Leveraging the power of customer reviews

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Leveraging the power of customer reviews

Consumers have always had the power to vote with their wallets and decide what they do and don’t buy. But in today’s online world, they have the power to not only influence what they buy but what others buy.

Empowered by the connectivity of social networks and the democratization of information, consumers are taking control of where, when, and how they engage with brands. This has effectively given consumers a role in the supply chain as they demand more personalized products and expect brands to adapt to their needs.

Now they have been given a voice, consumers are increasingly willing to share their opinions publicly and seek out what others have to say. In some categories, consumers are reluctant to make purchases without independent recommendations. This has not only disrupted the traditional purchasing process but puts additional pressure on brands, who need to ensure they bring to the market products that live up to their promises.

According to a report from the technology company PowerReviews, customer reviews have become the single most important factor when making purchasing decisions, ranking above other elements such as price and recommendations from family and friends. 

How to make customer reviews work for your brand

One of the key benefits of reviews is that this feedback lets brands know whether a product is relevant to its audience and whether it’s better than its competitors’.

Although positive reviews can naturally benefit brands in enormous ways, negative product reviews can have drastic impacts. They can not only affect the sales of the product but can escalate to the point of harming the brand image as a whole.

That said, bad reviews also provide an opportunity to improve and show customers that the brand is actively listening and willing to bring improved products to the market that aligns with customers’ quality and safety expectations. Customer reviews can also help find niches in the market yet to be explored, based on what customers feel is missing in a product or would be nice to have.

Navigating the masses of online reviews and identifying real issues and their root causes to make valuable improvements is not always easy. It might require support from a third party who can assess and identify issues and establish the appropriate recommendations. 

Turning negative reviews into positive outcomes

At API, we help our customers improve quality and safety at the product development stage to meet consumer expectations through a dedicated program that uses five steps to:

  • help brands and retailers listen to and understand consumer feedback
  • identify the causes of bad ratings
  • establish recommendations for product improvements

What are the benefits for brands?
  • Better and differentiated products
  • Increased quality and safety
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Supplier empowerment
  • Better budget allocation

Interested in finding out how API can help you bring better products to the market? 

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How to get your outdoor furniture summer-ready for next season

Summer is just around the corner, and as customers get their gardens, terraces, and balconies ready for the balmy months, outdoor furniture brands and retailers are already preparing their collections for next year’s season. Demand for outdoor furniture has soared as a result of the pandemic, but the industry hasn’t escaped the supply chain crisis that began in 2020. Two years on, the journey from raw materials to the end customer remains challenging and lengthy.

While increased demand is great news for the outdoor furniture industry, this has led to a backlog of orders and tasks that has been difficult to manage. While business is returning to normal in prominent manufacturing countries like China, Vietnam, and Indonesia, manufacturers are still facing delays and the scarcity of raw materials needed to build the furniture. Furthermore, once the product is ready, it still needs to reach the consumer, and shipping times remain long with container shortages and products getting caught in the supply chain traffic jam. With no option to delay the outdoor furniture season, products must arrive on time, or businesses risk losing customers to competitors.

That said, the arrival of products on time isn’t enough to satisfy increasingly demanding consumers. According to the Outdoor Garden Furniture market study by Fact.MR (Feb 2022), consumers desire outdoor furniture that is:

          Resistant to climate conditions

          Good quality

          Durable

          Insect and mold resistant

          Crack-proof

          Sustainable (using eco-friendly materials and processes)

What does this mean for brands and retailers? Businesses need to operate speedily while ensuring the quality and fit-for-use of their products, which means that getting things right the first time and anticipating mistakes has never been more crucial.

How to ensure quality outdoor furniture from the beginning

The best way to get outdoor furniture products right the first time is to detect issues as early as possible in the supply chain. The easiest way to achieve this is to go upstream and anticipate risks from the earliest stages of raw materials and manufacturing.

Key points to look at include:

          Ensuring you have the right design

          Ensuring product compliance

          Ensuring the right production process

          Defining the right control plan

Utilizing the support of a third party can help brands and retailers address these challenges while relying on an independent expert to secure product quality and fit-for-use. This will reduce issues at the end of the supply chain, avoid delays, and satisfy customers with products that arrive on time and meet their expectations. 

