It’s no longer enough for apparel retailers to slap a “Made in China” label on the goods they are sourcing. Now, shoppers want to know data about every point of the product lifecycle.
Retailers stand to benefit from this level of traceability within their inventory, as they can get a better read on the origin of individual product SKUs and where they will be going next in the supply chain. Dan Doles, president and CEO, Mojix, Inc., a provider of supply-chain traceability solutions to the retail and industrial markets, says the company aims to deliver this item-level context to not only finished goods, but also to the raw materials used to make them.
In a Q&A with Sourcing Journal, Doles shares the current challenges and opportunities apparel brands face, explains the two ways traceability can be addressed and recalls how the pandemic has accelerated the company’s evolution.
Sourcing Journal: Given Mojix’s perspective of the overall market, what are the top trends or issues currently facing the industry?
Doles: There are many challenges, but luckily, traceability solutions can help overcome most of them—with significant ROI on certain aspects.
Brands will namely have to reduce inventory levels and leverage omnichannel, while improving flexibility and reactivity, both for new products and replenishment. Additionally, they are now tasked to meet digital adoption standards, with digital shoppers seeking an increasingly sophisticated shopping experience.
But these companies also have opportunities lying ahead, in that they can provide more transparency to end costumers by sharing sourcing information and/or information on raw materials and prepare for the rise of the secondhand market.
SJ: What major problems does the Mojix platform seek to solve in the supply chain?
Doles: Mojix’s Ytem platform aims to solve traceability challenges all along the supply chain. To do so, items are no longer treated as passive, interchangeable objects, but made to become unique. We bring about an industrial world in which every single unit of a series—whether a raw material or a finished good—has a unique ID. As an example, a single “red T-shirt” from the “red T-shirt” batch has its own digital identity enabling lifecycle track-and-trace from manufacturing through to distribution centers, stores, and sometimes even after sale.
Traceability means exactly that: our clients know where their items are, where they’re coming from, which business process they’ve been through, and where they’re supposed to go next. Each time an item’s status changes, it’s registered as an event. We collect event data into our platform and process it along our lifecycle data model, allowing us to know at any point in time the status and history of an item.
SJ: How has your team’s strategy changed in the wake of the pandemic?
Doles: The pandemic hasn’t changed our strategy and vision, but it did accelerate our roadmap execution. Because some projects were set back due to lockdown, we reinvested our efforts into feature development. For instance, we released the first version of our service for the food vertical and enhanced our Asset Tracking feature sets. Our core cloud platform components can serve any market—data models and business logic are indeed based on the same basic principles, whichever market we address. Additionally, we solve the specific challenges of certain verticals via our APIs, applications and BI layers.
SJ: Where do you feel the biggest market differentiators are now for Mojix?
Doles: The traceability market can be addressed by two main types of solutions: point solutions and item-chain solutions. Point solutions are usually focused on solving a single problem, most often inventory management challenges. Item-chain solutions explore wider opportunities, based on a multi-dimensional data platform.
Mojix has designed an item-chain management platform enabling us to cover an item’s entire lifecycle, thus offering greater opportunities for designing and adding new business processes along the way. There’s no better system to ensure full adaptability to brand context and the corresponding supply chain. The ability to go farther, to enrich a brand’s item-chain data with third-party data and to publish selected information into a public blockchain is a key differentiator.
Lastly, as for other SaaS markets, the technical vision and capabilities remain a significant differentiator. Most importantly, when you aim at supporting global brands with a footprint extending worldwide. Mojix offers a multi-region cloud platform, with a scalable and services-based architecture. This key, core architecture is already in place for our Ytem product.
SJ: What is your perspective on 2021 in the fashion/apparel industry, particularly as everyone aims to bounce back from the pandemic?
Doles: The fashion/apparel industry legacy model has been significantly impacted, but the pandemic has also created momentum for digitization and new consumer models. Brands will have to rethink their retail footprint and find new retail ROI drivers. However, they’ll also have to continue investing in their supply chain to meet a diminished, but more digital and educated form of demand.