Chain Reaction is Sourcing Journal’s discussion series with industry executives to get their perspective on today’s logistics challenges and learn how their business works to keep the flow of goods moving. Here, Rejean Provost, enterprise account executive and team lead, CBX Software Inc.’s ESG strategy, discusses enabling more efficient collaboration with suppliers for better visibility and forecasting.
Name: Rejean Provost
Title: Enterprise Account Executive, ESG Strategy Team Leader
Company: CBX Software Inc.
What are your company’s latest initiatives?
With headquarters in Hong Kong and offices in the US, Canada, Germany and the UK, CBX Software develops solutions that compress the entire supply chain process. One of our latest initiatives is linked to our goal of simplifying people’s lives in various roles related to product development and procurement. We’ve added several integrations to third-party design tools such as Browzwear, Adobe Illustrator, and CLO.
At the same time, we continue our mission to enable social and environmental compliance by integrating with third parties such as amfori BSCI, Higg, Wrap, QIMA, TUV, SGS and other third-party quality and compliance organizations. These initiatives make life easier by providing a single platform to log in and work on many related tasks.
Our quality and compliance functions have supported the visibility and execution of sustainability initiatives by recording and reporting on compliance requirements. Our solutions help companies understand, track and report on raw material origin, plant compliance, energy consumption, and visibility into multi-tier supplier relationships, all of which help mitigate supply chain risks.
Which industry can teach fashion the most about improving their supply chain logistics?
Other innovative sectors in logistics are the food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries, which have linked logistics to traceability. This is critical today, as the pandemic necessitated more efficient logistics. Amazon and other major e-commerce players, as well as direct-to-consumer companies across industries, have scaled quickly and set a high standard in logistics, especially the last mile.
What are the top things brands and retailers could do (or stop) right now that would immediately improve logistics?
They need to work more effectively with their suppliers on all aspects of merchandise sourcing and development. This is one of the key things that CBX enables: more efficient supplier collaboration and better visibility and forecasting, saving time and money for both buyers and suppliers. For the most part, brands and retailers need to be more aware of the type of products they produce, taking into account the end-to-end life cycle of a product. If they can improve product quality and reduce overstock, fewer products end up in landfills, bringing both social and logistical benefits.
How can technology help?
It’s amazing how many businesses still rely on manual processes, spreadsheets, email, and paper in their day-to-day operations. But we are seeing a much greater focus on digitization at most points in the supply chain. This shift must continue if we are to get ahead of the supply chain risks and disruptions we have seen in recent years. Cloud-based tools such as CBX allow for greater visibility, collaboration and centralization of information, which is now essential. One of the challenges we see is the range of spot solutions and legacy software that cannot be integrated effectively. The promise of technology is the elusive version of the truth, which can only be obtained when all disparate systems work together in the extended supply chain.
When it comes to logistical challenges in the supply chain, there are things that companies can solve and things that are beyond their control. How can the former help the latter?
Companies have long been improving their supply chains, but as we saw during the pandemic and other recent crises, there is still a lot more work to be done. Visibility, traceability and sustainability are key areas that companies need to focus on to bring greater efficiency to the extended supply chain. In the past, too much attention was paid to cost savings. Companies can also control the search for suppliers that are closer to markets, reduce packaging and be more strategic about how goods are stored, picked and shipped. Here technology is essential. CBX integrates nearly every aspect of the supply chain into a single platform, providing the visibility needed to resolve issues before they arise.
Which logistics areas are not getting the attention of the industry it deserves?
The impact of labor issues is significant, including labor shortages and the effect unions can have on efficient supply chains, as we saw in California when dockers went on strike. Working conditions receive media attention when there is a crisis, for example a factory fire in Bangladesh, but we need more insight into the conditions of workers throughout the supply chain. Other areas that need more attention are innovations such as automation, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, efficiency in customs clearance and transport electrification – less reliance on fossil fuels. The big players like Amazon, Target, Walmart and others need to stand up and do more.
When it comes to creating efficiency, there are quick wins and longer plays. What are a few things your company does to help its partners succeed on both fronts?
One of the key short and long-term benefits of the CBX Cloud solution is the transparency and collaboration it enables across the extended supply chain. Organizations realize an almost immediate ROI through the efficiency and visibility that our system offers. These short-term gains are supported by coordinated introduction and training that leads to greater adoption. In the long run, brands and retailers will benefit from a clear product roadmap and the continuous improvement and learning experience gained through successive deployments that are passed on to other customers via the cloud.
We are different from traditional PLM systems in that our system extends from the idea phase of a product to the delivery of the goods to a warehouse or store. We help brands and retailers in a variety of industries expand product ranges, scale private label programs and onboard new suppliers. By eliminating redundant manual processes, such as the widespread use of spreadsheets, email exchanges and information silos, we help our customers bring products to market faster and more responsibly.
Are you optimistic about the state of supply chains?
Despite the challenges of recent years – Covid-19, the invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing economic uncertainty – that have raised the profile of the supply chain function, I remain convinced that we will learn and build a more stable supply chain network. build for future generations. One of the big pluses is the increased focus on social and environmental sustainability, which has come from individual consumers and governments and is now becoming an integral part of businesses. I am optimistic that future consumers will push for better quality, more sustainable, more sustainably produced products from fashion and other sectors.