At API, we provide comprehensive expert solutions for outdoor furniture. With more than 25 years’ experience and a portfolio of international brands and retailers that trust our knowledge, our suite of solutions is dedicated to securing the quality, safety, and performance of outdoor furniture products across the entire supply chain from the earliest stages of development. Some of these include:

          Help during product development: Ensure better products from the early stages of development through:

Ø  Raw material traceability

Ø  Suggestions on sustainable processes

Ø  Suggestions on product improvement

Ø  Validation of control plans, marking, product characteristics, golden sample

Ø  And more

 

      Design/prototype review at the factory or lab: This includes expert reviews at the factory, showroom, or at our network of laboratories at the moment of product selection, including conformity criteria, risk and issues anticipation, and recommendations for improvements.

 

      Sample validation: Validation of a final sample before production will define the model to follow and ensure the rest of the production is manufactured according to the brand specifications.

 

      In-production process assessment and root cause analysis: This aims at understanding the processes for improved finished products with a high focus on identifying, assessing, and improving the manufacturing methods critical to quality and safety to prevent failures.

 

      Physical, mechanical, and chemical compliance testing: Ensure the safety and quality of your products through:

Ø  General safety tests

Ø  Stability

Ø  Strength and resistance

Ø  Fire resistance

Ø  Restricted substances chemical analysis

Ø  And more

 

       Fit-for-use and performance testing: Evaluate your products’ performance and durability, including:

Ø  Resistance to aggressive environments

Ø  Corrosion, UV aging, rain and water resistance, heat resistance, etc.

Ø  Usage resistance (scratches, stains, washing, tearing, metal finishing adherence, etc.)

Ø  Product feel and support

Ø  Textile performance

Ø  And more

 

      Recycled polyester testing: This scientific method verifies and quantifies the amount of recycled polyester in products to ensure what you bring to the market while supporting your marketing claims.

 

          During production inspection: Inspection of the finished goods at 5% or 10% of the production completion will identify issues early in the production line.

 

Interested in finding out more about how API can help your brand with our adapted outdoor furniture solutions?

 


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An empowered supplier is a competitive ace card

Brands and retailers can have relationships with a great number of suppliers, which can reach in the thousands for the bigger players. When the volume is that high, it can be difficult to think of individual suppliers as anything more than a transactional necessity for the manufacturing of hardline goods. But brands and retailers that see their suppliers this way may miss out on what their more reliable and advanced suppliers can offer them.

Increasing numbers of brands and retailers are looking for ways to empower their suppliers, but this is easier said than done. Effective buyer and supplier collaboration is not only about open communication across the entire supply chain, it’s about enabling the suppliers to feel they can share ideas and make recommendations as the true owners of hardline product quality.

While working with empowered suppliers is the ultimate goal, the path to getting there isn’t always straightforward and should be broken down into smaller goals. Some of the most common challenges brands and retailers face when looking to empower their suppliers include:

  • Easy to say, but not to do
  • Time-consuming
  • Empowerment is based on trust but needs a system for monitoring
  • Reluctance from some factories
  • Unclear quality liability

Supplier empowerment: Where to begin
It’s important to keep in mind that empowering your suppliers means being in direct contact with them. Using intermediaries that muddy the waters can complicate the task and make it more difficult. Another question to ask is whether all your suppliers can be empowered. To answer this, you need to have a clear understanding of your supply chain. The factories most likely to align with your expectations will be the more strategic and trusted ones with a long-term approach. These are usually factories with a solid QMS and with whom there’s already fluid communication, a solid investment, and projects demonstrating growth to make this commercial relationship last.

You can start by asking some simple questions:

  • Are you working directly with factories or through vendors?
  • Do you have top factories that you work with?
  • Do you have long-term partners?
  • Do you have a stable sourcing strategy? Or do you shift countries frequently?
  • Do you create partnerships with your manufacturers?
  • What incentives will you bring to the factory? Will you bring more orders?

