Product Development + Production
Created on:
August 26, 2020

Five Ways Streamline Your Fashion Brand's Supply Chain

A strong supply chain can be make or break for a brand. Over and over again, here at N.A.bld, we saw brands struggle with sourcing materials, finding suppliers, verifying manufacturers and setting up distribution. After working with over 1,000 brands from 39 countries, we’ve gathered some best practices to simplify building a supply chain for your fashion brand. Here are three ways you can build a foundation for a lean, streamlined fashion supply chain:

1. Decide on your model

As we see it, there are three main channels for selling: wholesale, direct-to-consumer inventoried retail (D2C), and pre-order (or pre-selling product). Each of these has its own pros and cons and some of the best brands will use a combination of strategies to get the most out of their logistics and operations (for example, pre-sale + wholesale or pre-sale + inventory). Before you get started, decide which strategies you want to use to sell as these will affect your supply chain.

2. Keep it local

To increase sustainability and speed to market, we always recommend keeping as much of your supply chain as local as possible - whether it’s product development, manufacturers, or other suppliers. Keeping these local reduces shipping time and shipping costs within the supply chain. If you are selling in a traditional wholesale model, sourcing and manufacturing abroad may be an option for you but keep in mind that lower labor costs are often offset by additional costs related to shipping logistics, minimums, and taxes and tariffs that are changing frequently and susceptible to global forces and uncertainty.

3. Source smart

When considering on-demand or quick turn production, you should look to tech-enable suppliers. These suppliers make self-service easier, and when used in combination with the N.A.bld production platform, can automatically update you if materials are low or no longer available. It’s smart to have a backup sourcing option if you are producing on-demand.

4. Automate and integrate

As mentioned in #3, great things can happen when you involve technology in your supply chain! Here at N.A.bld, we help brands generate an Automatic Bill of Material and send real-time updates with with every production order to keep production teams organized and informed.

5. Test and repeat

It’s always worth testing new designs, resources, suppliers to see if your supply chain can be improved over time. For example, perhaps you consider printing your label instead of sewing it  to reduce some time and cost in your process. It’s important to review your costs and execution for your purchase orders to see what works best.

THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP?

Remember sh*t happens. 

Making physical products is incredibly hard considering all the things that have to come together to make your idea or concept a reality. Keep in mind, mother nature, human error, and just plain old bad luck are risk factors you need to account for and don’t take it personally when these things happen. 

To remove some of this risk, we created the N.A.bld platform to give brands a plug-and-play process and supply chain to make the work of launching new product easier. Brands can diversify suppliers, get help with sourcing local manufacturers, and get the benefits of better deals negotiated with suppliers - all with an automated tool that removes a lot of human error. Want to learn more? Schedule a demo! We’d love to talk to you about how we can help your brand.

What ways are you streamlining your production? Let us know!