Everyone in the apparel industry is talking about visibility but it’s unclear how much progress is being made in this area. In the meantime, any number of environmental, labor and geopolitical risks threaten to derail brands and retailers that are blindly racing headlong into them.
Gary Barraco spoke with Sourcing Journal about building agility, navigating tariffs and what it means to create a “glass pipeline,” or visibility into the entire supply chain. Barraco is the director of product marketing and business development at Amber Road, a company that develops software designed to improve margins and resolve issues early.
Below are a few excerpts from the discussion.
Barraco on why the speed of business today demands better visibility:
“Agility goes in line with speed. Because you want to be fast but you also want to be able to dodge and move, right? The best way to attain good speed and agility is with visibility. So if you can’t see where you’re going, or what’s going on around you or if you don’t know where your goods are in the supply chain, how are you going to move quickly and beat the competition? You just can’t.”
Why the industry can’t become complacent even if the China threat dissipates:
“Companies need to listen to what’s happening in the world of global trade to understand that supply chain pressures aren’t going away and you need to make a change and be brave and lean in, and wherever y0u shift, realize that it might come with a cost. It might take longer for you to get up to quality or up to speed to meet your customer demands and you need to closely manage your line items when you’re looking at cost reduction.”
How forward-thinking companies are insulating themselves from unforeseen threats:
“They’re using technology to analyze tariffs during early stages of product concept and design… Tariff engineering is done early in the stages of product concept and design so you can kind of take advantage of these new markets and it gives you full visibility into the pre-production stage. It involves making material and components and assembly and strategic sourcing decisions based on tariffs and commodity costs at the time of purchase and production… This type of strategic sourcing decision needs to take, place and the best way to do that is to leverage technology.”