If, for instance, you’re accused of using a supplier who uses child labour, what policies, inspections or assurances from the supplier can you cite and what would your response be to an accusation?”
People expect their corporate citizens to have human qualities, so don’t be afraid to respond on with some emotion, he says.
If you don’t know something you’re being asked, say so.
“It’s not good for a clothing brand, for example, to say it’s never even considered there might be child labour in its overseas supply chain, but you might not have all the facts to hand immediately. But an empathetic response and a promise to investigate with a deadline will help.”
In this example, he suggests a response such as: ‘We care deeply about child labour too and we’d be horrified to find we’d supported it even directly.”
It’s important to respond online, he says.
“You need to be in the channels in which you’re being discussed. If you’re being attacked on Twitter, it’s not enough to put up a media release on your website. How will the people on Twitter know it’s there?”
Remember, a social media crisis seldom involves a rational exchange of views, he says.
“Essentially, you have to be prepared for the emotion of a crisis. If you plan to deal with the crisis only through the cold exchange of facts, you won’t put out the fire.”
Get your side of the story up quickly and in the relevant media, he says.
“You’ll likely have supporters and the more you can give them to share and get your side out, the better.”
However, be prepared to wear the criticism, he says.
“In social media as in politics, it’s often the cover-up that will get you. People don’t like having their comments deleted,” Lewis warns.