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Modern supply chains help retailers please fickle customer
Sep '12
Mr Craig Sears-Black
Mr Craig Sears-Black
The world of fashion is becoming more and more unpredictable with each passing day. It is becoming increasingly difficult for an apparel or fashion retailer to keep up with the fickle customer. Consumers demand greater choice and easier ways of buying and receiving goods – and what’s more, expect exceptional value. How to make all this possible? 

“It can be made possible only by having a modern and efficient supply chain”, says Mr Craig Sears-Black, MD (UK and Ireland) of Manhattan Associates. Manhattan Associates is a US-based global solutions provider for organizations intent on creating enduring market advantages by leveraging their supply chains. It helps companies master the increasing complexity and volatility of their local and global supply chains.

Today, a retailer or apparel brand relies on efficient and highly sophisticated supply chains to deliver to a high street outlet, designated stores or to the door of the customer. Most fashion retailers have a multi-channel presence but inventory is locked into silos and invisible across these channels. This results in missed sales because of a lack of visibility. 
Explaining the evolution of supply chain in fashion, Mr Black said, “The evolution of supply chain management over the last twenty years has been remarkable in many respects. Its impact on the way fashion retailers conduct business, interface with suppliers and customers, and manage the whole process of satisfying demand has transformed. 
“From procurement to products on the shelf or delivered to the door, companies now realise they need to manage this more flexibly to compete and generate profit. The cardinal sin of retailing is to have an empty shelf. Most retailers are well aware of the perils of a stock-out and the impact persistent failures in merchandise availability can have on the bottom line. 
“However, in a retail environment that is becoming increasingly complex and multi-faceted, the issues associated with ensuring a full shelf go far beyond simple inventory visibility. Fashion retailers have been quick to understand the value of taking greater control of their supply chains, which is essential when dealing with the short windows of the fashion season”.
In earlier times, fashion retailers designed their systems to solve a technical problem. Now they are being designed from an operations standpoint. The increased role of technology means the end of disparate systems and localised installs. Retailers now want centralised, well structured data centres with corporate IT governance, security and integration that rolls up into higher level management reporting systems.

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