Supply Chain Sustainability ServicesSeptember 23, 2019
Times are changing faster than ever for apparel, footwear and accessory goods companies. Online retailing business models are changing the way consumers shop. Free shipping and free returns are drawing more consumers to cyberspace rather than the mall and return rates are on the rise. Consumers are also seeking brands that are committed to the environment.
Supply chains are challenged as well. They must move quickly to adapt to trends and deliver timely product selections that are appealing to the latest consumer demands. Supply chains are also moving or diversifying to new locations around the world putting increased pressures on managing the design, sourcing, production and logistics required to get products to markets. Separately, retailers are being challenged on the reverse end, as online consumers are returning high volumes of product to distribution centers that may not have the ability or capacity to determine what best to do with returns.
Sustainability and Supply Chain Circularity Challenges
Companies manufacturing footwear, apparel, and accessories have one primary goal, designing and delivering high-quality products that appeal to consumers. However, now more than ever, these same companies are examining additional objectives such as sustainability, supply chain circularity and optimal product life cycle into their overall product design, production, distribution and sales process. To have success in meeting these additional objectives, companies may face and meet several challenges.
Raw material selection and sourcing, manufacturing quality considerations, consumer desirability and the logistics of getting product to retailers and consumers are all very challenging tasks with little margin for error. When things go well and mother nature cooperates, products make it to their destination OTIF (“On-time and in full”) as planned, everything works according to plan. However, there are a variety of disruptions or issues that can occur along the way impacting sustainability and supply chain circularity goals.
- Vendor non-compliance – incorrect sourcing or the manufacturing of goods that are not within the specifications of the buyer or brand. These issues are often discovered when the goods have already shipped from overseas and arrive in the U.S.
- Supply chain disruptions – mother nature, poor quality packaging or material handling impacting product integrity.
- Cancelled orders – product does not arrive OTIF, leaving the overseas manufacturer with dead inventory in the U.S. that could be destined for landfill.
- Evolving consumer trends – increased interests and demands for products that consider reuse, recycling, upcycling, and sustainability.
These issues can impact the potential useful life of a product and end up expediting it to a landfill. However, companies are increasingly looking at new ways of doing business to mitigate these challenges.
Rework, Recommerce and Returns Processing initiatives helping to reduce impacts
To address evolving trends, combat the high volume of e-commerce returns and mitigate supply chain disruption challenges, companies are increasingly turning to product rework specialists such as Quality Corrections & Inspections (QCI) to serve as key partners in their supply chain network.
QCI plays an important and evolving niche role in the supply chain network to help companies have an opportunity to extend the life of a product and thereby providing increased opportunities for circularity in the supply chain.
How can QCI Support Supply Chain Sustainability?
Rework Services When vendor non-compliance or other supply chain disruptions occur, companies are faced with rework, liquidate or destruct decisions for less than first-quality product that has arrived from overseas.
Product rework has been a staple of QCI’s services and expertise for over 30 years and today, companies are increasingly examining rework or rebranding of products from a sustainability lens. Rework and rebrand projects have recovered thousands of products every year and can be a viable alternative providing significant value to companies and, decreased volume of products destined for landfills for no essential purpose.
Recommerce Support. One of the hottest buzzwords in the past several years is “Recommerce”. Recommerce and resale revenues have grown very significantly in the past few years. As consumers increasingly look to have a personal impact on the environment by seeking out sustainable fashion alternatives in their buying decisions, brands are responding with innovative recommerce programs that extend the useful life of goods which consumed significant resources to be manufactured in the first place.
With QCI’s skill sets and expertise in repair and rework for all manner of goods, the team at QCI has been increasingly engaged in taking on new projects to handle repairs for specific returned merchandise programs and “upcycling”.
Returns Processing Services. In the area of returns processing, online sales account for the highest return rates in the apparel and footwear industry. Therefore, returns processing is an important aspect for brands to consider. QCI looks at returns as an opportunity to maintain the value of a product through repair, refurbishment, parts recovery, or re-manufacturing. Offering an array of services that can turn returned/damaged goods back into profitable merchandise and most importantly, help reduce the negative impact of returns on the environment is critical for success.
QCI’s team of highly trained QA inspectors have the experience and skills to properly analyze returns, perform repairs necessary to resolve issues, and bring products back to first quality thus allowing retailers to put first quality product back into inventory and resell with appropriate margins.
Reworks + Recommerce + Returns Processing = Sustainability Progress
Oftentimes, unwanted merchandise that does not meet a company’s quality standards or that appears to be problematic to some degree may appear to be a burden. The harsh reality is some brands choose to simply destroy clothes, shoes, or accessories in order to ease the burden.
Supply chain network partners such as QCI can help brands address sustainability goals, recover products, implement new approaches to meet the needs of consumers and extend the life of products.
Contact the creative problems solvers at QCI with your ideas or challenges so that we can collectively examine opportunities to help you meet your company’s sustainability objectives.