As essential as it is to understand where you stand before launching an empowerment program, it’s equally important to make factories understand the benefits for them. Among other elements, advantages for empowered suppliers include:

  • Less external control
  • Cost and time savings
  • Improved quality processes and production output
  • Improved partnerships with customers that can result in more orders

Supplier empowerment: Implementing an effective program

Empowering suppliers also offers significant benefits to brands and retailers of hardline goods. It allows for better resource optimization, going further upstream, and doing more quality assurance, ultimately reducing costs and allocating budget to areas of risk. The final objective would be to replace third-party inspections by shifting quality ownership to the suppliers. This would increase efficiency and ensure continuity, even during disruptions like those we saw in the last couple of years.

Brands and retailers with a solid quality management team can put all this in place through their internal teams, allocating time and resources to train and monitor their selected suppliers. That said, this sort of program, while worthwhile, isn’t easy to implement. It’s a time-consuming process that requires constant follow-up and a strong and comprehensive setup. Continuous monitoring is also necessary to ensure that factories are qualified and maintain expected quality standards.

Brands and retailers have the option to bring in additional resources and use a qualified third party to take charge of the program instead of allocating it to an internal team.

A 7-step program: The ‘Factory Certified Auditor Program’

At API, we support our clients’ supplier empowerment strategies as part of our global risk-based approach. We’ve implemented a 7-step program, the ‘Factory Certified Auditor Program,’ designed to empower the best-performing suppliers to perform their own inspections. The 7-step program covers:

  1. Program introduction to vendors
  2. On-site assessment
  3. Validation and training
  4. Examination
  5. Correlation & probation
  6. Certification
  7. Monitoring

Why should brands and retailers follow this program?

  • Expert guidance: Industry experts introduce additional resources and external inputs when developing and implementing the program.
  • Flexible and reliable: Training is prepared by industry experts according to customer needs and what’s already in place with multinational brands.
  • Continuous monitoring: Regular monitoring ensures that factories are well qualified and maintain good quality standards.
  • Increased quality, lower costs: Externalization of training and alignment with vendors aim to shift quality ownership in harmony with brand requirements.
  • Neutral partner: An external, neutral agent can intervene as needed with no conflict of interest.
  • Complete or partial manager participation: Managers can partake in 100% of the program or only the stages requiring reinforcement.

Interested in learning how API can help your supplier empowerment strategy?

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Sustainability science: ensure your recycled polyester claims are genuine

According to Precedence Research, the recycled polyester (rPET) market is expected to hit US$14.23 billion by 2030, driven by soaring demand for sustainable products from consumers, governments, and NGOs. The use of rPET in consumer goods is no longer a trend but a reality in many categories, including toys and furniture. What started with soft toys containing stuffing made from rPET is fast-evolving into other uses. Danish toy giant Lego has announced its first prototype bricks made of rPET from discarded bottles, and IKEA has launched a range of kitchen furniture with plastic films made out of recycled bottles. Many other furniture brands are producing products made from rPET, including chairs and stools, storage boxes, bathroom accessories, and more.

Amid this rise in environmentally conscious consumerism, sustainability has become a powerful marketing tool in a crowded marketplace. But as green consumers become more informed and critical, brands and retailers must be able to back up the use of rPET in their products with proof to avoid risks of reputational damage and noncompliance. Until now, the primary way to verify the inclusion of rPET in products was to rely on declarations and documents from suppliers and third parties. By betting solely on someone else’s information, however, brands risk greenwashing (claiming something as sustainable when it isn’t) and breaching regulations (the EU and GRS-V3 impose a minimum recycled polyester content of 20%).

What is recycled polyester, and why is it so popular?

To create virgin polyester (PET) –the world’s most common plastic—crude oil and natural gas are extracted from the earth and heated to form a molten liquid. The liquid is spun into fibers to create polyester fabric or molded into plastic containers. These products aren’t biodegradable and will persist in the environment, even as they eventually break down. Recycled polyester (rPET) originates mostly from post-consumer PET bottles that are melted down and re-spun into new polyester fibers. One tonne of rPET saves 11,100kWh of energy—the equivalent of two years of energy consumption for an average household. Each kilogram of mechanically recycled polyester also represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70% compared with virgin polyester.

