With the growing need for sustainability and inventory visibility, it’s become crucial for brands to be able to pinpoint goods throughout the entire production process—from raw material to retail.
Tracking the chain of custody allows companies to back up both environmental and social credentials. For one, companies must be able to prove that their supply chain is devoid of forced labor. Traceability also provides a tool for better measuring and verifying the level of eco impact tied to a particular product. Aside from sustainability, tracking goods as they move from supplier to supplier allows companies to circumnavigate and reduce shipping and production delays.
According to Mark Burstein, executive vice president, industry principal at Logility, the fashion industry needs to shift away from reactive supply chains, which wait for a problem to happen before developing a solution. Instead, he argued for a more proactive approach during a presentation at the Sourcing Summit on Oct. 19. “A proactive supply chain actually anticipates situations. It determines what is the optimal response,” he said. “And then when those situations occur, we already know how to execute against them.”
Given the complexities of fashion supply chains—with numerous tiers of vendors often spread around the globe—technology can help to achieve this level of oversight. Logility’s answer to establishing proactive supply chains is a “digital twin.” This concept digitizes each suppliers’ information while also mapping out the links between different vendors. The resulting visualization of a supply chain enables companies to see the progression of a product from farm to finished good.
Tracing where goods changed hands provides proof of authenticity. From a sustainability perspective, it allows companies to create more accurate life cycle assessment calculations on the impact of a particular garment beyond Scope 1. As consumers become more curious about where their clothing comes from, this enables companies to disclose which specific suppliers were involved in the production process, sharing the social compliance story of the people behind the manufacturing.
Digital twins also boast operational benefits for managing supply chain risks. Burstein explained that this tool opens up the capability to see where an issue might occur so that production can be relocated to avoid delays.
“With a resilient supply chain, you can then identify what is an alternate supplier or producer, redirect, and then get your supply chain, the digital thread, back on track,” he said. “Now you have available inventory to make your customers happy, consumers happy and you happy.”