Forming the Customer-Centric Apparel Supply Chain

The concept of a customer-centric apparel supply chain sounds solid, but companies disagree on how to achieve this. While some focus on meeting the customer's every request, others step back to focus on strategies that will satisfy the majority of their customers rather than the one squeaky wheel. Creating a customer-centric supply chain in the apparel industry requires a careful analysis of your situation with targeted strategies to satisfy customers at each stage.

Perform a Cost-to-Serve Analysis

A cost-to-serve analysis is a valuable tool for analyzing how much you're spending on each product and customer, as well as how much each customer spends on you. A solid cost-to-serve analysis will include expenses associated with warehousing, transportation, sales and marketing staffing, and order management. This information will help you spot areas where you're overspending so you can streamline the process and reap big savings.

In a customer-centric supply chain, these savings are passed on to the customer. Rather than padding your own bottom line with strategic in-house improvements, you'll reach out to your customers and offer discounts for their assistance in streamlining the supply chain. For example, you might offer a discount if the customer switches to less frequent, but larger, deliveries.

Work to Improve Forecast Accuracy

An inaccurate forecast results in capacity challenges as needs spike. Keep your forecasting as close to the end user as possible. Forecasting at the level of the plant, supplier, or distribution center can give you some smart insights, but these won't offer the most customer-centric results. If you work closely with the customer to develop your forecast, you'll strengthen your lines of communication while building a more efficient and affordable forecast for production and delivery.

Prioritize Reliability

Too often, companies associate customer satisfaction with immediate one-off solutions to their requests. This is far more expensive and less efficient than encouraging customers to stick to their service agreements and adhere to contracts. While it's not easy to say no, turning down unreasonable requests from one customer will result in improved overall reliability for everyone in the supply chain.

The apparel industry is highly time-sensitive. Not only does it change with the seasons , it can experience a significant and immediate impact from something as small as a celebrity donning a certain style and making the masses mad for a similar look. You can't afford to slow down your supply chain with constant one-off problem solving. Keep reliability and consistency at the forefront of your customer-centric supply chain.

Incorporate Cultural and Geographic Concerns

Address the unique needs of each customer to make sure you're delivering the best service possible for their supply chain. The apparel needs for customers in Florida, where they can swim year-round, will differ dramatically from those facing a frigid winter in the north. You'll also see a different set of demands centered around cultural holidays. Social, economic, and environmental needs in a particular area will all impact the customer's needs and how you should respond to them.

A customer-centric supply chain will keep the focus on the end point. Contact The Apparel Logistics Group to help you analyze your own supply chain to see how customer-centered your activities are and how you can improve them.

Posted: 1/26/2017 2:27:19 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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