All Phases of the Supply Chain need Technology to Cope with the Evolving Challenges of Retail

How technology's plays a role in actively involving the final retail consumer and the quality of the information made available to them

Inspiring events, breakthrough technology, new connections and new and creative ways to tell retail’s story. A short list and the defining words behind NRF’s Retail Big Show in New York City that took place earlier this month. An expo event held annually by the National Retail Federation considered by many the passport into the world of retail. The flagship industry event by the National Retail Federation goes back to the early 90s and has grown to today host over 900 exhibitors across different segments including big data, e-commerce, merchandising and POS. A three-day long event with a mission to bring together top minds, instruct, and introduce innovative new solutions to the retail community worldwide. 

Last week, members of Dedagroup Stealth and its Bsamply and Zedonk divisions got the chance to attend the 2023 edition of the Retail Big Show which this year also welcomed back its Innovation Lab and Startup Zone dedicated to the growing technology behind the future of an AI driven society, and the breakthrough technology and radical thinking solutions of young companies that everyone will be talking about tomorrow. 

The decision to attend the event comes as part of Dedagroup Stealth’s aim to expand our product offering to markets abroad with particular attention to the United States. introducing our 30-year know-how working with many of the industry’s leading brands in fashion and luxury, to the iconic labels of the US market. In addition, with retail being in a certain sense the last step in the fashion industry’s value chain and often the entity with both direct and final contact with the consumer, being able to use and optimize technology to bridge the gap created by retail between the early-stage suppliers, and the final consumers is becoming more and more fundamental for making key information regarding the original source and make up of a product available to the end user.

The role technology plays in actively involving the final retail consumer and the quality of the information that is made available to them depends, however, on how procurement is structured in the earliest stages of the brand’s production process. Deda Stealth’s, new and evolving Bsamply Network (and portal) and S-Connect project will allow brands to track and download all necessary data from the initial raw material to the final production and distribution of the finished garment, helping to consolidate and provide a system for tracking necessary and key data required in today’s changing world that continues to go in a more transparent and sustainable focused direction. It means however, our team must be open, analytical and aware of these changing needs and as a result of the new technologies available within the industry on a global scale, as they relate to supply chain and as a result, sustainability. 

‘’If you’re a retailer, you no longer have a choice to think about the environment. “It’s impacting the supply chain,” states Insider Intelligence Analyst Suzy Davidkhanian in commenting key takeaways from the year’s NRF event. Demand is also on the consumer side, she mentions. While they’ve long said they were concerned about the environment, Davidkhanian pointed to one April 2022 IBM Institute for Business Value study that found 51% of consumers say environmental sustainability is more important to them than it was a year ago and 49% are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products. Although the numbers are not immense, they are exponentially growing and so is the need to make the information regarding their sustainability available.

In fact, how to keep up in a world that keeps on changing, supply chain and sustainability were three key themes that repeated themselves throughout the three-day-long event. Keynote speaker, Chris Brooks, Director of Sustainability of Walmart focused his discussion on the importance of leveraging suppliers’ sustainability stories, taking advantage of the information we are able to share and exchange between the brand, its suppliers and retailers to generate the most impactful results. Chairman and CEO Anish Melwani of LVMH brought technology into his discussion, mentioning the company has always been about innovation rather than looking for synergies, and more recently, that includes NFTs and blockchain with a particular focus on authentication. His idea and vision for the future lie in exactly that, being able to provide a digital certificate that will trace a diamond all the way back to the mine it came from. An idea not only in line with the industry’s changing needs to increase transparency, accountability and traceability, but his belief that younger consumers will care “more and more” about the source of raw materials. 

As stated by the UNECE, ‘’many companies have a limited view of the network of business partners within their value chain and do not get the full story behind their products. Most can identify and track their immediate suppliers, but information is often lost about the suppliers of their suppliers. It requires the collaboration of all industry partners, the deployment of common approaches and reliable technical solutions.’’

Becky Schilling of Insider Intelligence also commented, presenters at NRF focused especially on technology that helps reduce friction from the customer’s experience. Dedagroup Stealth has in fact began to meet this growing need in tracking the value chain and optimizing technology by expanding its current technology and acquiring Bsamply, a network and portal meant to provide brands from young and small to large and luxury with a digital space to source raw materials and track data and documents more efficiently between them, and the suppliers they work with. The introduction of Bsamply into the Stealth portfolio now means that together with the module S-Connect brands can be provided with an end-to-end solution and enabler of information to track their entire value chain(starting from the raw material) and manage all product and compliance certifications in addition to supplier ratings and other metrics as they relate to sustainability practices. A solution that helps respond to the pressing challenges in the textile industry includes insufficient information about what our clothes are composed of, who made them, and where they are coming from. A solution however that also ‘’ boosts consumer consciousness and empowers better decision making’’ as the Generation Climate Europe discusses; proving information on the source of the raw material is the first but also key step in this decision making.

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