DHL CFDA report

With a goal of creating actionable “thought leadership,” the Council of Fashion Designers of America teamed with DHL and Accenture to offer its members a supply chain model of the future — and one that is based on relationships.

The model was presented as part of a study, titled, “The Human-Centered Supply Chain — Delivered by DHL,” which identified four key areas of focus “to anchor insights and opportunities” that are also “driven by digitalization and the increase of e-commerce.” The focus areas include process ownership, relationship building, brand operations and actionable information.

The “supply chain of the future” model is especially useful for emerging designers who are able to leverage technology and the growth of cross-border e-commerce.

Claudia Gorelick, business design lead at Fjord, a unit of Accenture Interactive, said new technologies and changing consumer expectations as well as new business models are transforming the retail industry. As a result, a new supply chain model is needed to respond to these changes. John Jones, senior vice president of design strategy at Fjord, said old processes and approaches simply do not work any longer.

The “old approach” includes siloed functions and processes as well as a supply chain model that is essentially sequential and linear. Moreover, it’s a model where “the consumer and the designer are minimally connected, if at all,” said Gorelick, adding that the new model is interactive, interconnected and puts the designer at the center of the entire process. The outcomes of this new model include steps that are now blended together “and much more integrated,” she said, adding that “planning also becomes ongoing and much more fluid.”

Gorelick and Jones said the new supply chain model empowers designers “to build their networks through collaboration and by using digital tools and new business models to increase their flexibility in an industry that is currently in flux.” Along with the study, DHL and Accenture include a “Designer’s Playbook,” which is a step-by-step guide for doing business in today’s environment.

Greg Hewitt, chief executive officer of DHL Express U.S., said today’s “fashion designers know the frustrations and challenges that occur between the planning of a new design and its ultimate delivery to retailers and consumers. Along the way there are communication failures; delays and changes with source materials; manufacturing problems, and changing distribution requirements. The idea behind the new supply chain is not just to overcome these challenges but to eliminate them altogether, using technology and new shipping and logistics tools to streamline the process.”

The model also encourages emerging designers to take advantage of group ordering and group payment technologies. Collaboration is a key element of the process, the presenters noted. Gorelick said that as “digitalization continues to affect the industry, designers must view the supply chain as an essential piece of strategy and brand-building — and adopt a collaborative, relationship-based mindset with suppliers and partners along the way.”

Mark Beckham, vice president of marketing of the CFDA, said the organization “is always looking to provide its members with new ways of looking at their businesses in this rapidly evolving fashion industry.”

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