When comparing today's retail environment with the past, it isn't surprising that the industry remains focused on improving visibility in the supply chain (again). Anyone who reads the daily news realizes the greater complexity of our business. You've got fast fashion, global competition, changing demographics, seismic political shifts, demanding consumers, product innovation, and throw in an NGO or two pushing for ethical sourcing and sustainability (rightfully so). So many things are affecting apparel and footwear companies, many of which brands have very little control over.
There are things companies can have better control over: supply chain visibility for one. Generally, visibility means that you know what's happening throughout the product life-cycle of your goods and where it's happening at any given time. Moreover, while there are different levels of visibility, I think what we want to discuss is full end-to-end visibility – I like to think of it as a transparent glass pipeline – that allows access to every piece of data on a given product at any given time. And it's essential beyond being called a "buzzword," because full visibility allows a company to deliver their products to their customers on-time and with the level of quality that people have come to expect.