Textile Insight

May / June 2018

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18 • Textile Insight ~ May/June 2018 textileinsight.com Alice wants to send money to Ben The first Block is created online and represents the transaction The Block is broadcast to every party in the network Ben recieves the money from Alice The Block is then added to the chain which provides a permanent, nonrepudiable and transparent record of the transaction Those in the network approve the transaction and validate it he need for speed in today's consumer-centric market has supply chain execs re-evaluating sourcing strategies and re-examining supplier relations. How information, materi- als and money flow from one enterprise to the next is rapidly shifting with new business models taking shape built on trust, collaboration, innovation and technology. "The pace of change has been astounding," said John Lund, senior VP, supply chain & operations, at Chico's FAS, Inc. "To achieve speed and innovation that customers expect, we must improve integration with our suppliers." Lund explained that boundaries are blurring between sup- pliers, brands and the customer and roles are fundamentally changing. "Smaller, more frequent production runs will be more common, and working closely with suppliers to read and react to what consumers want is necessary. We are moving towards a world of production runs of one," surmised Lund, who kicked off the recent AAFA sourcing conference in Washington, DC with a keynote titled "Where are We; Where are we Going?" Lund urged audience members to learn to do their jobs in harmony for a common goal. And to think of things as "synchronized swimming rather than having separate swim lines." To that end, it may be more useful to envision a "supply eco-system" rather than a supply chain, according to Lund. "The success of a chain is defined by strength, whereas the success of an eco system is defined by resilience; in a word collaboration." New Ideas to Market The value that collaborative innovation brings to the sourcing side of business was discussed throughout the daylong event. A focus on collaboration has wrought big changes in sourcing strategy at ANN, Inc., parent of Ann Taylor and Loft. "We are lean- ing on our suppliers to be true partners," said Philippa Abeles, SVP global sourcing. Abeles said collaboration is needed internally as well as externally with suppliers. "We have upped efficiency by making goals very clear and finding the right people to work with, from development to production to shipping, and have decreased development cycle by eight weeks," said Abeles who noted the company works with 50 suppliers in eight countries. She gave as an example the decision in 2016 to close a Hong Kong office opened 24 years earlier. The new agent model involves all teams. Now it is a two-way relationship versus a transactional experience, said Abeles, and has increased efficiency and lowered costs. The company is considering 3D tech as a means to achieve similar results; utilizing digital software to develop, design and approve samples is faster than waiting for physical garments. Abeles said her firm is currently is doing a pilot program with Browswear along these lines. Another effort to collapse the supply chain is sourcing more from Jordan, and having built a mill in China and Vietnam. "No longer is it us versus them; we are succeeded together," said Abeles. The Buzz about Blockchain Digital is ushering in tech that can transfer sourcing information faster, smarter and in a more transparent manner. Blockchain technology is often mentioned as the tech to watch in this regard, however, is often misunderstood. A session on the topic at the AAFA conference served as a helpful primer on blockchain basics and practical applications for the apparel and footwear industry. Ty Bordner, SVP marketing & business development, Amber Road, explained that blockchain is a means of distributed leger technology, DLT, that distributes information to a set of computers that aren't necessarily located in the same place, and indeed are likely placed all over the world. What this provides is security. He emphasized that it is important to remember that block- chain, or DLT, is a technology. "In and of itself it does nothing, someone has to build an app that uses it." What it provides is capabilities of "security, muteability – so things can't be changed – and it can't be hacked or reversed," said Bordner. Bitcoin is the most well known app, but many companies are working on much different kinds of apps. For blockchain to work it is important to note the data in the realm, like a supply chain, has to be digital. "I can have a PDF, but it's not structured digital, so we're talking about information that is structured and can be stored in database and communicate to blockchain," Bordner explained. Going forward, companies are looking to develop tech based on blockchain that will move goods across international borders with greater transparency, simplicity and security. O SUPPLY CHAIN | AAFA CONFERENCE Better Together Sourcing Strategies in an Age of Volatility & Uncertainty. By Emily Walzer T "The pace of change has been astounding." JOHN LUND, SENIOR VP, SUPPLY CHAIN & OPERATIONS, CHICO'S FAS, INC. How Does Blockchain Work?

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