We sat down with Srishti Dhawan, Head of Supply Chain at SupplyCompass, and Liv Khan, Co-Founder of The Lacuna Collection, to ask the top supply chain and finance questions when it comes to managing a fast-growing fashion brand. Get a glimpse into best practices on managing global supply chains, cost-saving tips, working with international manufacturing partners, keeping finances in check, and more.
How can I reduce sampling costs and get samples right the first time?
Srishti: There are a few things I’d recommend:
Have absolute clarity
The number one factor in reducing sampling costs sits with the brand, not the factory. Brands have to be prepared with a clear strategy, range plan and detailed specifications before going into sampling. In my 13 years of experience of working with retailers and supply chains, I have seen how a lack of clarity on designs results in a back and forth in sampling, cost negotiations and longer lead times.
If you’re waiting for your specifications to turn into a physical sample to understand how your designs will look, the chances are you will waste a lot of time. Most brands use 2D CAD designs to understand what their designs will look like; however, with emerging technologies you can create digital samples first with the exact fabric draping and details you require. This helps understand the fit which typically takes time to get right. Going down this route means fewer surprises when you see your physical samples.
"When your first sample is finished at the factory, schedule a video call with your manufacturer and go through the sample with your technical specifications. It is easier for a factory to fix issues before the sample leaves the factory, thereby avoiding unnecessary courier costs and re-making of a new sample. "
Your technical specifications need to be detailed and must include requirements around materials, components, dimensions, packaging and labels. If you’re more on the creative side with less technical knowledge, I would recommend carrying out a risk assessment of your designs with your manufacturers – they can highlight areas where changes will be required to make your designs more production feasible. The right time to have this conversation is when you send your technical specifications to the factory and after your first sample has been produced.
Track all communication
This is probably the most vital point once you’ve received your samples and are sending back comments to your manufacturer. Most brands use Excel, Powerpoint and emails to track communication with factories. This can lead to errors in sampling and production. We recommend using a platform like SupplyCompass to track all communication and give access to every stakeholder across the supply chain to a single version of the truth.
How do I work with new partners more digitally, with the aim to reduce travel costs and get around travel restrictions?
Srishti: In the light of COVID-19, technology has come to the forefront as a saviour. We don’t quite yet know when travel restrictions will ease and it will be safe to visit your manufacturers, especially if they are overseas. Think of the reasons why you visit your manufacturer: to build and develop trustworthy relationships, see their showrooms, get assurance on quality controls and see if their unit is set up to certified quality standards. It is possible to carry out video conferences to build trust and get a virtual tour of the showrooms and sampling floors. Factories can also show their product development virtually through video conferencing and send across samples you want to see in person. For more in-depth auditing, third-party audits can be carried out by local teams.