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Fashion tech needs to be Collaborative · SupplyCompass

Tech needs to be 2-sided and Collaborative
Oct 26 2021

Tech needs to be 2-sided and Collaborative


The fashion industry can be quite one-sided focusing on providing value to brands solely.

However, manufacturers and suppliers down the value chain often get forgotten or dismissed when new innovations come in along with taking on more responsibility and increased pressure to deliver products quickly and accurately.

Flora and Gus, Co-founders of SupplyCompass spent 2 years visiting and speaking to hundreds of factories across the world, understanding their process including the tech they used, and recognizing where the existing system was failing them—hundreds of emails and WhatsApp groups for many different brands and scores of different versions of tech packs are common.

Systems can’t change if value isn’t equally shared. That’s why SupplyCompass was built with features for both brands and manufacturers, with both of them having their own version of the platform, along with their own onboarding experience.

Watch/Listen to Co-Founder + Head of Product, Flora Davidson, explain why tech needs to be built for both parties with collaborative principles embedded that help make the lives of brands and their manufacturers easier.

Video Transcript

So, when we started out at Supply Compass, we understood some of the challenges that brands face in bringing product to market. But we knew that there’s another side to this equation. And so, we moved to India and spent two years living, visiting, speaking to hundreds of different manufacturers and suppliers to understand where the challenges lay in what is inherently an incredibly collaborative process, bringing a product to market. It involves so many different individuals from so many different organizations working together from start of the inception of a style right through to the delivery, into a warehouse and beyond.

And what we understood from this process is that these two parties, who so avidly want to work well together, weren’t actually understanding each other’s problems, challenges, and needs in the right way. We understood to solve brands’ problems, you had to solve the factories’ at the same time, because if you solve both sides’ problems it’s actually value added for both. And I think that what typically has happened is with software is that often people solve problems for one side and it’s at the detriment to the other. And so, really what we wanted to understand in speaking to all these factories is, how could we solve both sides’ problems with the same system? ‘Cause then it’s kind of that creating new value, which you get through a shared system.

We would say like, “What are your biggest challenges?” And they would say “No, one’s ever asked us what our biggest challenges are.” They would say like, “We just do what the brand wants.” And we thought, well, how can this industry move forward if one side of this equation is just doing what the other side wants? ‘Cause that’s not true collaboration and you can’t progress things like that. And so, we sat and we looked at the processes of how they were working with those brands, we looked through thousands of different tech packs in all these different factories, we sat for days and watched how they work, and we just saw this process where they were constantly chasing, trying to keep up with all these constant stream of emails. So, we kind of saw this really inefficient process where they would get hundreds of emails each day from one brand, times that by 20, you’ve gotta hell of a lot of emails that these factories have to be responding to. And then, the brands would be frustrated ’cause they weren’t getting a detail and they were chasing and chasing. All of the brands we’ve spoken to, the number one thing that they say to us is, “We just want to know what’s going on, we want full visibility.”

So, often the immediate response or the immediate objection from brands when we speak to them about our platform is they say, “Yeah, but my manufacturer won’t use it.” And we just say back to them, “Have you ever asked them if they want to use a shared system?” “Have you ever asked them if they like your ways of working?” We know that getting multiple organizations to adopt the same system comes with some barriers, but we’ve thought about that. And we’ve built our entire product and team and onboarding process around that. So, we have a tailored onboarding journey for the brand and for the manufacturer. So, when people say to us, “It’s not gonna work for my manufacturers.” I just think, give it a go. Why not give it a go?

Want to read and view the full Talking Tech series where Flora talks about the specific problems in the fashion industry that SupplyCompass is uniquely solving?

Click the following links to read the full series:

  1. Fashion is Creative, Tech needs to be too
  2. Here’s how Tech enables Sustainability
  3. SMEs need agile, hybrid tech
  4. Tech needs to be 2-sided and Collaborative
  5. You’ve got to get Sampling right!
  6. Enter Collaborative Date-ing.
  7. It’s all about The Style.
  8. The Agile PLM for SMEs
  9. Brands need Structured, Shared Workspaces.
Want to learn about how SupplyCompass can help your brand as well?

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Nayanika Bharadwaj
Sustainability and Marketing at SupplyCompass

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Nayanika is a designer, writer and illustrator whose work spans research, storytelling and strategy for sustainability in fashion. Her interests specifically lie in sustainable supply chains, craft production/innovation, circular economies and design for social innovation. She graduated from the prestigious MA Fashion Futures program at London College of Fashion with a Distinction in 2019, and has researched at and written for Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Fashion Revolution, amongst others.

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