A scientific solution to verify recycled polyester

The only way to be 100% sure that the amount of rPET in your products matches what your brand claims is through reliable scientific testing. As part of a continuing commitment to helping brands achieve growth through sustainability innovations, API and Worms Safety Laboratories have pioneered an innovative solution that detects and quantifies rPET in products and materials to prove its existence and avoid greenwashing. The accurate testing method is based on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology, which is highly sensitive, robust, precise, auto-calibrated, and not affected by additional chemical substances such as dyes, viscose, or others. In simple terms, the process targets the presence of isophthalic acid (IPA), which is added to PET to give specific properties to the raw material. This superior testing method uses NMR technology to compare the IPA content in each sample to the average IPA content derived from a reference database of bottles collected in Europe, China, and India. More information about the rPET testing can be found here.

More accurate than any other method

Other methods are available to measure IPA content, including Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, Raman, Liquid Chromatography, and Gas Chromatography. However, common disadvantages of these processes include the generally higher uncertainty of the testing equipment and the sensitivity to other substances present in the sample. The solution developed by API and Worms Safety Laboratories is highly sensitive and specific, with low detection limits and greater certainty. The PET bottle reference library is continually monitored and updated, and any changes in PET quality on the market is reflected in the test results.

Interested in learning more about how this solution can benefit your brand?

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The drive toward sustainable packaging

We live in an era in which sustainability has never been more important in every step of the supply chain. Today’s consumers increasingly demand products that have a reduced impact on the environment, which includes eco-friendly packaging. In the toy industry, this has driven major manufacturers like Hasbro, Mattel, Lego, and MGA Entertainment to make pledges to reduce their packaging and make the switch to recycled or eco-friendly materials.

We’re seeing the same pattern in other industries, such as furniture. Swedish giant IKEA is aiming to eliminate plastic packaging from most of its products by 2025. Players such as Amazon have also joined the movement, with its ‘Frustration-Free Packaging’ that helps brands produce less waste than traditional packaging by redesigning their packaging, eliminating waste throughout the supply chain, and ensuring that products arrive undamaged on customers’ doorsteps.

The goal of these initiatives is to tackle the harmful impacts of plastic packaging on the environment in favor of alternative solutions with less impact.

The problem with plastic

Each year, around eight million tons of plastic waste end up in the world’s oceans. Forbes has reported that plastic trash is found in the guts of more than 90% of the world’s sea birds, in the stomachs of more than half of the world’s sea turtles, and is contributing to the deaths of whales. It’s predicted that, by 2050, the mass of plastic in the world’s oceans will exceed the mass of all the fish that live there. Plastic packaging can take thousands of years to decompose in the environment and also takes a great deal of energy, water, and other natural resources to produce.

These sobering figures have made many consumers deeply concerned about plastic packaging finding its way into the environment, and eco-conscious consumers will choose brands that are working to address this impact over those that aren’t.

The role of legislation

Alongside pressure from consumers and NGOs, multiple laws and regulations are being introduced to find a solution to the plastic problem.

Many governments have formulated systems that support a circular economy and reduce their national waste. The extent of these requirements varies among countries, but overall, we’re seeing increasing numbers of regulations aimed at reducing the use of packaging and promoting more sustainable packaging materials.

In Europe, the Waste Framework Directive establishes measures for dealing with waste, while the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive intends to harmonize the management of packaging waste and prevent or reduce the impacts of packaging and packaging waste, including by setting recovery and recycling targets.

There are also regulations specific to certain nations, such as the UK’s plastic packaging tax that came into force on April 1, 2022. The UK Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) affects businesses that manufacture or import plastic packaging, including packaging that already contains goods (such as plastic bottles containing beverages). The tax aims to encourage the use of recycled rather than virgin plastic in packaging (when permitted) and stimulate the increase in recycling and collection of plastic waste. You can learn more about it here.

