Maintaining quality standards is a rudimentary business goal, but the actions taken to protect product value can have wider implications across a company.
One best practice for improving quality is stronger supplier knowledge and collaboration, according to Rick Horwitch, chief of supply chain & sustainability strategy, global retail lead at Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, during a recent fireside chat with Sarah Jones, senior editor, strategic content at Sourcing Journal. Going past tier 1 and knowing every link in the chain allows companies to not only shore up standards, but also navigate disruptions.
“There’s a lot of conversation now in regards to supply chain mapping as it relates to traceability,” Horwitch said. “But I would argue that is not just a traceability issue; this is now a business and sustainability issue.”
Data—from audits and product tests, plus details on factory capacity and capabilities—is a powerful tool to guide supplier improvements, such as better efficiency. Horwitch suggested that empowering manufacturers can make them “free to then perform at a very, very high level.” As inflation raises costs for everything, having insight into the supply chain can also enable companies to root out inefficiencies and maintain margins amid the squeeze.
Along with quality, another common action item for brands is sustainability. But sustainability’s meaning varies from company to company. “There’s no wrong answer to sustainability, but there’s a lot of answers to sustainability,” Horwitch said. “Sustainability is sort of like world peace—everybody’s in favor of it, but then, how do you go about achieving it? Not so easy, and everybody has their own definition.”
Regardless of how companies approach sustainability, Horwitch noted that eco-friendly practices naturally beget higher-quality products. It also has a positive impact on areas including worker retention and waste reduction.
Another piece of the sustainability puzzle is backing up claims. Bureau Veritas has rolled out a solution to help customers authenticate information. Horwitch noted the proliferation of illegitimate claims, such as companies marking merchandise as eco-friendly simply because it is made of bamboo or making assertions without the proper certifications in place.
“What we are seeing, both in Europe as well as here in the United States, is a proliferation of greenwashing and of regulatory agencies now starting to look at these things on a more global basis,” he said. “So, staying on top of it and managing the noise is going to become a very significant and high priority for retailers and brands.”
Watch the video to hear more about building better quality control practices and how sustainable processes improve production.