Innovations in Sourcing, Part One:
Digitization in the Supply Chain
In my last article, I outlined three important trends that are shaping the future of retail, and therefore, sourcing.
More specifically, I talked about how customers are now demanding more personalization, more speed, and more transparency in their retail experience, thanks to the stunning success of Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) businesses, which are largely fueled and enabled by data.
So, in the next few sessions, I’ll take you through some of the latest innovations that are capitalizing on these trends and will help suppliers and manufacturers thrive in This Brave New Retail World.
Although this won’t be a comprehensive look at every development on the radar today—unfortunately, the internet and its attention spans aren’t well-suited to that—I’m excited to share examples of where the world of sourcing is going.
Coming out of this series, my goal is to leave you with a framework you can use to: (1) review new ideas you hear about, and (2) evaluate the companies who are delivering these “next generation” sourcing solutions.
ERPs: Using Data to Fuel Businesses
What do SAP, Rootstock, and MS Dynamics have in common? No surprise to many of you, they’re all examples of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions on the market today.
Newer to this space?
In short, ERPs are systems used by organizations to manage day-to-day business activities, such as procurement, project management and manufacturing. These systems tie a slew of business processes together and enable the flow of data between them.
What’s more, ERP systems eliminate data duplication and provide data integrity with a “single source of truth,” because they collect and categorize an organization’s shared transactional data.
Over the last decade or so, ERPs have been the solution of choice for organizations looking to grow and scale effectively.
But now, just like retail, ERPs are also evolving with striking speed.
We’re starting to see a whole new generation of ERP systems that are more powerful and nimble . . . more customized to the needs of various industries . . . and more focused on shared and mobile data.
Even better, you can find one of these “new gen” systems in the sourcing world.
Inspectorio: A Software Platform for Quality Control and Compliance
Inspectorio, as the name suggests, focuses on supply-chain inspections, an area of retail logistics that still relies on paper-based practices.
Inspectorio is transforming two key inspection processes—quality control and compliance monitoring—by making real-time data available to brands, retailers, vendors, factories, and inspection agencies. The technology uses both artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) and to minimize human intervention, decrease delays, and reduce inaccuracy.
In short, Inspectorio replaces the linear approach to inspections with a digital one.
The Old Linear Model
In the linear model, information relating to quality control and compliance is collected manually, then passed from one link in the chain to the next. This process is slow and fragmented, prone to error and inaccuracy, and anything but transparent.
Worse yet, this approach is the wrong fit for today’s retail, which is defined by increasingly shorter fashion cycles, price pressures, and calls for ethical manufacturing and sustainability.
Simply put, the linear model-is too inefficient to satisfy these multiple demands.
The New Digital Model
Enter Inspectorio. It allows retailers, brands, vendors, and factories to digitize their quality control and compliance monitoring processes, using a cloud-based web and mobile platform.
With Inspectorio, you can manage the booking, assignment, and inspection processes and customize the workflows for each, on a mobile platform, using predefined standards.
In addition, Inspectorio converts data generated during the inspection process into easily accessible analytics. These analytics give retailers, brands, vendors, and factories a “common language” they can then use to make improvements.
Moreover, if you subscribe to Inspectorio, you’ll have access to a broader ecosystem that combines your data, anonymously, with that of other subscribers. This means you’ll be able to leverage knowledge from both inside and outside your particular industry—and connect and collaborate with a new and more expansive network.
This data can also help you understand how you compare to your competitive set. You’re leading the pack? Great – add that to your marketing page. Opportunity to improve? Maybe not great – but you know the delta between you and your competitors. And can now get to work on action plans to improve – before your clients look to move their business.
Put it all together, and you can see how Inspectorio empowers you and other subscribers to do business in a fundamentally new (and digital) way.
Choosing Your Next Digital Tool
So now, if your curiosity has been duly piqued, and you want to take the digital dive with a platform such as Inspectorio, let me offer you this advice:
- Take the time to research the tools that are available.
- Embrace flexible platforms that will allow you to integrate your data anonymously with that of other users.
- Build stronger data analytics capabilities into your organization now, in order to make the most out of these new platforms, their real-time collaborative processes and the community data you now have access to view.
Yes, you’ll need to do some homework, but you’ll be amazed to see all the possibilities for your organization’s future.
In my next article, we’ll look at another promising sourcing platform that’s built around sustainability. You won’t want to miss it.