The increasing importance of shorter lead times and production flexibility, are making brands to recognise the strategic role that buyer- supplier relationships can play in developing an efficient supply chain for competitive advantage.
With fast-fashion players and online stores entering the scene, the fashion apparel industry has been altered tremendously. Businesses are brainstorming to meet tech savvy millennials’ demands which take us back to the need to achieve shorter lead times and production flexibility. Modern-day buyers want products quicker than ever before, which means suppliers need to up their game and deliver the goods even faster. This puts the emphasis on developing a more efficient buyer-supplier relationship.
Working with one of the leading fast-fashion brands in Asia, we have outlined key factors that can help you develop a win-win buyer-supplier relationship.
- Strengthen the buyer-supplier bond
Achieving faster time to market starts with getting everything to work as efficiently as possible, right from trend prediction and procurement of fabric, through production and delivery, to uploading high-quality images to websites. Working more closely with your suppliers is one of the factors to consider for achieving the speed and flexibility. Include your suppliers in your weekly/monthly design meetings to touch base them on your range development and discuss ways to improve further. See them as trusted partners by sharing sales data – that means they’ll get the scoop on what’s trendy and could start to anticipate your needs before you place any orders. Should your supplier be based abroad, try and set up face-to-face meetings at the start of every season.
- Plan ahead
What’s in vogue today might be out of style tomorrow – that’s the beauty of the apparel industry. It’s also why planning ahead is vital, such as having yarns and fabrics on the floor and blank garments can be used to react rapidly to the latest trends. But to up your hit rate, know your facts: what the trends are, available opportunities, customers’ tastes, etc. Sales can be boosted by listening to clients’ wants and determining how to tap into that. Test that trend and scale winning styles much quicker.
This is where a trusted supplier with a good network of fabric and trim suppliers becomes crucial. Focus on having fewer suppliers with more significant roles in your business. Be smarter with key fabrications to produce various styles from one fabric. This will help you to enhance your relationships with mills and suppliers, plus give you a price advantage.
- Recognize and respect one another
It’s not surprising that the buyer-supplier relationship can become intricate, as each party wants to maximise their own time, resources and cash investments. Clear the air and jumpstart a mutually beneficial relationship by understanding each other’s business needs, but also recognizing each other’s success. For instance, while the buyer is looking to get a fair (not always lowest) price, the supplier ensures he is covering costs and, of course, making a profit. It should not always be in the buyer’s interest to negotiate down to the very lowest price; the result can be less trust or loyalty from the supplier.
Keep in mind that the customer is the communal end goal. And, once again, make sure to build trusting relationships with your key suppliers so that both your and their businesses respect one another’s expertise and flourish.
- Identify your clients’ wants and needs
Not that trend sites and catwalk shows aren’t important, but your real research comes from the everyday world: from overhearing what people have to say about products in fitting rooms to watching how they co-ordinate and style garments.
And don’t discount the need for your suppliers to also understand your customer. With that knowledge, they become more integral to your business. Work closely with your suppliers by collaborating through the design- and sourcing processes and involving them in customer events. This is sure to afford you a wealth of opportunities and options to trial.
With over forty years of experience, Ecico has been successfully supplying apparel to brands and retailers across the globe. Our flexibility across product categories, as well as deep understanding of production and quality control process, provides absolute peace of mind to our clients.
We take our customers through the entire development process, based on a thorough understanding of their end consumers’ trends, tastes, and styles. Our efficient in-house sampling capabilities allow us to transform sketches into samples within 2-3 days, with capacity to produce 200-300 samples per month.While we are in charge of the development, production and delivery aspects of the supply chain, our clients have ample opportunity to grow their brands.
For more information on Ecico’s commitment to development, production and delivery as well as an in-depth look at some of our most popular products (including outerwear, knitwear, trims, fashion essentials, and more), visit our website now.