In March 2020, France adopted Law No. 2020-105 Regarding a Circular Economy and the Fight Against Waste. This law aims at minimizing waste and promoting resources to be reused as much as possible. The economic model targets low consumption of nonrenewable resources, the reuse of waste as a resource, products that have a longer useful life, the recycling of 100% of plastics, and less wastefulness. The law also sets the goal of recycling 100% of plastics by 2025 and the end of single-use plastic packaging by 2040.

In the US, there are also initiatives to reduce plastic consumption and packaging, such as the California plastic waste and labeling bills. These propose several laws that make labeling less misleading and shine a light on the responsibility of packaging producers to find alternatives to single-use, non-recyclable plastics.

The packaging landscape is complex, with growing numbers of regulations and standards to keep in mind that collectively aim to achieve a more sustainable future. With adequate guidance and clear visibility of targets and requirements, brands can prepare to adjust their processes as appropriate and ensure a smooth transition.

At API, we can help you comply with these and other packaging requirements while supporting you in bringing better products to the market. Interested in finding out more?

 

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How purchasing departments benefit from better quality management systems

The harshest judge of the quality of a product is your customers. As a households goods quality manager, it is your responsibility to ensure the systems and procedures you have in place, run as smoothly and effectively as possible. 

In this blog post, we look at the role of a quality manager and the benefits of adopting quality management systems as a part of your supply chain strategy.

It may be necessary, to begin with, an appropriate definition of the role of a quality manager to help put perspective on how they can assist purchasing departments with their quality systems;

A quality manager’s role is “concerned with monitoring and advising on the performance of the quality management system, producing data and reporting on performance, measuring against set standards.”  

Understanding the role of a quality manager leads into understanding what a quality management system (QMS) is:

“A QMS is a set of policies, processes and procedures required for planning and execution of a product or service.”

Quality management systems - Management-1.jpg

The purchasing department of any organization has many functions from procurement of raw materials all the way through to the load testing of various household goods through to policy compliance. Each of these components requires the leadership and technical skill and know-how of a quality manager to ensure the entire procedure is run effectively and according to set quality standards.

Quality managers can improve the quality systems within purchasing departments by ensuring there is a set of quality standards and metrics that need to be achieved, these standards can be anything from load testing results, to the delivery times of material or of the end product. It is essential to work closely with purchasing departments to develop relationships and collaborate with suppliers. This will have results for the quality of your systems and your end product.

Check out our comprehensive guide on optimizing your quality assurance systems.

ISO 9001: 2015

ISO 9001: 2015 is an example of a QMS, which is a set of requirements a supplier needs to comply with to consistently meet specific requirements and that they also meet a specified set of regulations.

Applying this ISO standard can have significant benefits for your brand, let’s take a look at some of the key benefits it can have:

1. Improvement of your credibility and image

Quality management systems .jpg Every brand strives to increase their credibility within the global market, this standard can help you maintain that competitive advantage, as suppliers who have this standard are often selected over and above those who do not.

2. Improvement of customer satisfaction – At its very core this standard is about the improvement of customer satisfaction, through thorough planning and efficient implementation where the end user is satisfied with the functionality, quality of the product to the way in which it was delivered.  

3. Better process integration – By understanding and analyzing your processes you will clearly be able to find improvements that need to be made. These are based on hard that is collected to make these improvements to your procedures.

4. Improve your evidence for decision making – Evidence-based decision-making is based on hard data. Decisions can then be made based on data which can allow for proper allocation of resources and in turn having cost benefits for your brand.

5. Create a continual improvement culture – By instilling a continuous improvement cycle within your buying office, you will not only increase your outputs, but also the quality and standard of your procedures and end product, and also creating that customer satisfaction.

A Quality Management system is essential to ensuring quality household good products and the processes that come from your purchasing departments.

This will provide accountability and sustainable relationships with your suppliers as they strive to meet a set of global standards. This can have far-reaching implications for your brand.

What is your experience in adopting a QMS within your purchasing departments?

 


 

Are you ready to begin optimizing your quality procedures?

 

Just click the button below to request

your FREE Quality Assurance Optimization guide!

