Driving Apparel and Footwear Innovation: Top 5 Takeaways from the AAFA Sourcing Conference

Posted by Kelsey Barker on Thu, Apr, 21 2016 @ 6:11 PM

This year’s Sourcing, Customs and Logistics Conference, hosted in New Orleans by the American Apparel and Footwear Association, was all about innovation – so go ahead and add “innovate” to your to-do list. But what does that mean, exactly? How do you ensure that a multi-national organization outwits, out-produces, and outsells nimble newcomers to the apparel and footwear marketplace?

Luckily, a fantastic lineup of retailers, wholesalers, shippers, service providers and brands shared their strategies for driving innovation, especially in the areas of product development, sourcing, logistics and trade compliance. Here are our top 5 takeaways:

1. Be a master of supply chain, not retail

Take UNIQLO for example. They have mastered the supply chain, with limited, well-researched SKUs, quick time-to-market, and almost no duties – and have seen double-digit growth. Rick Helfenbein, CEO of AAFA, stressed that the “how” outweighs the “what.” 62% of all logistics cost is transportation, a number that only grows with increasing East Coast demand for Asian goods. Also remember that productivity rates matter more than outright cost – while Bangalore suppliers may be cheaper per item than China’s, for example, they may not match in efficiency and output.

2. Be a sourcing pioneer

Asia isn’t the only place to source goods. Africa is one of the world’s biggest untapped resources. By 2035, the working-age population in the region is expected to be as large as China’s is today – more than 900 million people.  While it’s caught the attention of the apparel industry, the continent presents numerous challenges. For example, the area has vast water resources, but lacks the infrastructure to store it. Security in the region also poses a huge threat, as ISIS, Boko Haram, and Somalian pirates add significant risk to many ports.

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Topics: Global Sourcing, Supplier Management, Import Compliance, Supply Chain Risk Management, Product, Production Management

Learn to Ensure Consumer Product Safety at ICPA 2016 Next Week!

Posted by Anthony Hardenburgh on Tue, Mar, 8 2016 @ 2:32 PM

Let’s say you’ve just imported a shipment of hoverboards to sell in the United States. You have screened all trading partners, tracked your shipment, ensured import compliance, and minimized your duty payments. However, your hoverboard isn’t legal to sell in the US just yet – it needs a label, and the guidelines surrounding packaging can be just as complicated as all the other steps you just completed.

Consumer Product Safety regulations and other OGAs exist to prevent customer deception (or facilitate value comparisons) about package contents, ingredients, size, manufacturer, and other concerns.  Any deception or non-compliance can result in heavy fines, revoked license to sell, and unflattering brand attention. So how does a company ensure that it remains compliant?

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Topics: Import Compliance, Product Classification, Product Claim Details and Storage, Product