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Li & Fung: Six steps to speed up the fashion supply chain

Li & Fung to create the supply chain of the future to help their customers navigate the digital economy and to improve the lives of one billion people in the textile industry supply chain.

Desk Report

Li & Fung are putting purpose at the core of what they do to make a difference along the supply chain and in their communities. Their Goal is to create the supply chain of the future to help their customers navigate the digital economy and to improve the lives of one billion people in the supply chain.

Marc Compagnon, Executive Director and Group President at supplier and distributor Li & Fung
Figure 1: Marc Compagnon, Executive Director and Group President at supplier and distributor Li & Fung. Courtesy Drapers

Marc Compagnon, Executive Director and Group President at supplier and distributor Li & Fung, spoke at the Drapers Fashion Forum on 11 October about the need for speed in the supply chain. This event is the major event for all the fashion industry in the UK.

Campagnon described six steps retailers need to take when taking their supply chain digital.

Adopt a simple approach

Marc Compagnon said, “We are looking at an interesting world when disruption is happening and the changes are pretty incredible. But we look at it as a huge opportunity at the same time.”

“Changes we’re facing include the online effect, omnichannel acceleration, changes in global economics, rising costs, and the growth of data. We are trying to think in a more simplistic way. But it’s hard to be simple, and simplifying what you do is part of the challenge.”

Li & Fung Six steps retailers need to take
Figure 2: Six steps retailers need to take.

Move from cost to speed optimization:

On the supply chain side, the emphasis has always been on cost. However, with so much change occurring in consumer behavior. Compagnon said that the new optimization needs to be for speed. It leads to tremendous results if you do it properly.”

“If you shorten the supply chain, you have more time to make decisions about what to buy. Better decisions mean you buy better, sell more at full price and make more money – it sounds simple, but it’s not that easy to do. Complex organizations are not easy to change. We created three different supply-chain models to cope with the complexity of retail businesses.”

Consider 3D design

He added that the 3D design process could eliminate weeks and months of making samples. “In the footwear business, we started these six to seven years ago – we trained designers in Asia and across the world, and the changes have been dramatic,” he said.

We find brands spend huge amounts of money on the customer side but on the supply chain, people are way behind. It’s still too much of an analog world.

Marc Compagnon, Executive Director, Li & Fung

Uptake has been slow in the industry, but once you do [try it], you quickly understand the power of it. He also added.

Get the data flow right

Compagnon said that getting control of data is crucial.

“We can take a category and examine what’s going on with it. We have analytics groups across the world helping customers to understand what is going on. Customers might have goods in the pipeline, but the trends are starting to change. We can shift to new items if they are not yet cut or sewed, and replace what was going,” he said.

Explore taking 3D to the shopper

There is also potential to take 3D design software into a more consumer-facing environment.

“In the [Li & Fung subsidiary] Peter Black showroom in New York, they can show customers the clothes both digitally and physically. It improves the customer experience and it increases customer loyalty,” Compagnon said.

Think digital, not analog

In enabling customers to compete it is needed to do things differently. The challenges will not go away – they will increase. We need to create new ways to bring a product to life.

“We find brands spend huge amounts of money on the customer side but on the supply chain, people are way behind. It’s still too much of an analog world.”

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