When we talk to people in the textile industry, like brands and retailers, we see that most of these companies have similar goals and similar challenges. They want to create a more sustainable textile supply chain, but they don’t necessarily know how to start.
One of the reasons for this is that textile supply chains are complex. When we look at cotton for example, we see farmers, traders, ginners, spinners, mills, factories and exporters all together in a supply chain, that looks more like an intricate web than a single straight line from farmer to retailer. When a product also contains other materials, leather for example, a supply chain becomes even more complex.
At ChainPoint we build software platforms. If a company wants to start building a platform, spanning its entire supply chain with reporting on a lot of sustainability indicators at once, they run into this problem that they don’t how to start. Therefore, we always advise companies to start small, use information that is already available and start building the platform from there. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
How companies can start
When a textile company wants to start gaining insight in their supply chain, the first step is to onboard their first-tier suppliers. There actually quite a lot of ways to do this. One could enter this manually into a platform or make a connection with an existing ERP system so this information could be entered automatically. Next to basic information such as address information, suppliers should be categorized on company type, such as spinner, factory or farmer.
The second step is to ask first-tier suppliers prove of their existing certifications, both on company level and product level. Examples of this could include ISO standards, GOTS, Rainforest Alliance and more. By entering the end date of a certificate, the platform could send out alerts to let the end user know that a company should prove their certification status again.
The third step is to ask suppliers information about their suppliers and repeat the process above. In this way, the supply chain can be fully mapped, tier by tier. By adding the type of relations between suppliers, their suppliers and subcontractors, companies have gained insight that they hadn't before and they can start monitoring and securing their textile supply chain.
Want to know more?
If you are interested in our textile software solutions, and want to start working on the sustainability of your supply chain you are more than welcome to contact us at any time. You can also meet us at the 2019 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference in Shanghai from 11 – 13 June.