Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Daryl Watkins, senior director, procurement and supply chain consulting at software firm GEP, discusses the final mile’s position in customer satisfaction and how his company is supporting its clients’ supplier diversity.
Name: Daryl Watkins
Title: Senior director, procurement and supply chain consulting
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
The retail industry has made significant progress in managing the last mile, which has improved consumer satisfaction. Apparel needs to consider investing in similar capacity—both physical and software—to fulfill the increasing e-commerce demand to improve service, and bring inspiration and joy to their customers.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
I am a price-sensitive consumer with quality in high consideration. In short, high quality at reasonable price.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
Excellent customer service beyond anything demonstrates that the brand values the consumer and appreciates their choice to select their business. This creates stickiness and will be a differentiator when it comes to choosing one brand versus another.
What’s your typical work (or weekend) uniform?
For work, I like to be polished. I will typically rock slim-fit pants that will reveal my fashion socks with a French cuff button-down and blazer. On the weekend, I like to chill in flowing athletic wear that is super comfy.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
I don’t necessarily follow an era for my own choice, but the 1920s would be a close influencer. They wore sharp matching suits, but I prefer to contrast my pants and jackets versus matching. If the situation calls for it, I can pull it off flawlessly.
The ’70s were just fun! Looking at the styles then, you can’t help but smile.
Who’s your style icon?
I think Michelle Obama has done an excellent job of being fashionable without being gaudy. She tends to have an extremely classy look that will cross over into any venue. If we are speaking of male icons, I would emulate Kevin Hart’s style. I don’t think I could pull off everything he wears, but he is never too flashy. Subtle class that still stands out would be how I would typically like to arrive.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
GEP has a family environment that embraces everyone. If you show employees they are cared for and meet their needs, that will translate to client delight.
What can companies learn from Covid-19?
That employees don’t have to be in your face to be productive. Face-to-face is necessary for sure, but a lot less than was realized prior to the pandemic.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
Being agile. You must be able to pivot based on consumer demands and adapt to growing needs quickly. Second, be sustainable. Begin by tracking and being transparent about the environmental impact of your entire supply chain.
What keeps you up at night?
Being prepared. I never want to get caught flat-footed or not be able to address my client’s needs or concerns. So, trying to stay a step ahead and anticipate their concerns keeps my mind churning.
What makes you most optimistic?
Seeing the resilience that has been shown through the many disruptions that have been thrown at us over the past few years.
Tell us about your company’s latest service:
GEP has stood up a practice to grow supplier diversity within our clients’ portfolio. We are designing and implanting programs that will significantly change the landscape of supplier diversity. GEP will analyze our clients’ spend to understand their diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and reporting and develop diversity supplier growth initiatives like training programs and incentives.
The primary purposes of the programs are: to increase the sponsoring company’s market share within the nation’s expanding multicultural/diverse communities, and to increase the number of companies in the supply chain owned by historically under-represented groups, thereby creating wealth for these groups and growing their customer base.