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A Supply Chain Management System For An Optimized Supply Chain

Global retailers have large complex supply chains, to efficiently manage these they have to adopt a variety of tools and software to ensure an effective supply management system. In this blog post, we take a look at a few of the tools global brands use to manage this supply chain complexity.

1. Technology

Using technology as part of your supply chain management is becoming essential to remaining globally competitive. It can be used to for real-time tracking of your orders, to real-time inventory updates. The analytics that you receive enable visibility, early forecasting of potential risks and early identification of systems that may not be working. Technology is used to simplify your supply chain, thus reducing operational expenses and overall timing.

  • Dako, a UK Furniture retailer uses Transportation Management Software (TMS), such as STREAM which is a particular technology that can be used to track shipments, map routes and also keeps track of inventory in real-time, minimizing supply chain challenges.

Supply chain complexity - supplier partnerships .jpg2. Strategic partnerships

By creating an emphasis on supplier relationships, it becomespossible to establish collaboration with the moving parts of the supply chain. This is done through clear communication of goals and expectations, through stakeholder buy-in which creates a vested interested in the outcome of the quality of the product. This, in turn, fosters a relationship which results in system innovation and supply chain transparency.

  • Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is driven by consistent, clear interactions between the supplier and buyer, SRM programs build newcapabilities that enable strategic sourcing and procurement. Effectively applying SRM as a part of your strategy can help achieve greater quality in your product and a faster time to market.

Supply chain complexity - warehousing.jpg

3. Inventory management tactics

Managing inventory is all about balance. Making sure that you don’t have too much inventory thus face the risk of increased storage costs and a longer time to market having an effect on your return. You also need to make sure you don’t have too little inventory forcing people to shop elsewhere for a similar product. Both sides of the equation can have detrimental effects for your brand. Here we look at two inventory management tactics that are applied by two of the biggest global retailers:

Check out our comprehensive guide on optimizing your quality assurance systems.

  • Cost per touch:  This strategy is employed by IKEA, and is centered around the idea that each time a product is touched within the supply chain process, it is charged accordingly. This tactic empowers the customer and also brings them into inventory management. This system has encouraged customers to go as far as collecting their product from the nearest IKEA warehouse as well as building their item at home, therefore reducing the number of times the product was touched and reducing the end costs.

`supply chain complexity quality control .jpg4. Quality Control

Often times the quality department or team is over-looked when trying to optimize the supply chain for procedural efficiency. As a good quality control manager can help to minimise human errors within the production processes. The aspect of quality affects nearly every step in the supply chain process from raw material inspection to the final product. You may want to take into consideration the value of these departments working together as they can provide overall supply chain process efficiency, saving you time and procedural expenses.

5. Focus On Core Competencies

Your brand may not have the expertise to effectively manage quality systems. Therefore it may be of benefit to outsource the management of your quality procedures to a trusted quality provider. There are many benefits to this approach from the time it takes to testing a product as they have the right technical skills which has a faster turnaround time to also having great cost benefits.

The above tactics help reduce the amount of moving parts that encompass the supply chain, with fewer moving parts, one can reduce potential risks and costs over time. This creates an efficiency and a level of quality in the supply chain that was never there before.

A supply chain management system consists of complex procedures; the above tools seek to simplify these through greater visibility and transparency creating a level of quality and efficiency that is globally competitive. Which of these tools have you adopted? What is the greatest efficiency that you have experienced through adopting any of these tactics?


 

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Quality Assurance Procedures That Can Be Optimized For Supply Chain Efficiency

Do you need to optimize your current quality assurance procedures? Are you unsure of how to get started? Determining the current position of your quality systems may be a difficult one to get your head around with complex procedures to analyze and the newest technology that is just too expensive to get your hands on…In this eBook we look at how you can optimize your current systems through strategy and thorough analysis and planning, that will put your brand in a position for opportunity and growth.

Download our FREE guide on optimizing your quality assurance systems. Doing this will not only increase your brand’s product quality, but it will also enhance the credibility of your brand increasing your competitive advantage.

Check out our comprehensive guide on optimizing your quality assurance systems. 

