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Collaboration Throughout the Supply Chain

By Alex Berryman

After the supply chain disruptions of COVID-19, brands are realizing collaboration with their manufacturers is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ but a necessity.

Simply put, collaboration is two businesses working together to plan and execute business operations. When done well both brands and suppliers expand product offerings, streamline fulfillment processes, and increase profit margins; creating more traceability and agility in their supply chain.

In this blog, we will outline 3 steps in which a brand and manufacturer can build a collaborative relationship. However, while we are focusing on the brand/manufacturer relationship, these principles can be applied to relationships throughout multiple levels of the supply chain.

Collaboration: A Case Study

At Purnaa, we work with many fantastic brands that share our vision for quality manufacturing that creates a social impact. One such company has taken their production to the next level by pursuing a highly collaborative relationship from the beginning.

Early on, the brand invested in a relationship with Purnaa, visiting our facilities and relaying key information about their long term goals and capacity. At that time, they needed a greater quantity of products than we were able to regularly produce. Because the brand set clear expectations and was willing to invest in training, Purnaa was able to develop a production process to increase capacity to meet their needs and do so at a much higher quality level than their previous manufacturer.

A second key issue was identified: the customer needed their products delivered in small, flexible batches, but sourcing material in the smaller batch quantity was going to be expensive. To reduce costs and allow flexible reordering among many styles, the brand invested in bulk material for multiple Purchase Orders (POs), having the material stored at Purnaa’s facility. This reduced logistical cost, streamlining workflows for both parties and created continuous production for Purnaa employees.

Finally, the brand needed faster and cheaper sampling of future styles. By establishing mutually agreed upon guidelines limiting product changes and material types for new styles, Purnaa and the brand created a unique sampling process to quickly and cheaply develop new styles. Many of these systems are different from Purnaa’s normal operating practices for customers but because this brand approached us for a long-term, collaborative relationship, we were able to tailor our services to their needs.

Collaboration is the key to a brand getting all they can from a manufacturer, creating a powerful win-win relationship.

How to Collaborate With Your Manufacturer

Step 1: Select the Right Partner

  • Evaluate your manufacturer’s current and future capacity and services. Consider incorporating these into your growth strategy. Using multiple services from one manufacturer creates a streamlined production process and more touchpoints for collaboration.

  • Learn about your manufacturer's goals and values - Every business is evolving, so get to know the goals your manufacturer has and assess how they may overlap with your goals. These will be the drivers for collaboration, with both you and your manufacturer recognizing the key benefits of the partnership. Examples of these include sustainability, operational or profitability goals.

  • Are you the right fit for them? - Consider your role in your supplier’s wider business. Are you a major customer or are you a smaller client in their wider client pool? Manufacturers do have favorites, bending over backward to keep certain customers happy, therefore are more likely to collaborate. Evaluate what aspects of your business fit well into your manufacturer’s business and request collaboration accordingly.