American fashion powerhouse leading the way by implementing supply chain transparency in record time

Serai’s Traceability solution helps cut time to trace products in half

Background

As one of the most prominent household names in fashion, an American retailer selected Serai to set and roll-out new standards for supply chain transparency. With over 3,700 retail stores worldwide and over US$16 billion in revenue, it was crucial for this company to know exactly where their raw materials were coming from beyond their Tier 2 suppliers - from garment vendors to fabrics - as it continues to lead the charge in responsible and ethical sourcing in the apparel industry.

The challenge: in-house solutions time-intensive, unscalable

With an extensive catalogue of products, the key challenge was deploying a trustworthy and reliable platform that can handle a vast amount of data on multiple partners across the supply chain. Prior to Serai, the retailer’s visibility of their supply chain was limited to tier 1suppliers. They have an incredibly complex supply chain comprising thousands of suppliers up to Tier 4 in multiple countries (India, Korea, China and more), so building any in-house solution to gain full transparency was overwhelming; demanding huge monetary and time investment on in-house resources that would be obsolete in no time and unable to cope with vast amounts of data and change. It was clear they needed a turn-key solution that was easy to deploy, and has the ability to scale and grow with the company across multiple tiers of suppliers.

The solution: a pilot with cotton suppliers

Working closely with the retailer’s supply chain, sustainability, sourcing, innovation and compliance departments, Serai roll-out a pilot starting with four cotton suppliers.

Internal alignment

The first step was to align on the company's vision, definition and direction on traceability. Gaining acceptance and cross-functional alignment of the company’s strategic transparency goals, including a general approach and timeframe, was critical. This facilitated communication and collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders.

Supplier input

The next step was to clearly define the minimum viable data for cotton material traceability for each step along the manufacturing process. It also helped the retailer articulate the definition of traceability with the four strategic suppliers and extended partners involved in this pilot.

Setting data standards made it easier for the suppliers and partners to provide the right documentation to enable batch-level cotton traceability. By empowering everyone along the supply chain to be open and collaborative, the retailer is now able to gain transparency into their extended supply chain, cementing their commitment to responsible and ethical sourcing. At the same time, they’ve set expectations for all members along its supply chain to operate at the same high level of excellence.

"Traceability allows us to identify the source of the fibres and raw materials in every garment, and understand the risks and benefits of our sourcing practises." — Retailer Spokesperson

The results: quick access to data

The pilot has achieved 5 key priorities:

1. Supply chain visibility beyond Tier 2

2. Minimum data standards for proof of material origin

3. Visibility into missing information

4. Awareness of specific vendors involved at various steps in supply chain for each product

5. Quick and simple roll-out using automated processes and data mapping

Before Serai, this retailer was spending over 1,000 hours to manually gather data on one purchase order along its complex supply chain. Thanks to Serai’s Traceability, this time was cut in half. Imagine this multiplied by the number of shipments that need to be tracked.

An example of the supply chain for cotton trousers:

“Supply chain technology must support the evolving needs of both risk mitigation and opportunity development -- you have to be able to play both offense and defence at the same time. With Serai’s supply chain solutions, businesses can now access a rich, data-driven platform to make more informed decisions towards a more sustainable and ethical future.”

4 key outcomes

Knowledge

The retailer’s suppliers at all tiers of the value chain provide the required level of detail for each product.

Partnership

The retailer enjoys an increase in collaboration with suppliers to tackle supply chain challenges and reduce unnecessary work at every tier.

Ability to act

The retailer is empowered with realtime alerts and notifications to make informed decisions on its supply chain

Credibility

The retailer’s supply chain is progressing towards being an ethical, responsible organisation, giving credibility to all involved.

Conclusion

All this data on their supply chain opens up a world of possibilities for the retailer. With sustainability being a key priority for the company, the ability to collect and compile detailed data on their products will help them tell exactly where a specific garment was made, the amount of water that went into producing it or its carbon footprint.This feeds into their ESG goals and helps mould future sustainability initiatives.

"It’s important for us to make a statement about the impact our clothes have on the planet. It’s a powerful experience for a consumer to know exactly how and where the garment they’re wearing was produced, who made it, or its environmental impact." - Retailer Spokesperson

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