If you are on the product planning side of things, you undoubtedly know about “standard” lead times for product coming from Asia.
But in the real world, we often don’t have the luxury of lots of extra time.
Forecasts aren’t perfect. What if sales exceed expectations, or your size breakdown comes in differently than forecast?
How can your supplier help you expedite product?
Speed to Market: Options for Faster Delivery
It would likely come as no surprise for you to hear “90+ days” from order to ex-factory date:
- 35 days for raw materials manufacturing,
- 10 days for shipping from raw materials supplier to factory, depending on location
- 45 days for manufacturing, or more.
Now let’s look at some options to help you get product faster. It’s all about rethinking the standard ways of doing things, to build in more flexibility and cut time:
- Supply Chain Planning: Sit down with your glove manufacturer and look at the longest lead-time raw material. Can this be reduced? Consider taking a risk and owning more of this raw material, to gain time and add flexibility.
- Inventory Management: When your factory has raw materials as well as finished goods on hand, you gain valuable time and flexibility. Is your glove factory both financially strong enough and willing to commit working capital to build and maintain inventory? Work out how much raw materials, and how much finished goods are needed.
- Factory Capabilities: When product can be shipped complete to your retail locations, with packaging intact, you gain time and flexibility. Does your factory also keep an inventory of your packaging materials on site, and have the ability to print and add UPC and price tickets, hangtags, etc.?
Supply Chain Leadtimes, and the Supplier/Customer Partnership
It’s important to have more nimble options beyond the standard "air it in”. In 2014, a more progressive approach is needed.
These are the strategic questions we should ALL be asking:
- Does your supplier own the factory so he can re-prioritize production?
- Is your supplier willing to own raw materials on core products to cut your lead times?
- How many gloves can your supplier produce in a week?
- Is your raw materials base in the same country as your factory?
- How much does it cost to air in product … maybe that additional cost is worth it, to maintain shelf stock levels, keep your fulfillment rates high, and not lose the sale.
… and the list goes on.
Your glove supplier should be in a position to help, but it takes a strategic partnership:
- Work closely with your supplier on shipping dates and lead-times, and have this planning discussion early in development.
- In an ongoing relationship, your supplier should be willing and able to make a financial commitment to your business, and give you the extra flexibility you need.
- Of course, commitment in a supplier/buyer relationship goes both ways. If the supplier takes an inventory position, who bears the risk when plans change?
When both sides are willing to work as partners, and do whatever it takes to satisfy consumer demand, the whole is often greater than the sum of the parts
Do you have any strategic sourcing strategies to add to this list?
We’d love to hear your ideas and success stories.
And if you have challenges in these areas, let’s talk. Check out our free Sourcing Checklist, for the other questions you should be asking a glove supplier. Give us a shout, or fill out the form below.