In this guide you will be able to:

  • Clearly define the quality challenges that you are currently facing
  • Clearly define solutions that you can apply to your current systems for improvement
  • How can you implement the solutions into your quality systems
  • We also take a dive into how global brands are adopting different quality solutions and what things we can learn from them

You don’t have to spend a fortune trying to get the latest and greatest technology to plug into your supply chain.

It’s all about being strategic and analyzing the unique challenges and needs within your supply chain and then adopting a technology to suit exactly that.

quality assurance procedures

IKEA, for example, needed a way to reduce their supply chain costs, so they did, through analysis and planning they came up with a concept called Cost-per-touch, this method is based on the number of “touches” a product receives throughout the entire supply chain process right up until a customer buys the product. This concept allowed them to reduce their costs, but also helped them achieve a better inventory management strategy.

This concept through strategic planning and analysis was also innovative in its application.

It will be important to keep an eye on what global brands are doing so that you may make continuous improvements to your supply chain to maintain that competitive advantage through a fully optimized QA procedures.

 

Are you ready to begin optimizing your quality assurance procedures?

Just click the button below to request your FREE Quality Assurance Optimization guide

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Where Regional Household Goods Brands Fail and Global Brands Succeed

Over the years there have been shifts in the supply chain, where gaining a competitive advantage through your entire supply chain can be essential to your success. It has become virtually impossible for a company on its own to reach this position. Today we see the power of the market in the customer’s hands, therefore without an agile, flexible supply chain, you may not be able to keep up with the demands of the market. It is an ever-changing landscape, that is defined no longer by the designer. In this blog post, we take a look at where regional household goods brands fail and what successes they can take from global brands.

Regional Failures

There are many reasons that can cause a regional retailer to experience supply chain failures, here we dive into a few of these reasons:

1.Risk Management strategies – Risk is a part of any and every supply chain. Regional retailers often put out fires all along the supply chain instead of preventing fires thr ough risk prediction. Many companies do not understand the value of having a risk management strategy, there is often the misconception that it is a costly strategy to have in place, while there is a cost to implementing this. Take into consideration what risk can cost you, more or less than having a strategy in place? This is multi-faceted and requires a strategic approach.

2.Delivery delays – With customers defining market trends and the speed at whichRegional household goods brand - delivery delays.jpgthey need products. You may find yourself at a loss with a delivery delay. Contingency plans are essential to ensuring your product gets to market. A contingency plan allows you to manage this without causing your brand any damage. These kinds of delays cause customer dissatisfaction pushing them to buy your product elsewhere.

3.Inventory Management – Inventory management is a complex procedure from ensuring you have enough inventory on hand to ensure you don’t run out of inventory in your warehouse. Both sides of this coin can have detrimental effects for your brand. Regional brands do not often know how to manage this balance effectively rendering the product either unwanted or leaving customers unsatisfied. Regionally inventory management is often done manually; this causes inconsistency with too much room for human error. This kind of procedure can often be costly and time-consuming. 

Check out our comprehensive guide on optimizing your quality assurance systems

Global Success

Global brands, have much larger and more complex supply chains to navigate and therefore face the same potential failures regional brands do, but this larger, more complex web of intricacies requires an efficient, well communicated operating procedure for every step of the process.

Regional household goods brand risk management.jpg1.Risk Management – Global brands take every procedure into account when understanding possible areas of risk. From sourcing to logistics to inventory management, each of these areas affects one another. If there is a problem with sourcing, it inadvertently affects the logistics of the entire operation. Therefore a brand such as Amazon needs to have a Risk Mitigation strategy that spans the entire operation.

An example of a risk strategy would be the adopting visibility tools that are used to keep track of various shipments in real-time that also enable you to take action in the case of a delay.

2.Delivery Delays – Global brands use software with real-time updates on their shipments. This technology helps to identify any problems or deficiencies in a timely manner. While this may not be preventative, it does make sure there are no surprises. To prevent these kind of mishaps, using a Transport Management System which promotes cross network communications.  

 3.Inventory Management – When it comes to managing inventory on a global scale it is safe to say that softwareRegional Household goods brand - inventory management.jpg should be used. Automating this processes allows for transparency and an up to date inventory procedure.

