Success Story is a new Sourcing Journal feature highlighting innovative solutions across all areas of the supply chain.
As the supply and demand equation gets turned upside down, it’s more important than ever for retailers to optimize their inventory. Yet many brands are still slow to act in linking with solutions designed to eliminate slow-moving and excess product.
Hanesbrands, which saw nearly $7 billion in total sales in 2019 across its apparel and innerwear names, is reaping the benefits of a platform designed to clear this backed-up inventory through data-driven go-to-market recommendations, while enabling a transparent, cross-functional strategy that allows salespeople, buyers and merchandise planners to have access to the same product information.
Ann Fritchman, chief customer officer for the innerwear business at Hanesbrands, noted that while some of the current supply chain mechanics may have changed under the current Covid-strained environment, the company’s supply chain strategy itself hasn’t been altered since implementing Inturn across its innerwear brands in November 2018—and that’s a very good thing.
“Prior to partnering with Inturn, our processes were very manual, and like any manual process, it tended to be very slow and ran on spreadsheets,” Fritchman told Sourcing Journal. “So the automation that Inturn has provided us has delivered efficiency for the team managing that inventory. It’s allowed us to curate assortment for different customers, which is very hard to do in a manual environment. This way we can take our inventory and curate assortments as to which customer prefers a brand or a category based on their historical purchases.”
Moving from manual to automated has saved the company an estimated 100 days within the end-to-end product journey, whether it’s downloading product information or finalizing an offer with customers.
In some situations prior to working with Inturn, Hanesbrands might not have been able to provide complete product information and images to buyers, resulting in lower perceived inventory value as well as longer transaction periods—buyers sometimes could take weeks to negotiate deals and submit purchase orders that could have been done in days.
Well before the pandemic, the SaaS company enabled Hanesbrands to cut down lead times with off-price partners, accelerating what was initially an average 52-day process to 18.5 days.
With the Inturn platform, Hanes can display content-rich products and clear detail, while enabling users to track products and categories, view negotiation history and calculate optimal offer pricing.
“You can get more goods and offers into the hands of your retail partners more often,” said Fritchman. “That will build a lot of volume and a lot of success.”
Hanesbrands controls nearly 80 percent of its own supply chain, including much of its manufacturing base. With a large portion of sales coming through off-price locations, department stores and mall-based apparel retailers, all of which were closed over a span of two to three months, the Hanesbrands team credits Inturn with enabling the company to evaluate its inventory more closely and decide whether to stop production or pivot to a new offering faster, such as the launch of PPE.
In the second quarter, the company sold $752 million in personal protection garments such as facemasks and gowns to governments, organizations, consumers and retailers. Hanes estimates it could sell more than $150 million of protective garments in the second half of 2020, primarily in the third quarter.
Where Inturn steps in is by centralizing visibility and enabling real-time collaboration across the company’s various brands, teams and departments so all parties can see what inventory needs to be moved, where it is it sitting and what strategies are necessary to take it to market. All inventory is consolidated into one repository, providing the Hanesbrands with access to available stock and buyers with updates on quantity changes.
“Back to that breadth of brands and categories and SKUs, we could look at different customers and say, ‘What do I have in brand A because I know this retailer would want that?’ versus ‘What do I have in men’s underwear in brand B?’ Having that visibility on an automated platform is hugely powerful for us, and really has allowed us to provide more product more often, and internally have line of sight to all the products that we have available,” said Fritchman.
And while getting the right product in front of the right consumer obviously is a major component of the success driven by the Inturn platform, getting a better grasp of the product mix appears to be an equally important measure for Hanesbrands, particularly in an era when markdowns are abundant and retailers have to be more cautious on how they optimize pricing.
Fritchman credits Inturn for helping the company identify a better mix of products necessary to create curated offers leading to higher margins on goods sold.
“This is never a one-conversation process with our retail partners,” Fritchman said. “The automation of Inturn allows them to come back to us with an offer. We see it on the platform, we’re able to react and counter and then they can counter. It speeds that process of back and forth. It gives our finance teams a lot of visibility into the offers that are being made, and they can see how they’re mixing together and what it’s costing us to sell off, so they’re very involved in the process.”
Inturn recently reported that its enterprise software solution is now an SAP Endorsed App, available through the SAP App Center. With the endorsement, the solution will be more entrenched in the SAP cloud infrastructure, enabling data to flow more quickly and easily across different systems.
Since Hanesbrands also is an SAP customer, the company will be able to automatically download final and approved offers into its order management system, eliminating another typically manual process and saving further time.
Fritchman also alluded to the fact that Hanesbrands is always looking for new retail partners that may be interested in the product, and has been in talks with the Inturn team about potential new clients, or even expanding it to other Hanesbrands categories.
“We definitely have the ability to bring on some additional categories to work with Inturn on,” said Fritchman. “We’ve been very focused on the innerwear space, but the activewear and casual space is definitely open for possibility. We’ll continue to refine where we are today but always look for opportunities where we believe our business can benefit from the automation it provides.”