Sourcing Journal: The Consumer at the Center of Everything
The entire prototyping process would need to change. 3-D virtual product development technologies would need to be embraced. Buying decisions would need to be more decisive, perhaps without seeing or touching physical prototypes in some cases. The technologies and the processes to enable this transition exist today; the advice, guidance and implementation help are available, and some forward thinking retailers are already there.
Supply chains themselves would need to shrink and get closer to where the product will be sold. Zara’s high sell-throughs and margins not only justify manufacturing close to home, they enable it. Factory automation technologies from companies like Softwear Automation, whose sewing robots (Sewbots!) were assisted in their development by an investment from none other than Walmart, will make it much more cost-effective to manufacture much closer to where a brand intends to sell their product. Adidas just announced that their Speedfactory, where they will once again make shoes in Germany using advanced robotics, will start manufacturing in the US within a year, and eventually in nearly every location where they have customers.
With today’s empowered consumer and their sense of immediate gratification being catered to by both traditional and non-traditional retailers, brands and designers, we are facing our future. And we are speeding towards it much faster than we realize. This weekend marks the annual Formula One race in one of the most beautiful, intriguing settings in the world, Monte Carlo. It’s a great analogy for retailers and brands today. We’re going 200 miles per hour, and that small wall in the distance is only a hundred yards away. Will we crash? Or will we figure out how to maneuver at high speed and survive, maybe even win?
Read the full article on Sourcing Journal.