Zoho Inventory is software that enables you to manage and keep track of your orders and inventory with real-time updates, keeping you ahead of your supply chain.

The above challenges don’t have to mean the end for your brand.

Begin assessing which of these strategies will provide the biggest benefit to your supply chain, while some of them may cost you to put in place, ask yourself whether or not it may be worth it in the long run. We cannot predict the future or the way in which supply chains function under pressure, but you may want to find yourself in a position where you have the best possible strategies to deal with whatever challenges may come up, minimizing the potential risks your entire operation may face.

The above-mentioned failures are to enlighten the perception around these specific strategies, with clear communication, an effective strategy and a plan of action you are likely to begin addressing those pressing supply chain challenges that you face.

“Are you a brand that has struggled with the above mentioned?”

“Were you able to address your challenges successfully?”

Tell me in the comments section below

Need more help? 

Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about implementing a global quality assurance system below.

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4 Supply Chain Best Practices that Regional Brands can Adopt

We live in a fast-paced environment with trends coming and going, before there’s even been a moment to catch up. As a regional quality director with increased supply challenges, one may need to begin looking to how global brands are managing their supply chains to start transforming local operations to remain a strong competitor at the top of current trends. In this blog, we look at what supply chain best practices you can begin implementing from a regional context.

Collaborative Strategic Sourcing 

This approach highlights the collaborative approach of engaging suppliers in long-term partnerships with active involvement in the decision-making process which allows room for feedback and information sharing from your suppliers. This creates an investment in the end product or outcome which ensures full client satisfaction. This, in turn, can lead to constant improvements along the supply chain. The more strategic you are with the optimization of your supply chain the more you are then able to reduce various risks that come up along the way. Decision Making supply chain solutions.jpg

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming essential for all supply chains to adopt. Suppliers who adopt CSR are taken into stronger consideration over and above those who do not. Brands increasingly want to partner with suppliers who can provide them with environmental compliances and want to know what green initiatives they run to partner with. One of the best ways to begin understanding how to implement these solutions regionally is to look at a global brand that has had its fair share of supply struggles. Herman Miller is a good example to do this with. Supply chain solutions - CSR.jpg Miller is seen as instrumental in paving the way with greening the supply chain from using a green design for their products, to ensuring they use less harmful chemicals within the products. The only way they were able to do this was through gaining supplier buy-in. They asked their suppliers to begin complying with the zero-waste policies within their procedures.

Herman Miller has used greening their supply chain as an opportunity for innovation. They have been able to create new uses for material and product that were otherwise disposed of to the benefit of their product and brand. These kinds of innovations have huge benefits as they continue to pave the way as a strong globally competitive brand with green initiatives at the fore of every process they follow.

As consumers increasingly dictate what manufacturers make, the power of adopting CSR and green initiatives as part of your strategy can have global results for your brand.

Check out our comprehensive guide on optimizing your quality assurance systems.

Third Party Quality Assurance

Your supply chain is directly linked to your brand image; it is, therefore, imperative that you have an efficient supply chain management strategy. You may find that your brand could benefit from adopting third party QA. The challenges experienced along your supply chain are often full of complexities, through outsourcing all of your procedures to a compliant QA company your brand’s image is taken care of. The QA solutions that are offered are tailored specific to your needs and the ever-evolving changes.

Technology

Global brands are known to adopt various technological solutions to Supply chain solutions for regional brands .jpgeffectively manage their supply chains. Regionally there is the thought that this may be too expensive to apply. When it comes to technology, it is too easy to jump to the first software you find.  It is essential to understand what you need technology to do for you, so that you may select the type of technology that is best suited to your needs. By doing this, you are ensuring that this is not overly costly for you and maximizes its efficiency for you.

These are only a few of the supply chain best practices that can be implemented regionally. Always review your procedures to work out what will work best for you, don’t find yourself in a position where you have adopted the first solution you’ve come across with no noticeable evidence of the benefits it has for you and your quality procedures. The point is to optimize your supply chain for the best possible outcomes for your brand. What solutions do you use to optimize your supply chain?</span

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