Benefits and Risks of Outsourcing to Low Cost Countries
Apparel and luxury value chains have come up with strategies so as to be cost competitive, increase the income, and expand the market for their goods. Outsourcing the end-to-end supply chain means that activities of an organization are carried out by an external company that specializes in these activities (Pickles et al., 2015). More so, a company can pay attention to its key competencies satisfy consumers, and be more flexible in maintenance and operation of its supply chain.
Apparel and luxury industry is very volatile today, frequent changes in expenses, risks, and demands for materials and goods as well as the changes in factors like international business environment are some of the challenges affecting the end-to-end supply chain. Anything that halts or reduces the movement of material, as well as the apparel and luxury goods, are considered a problem to the supply chain (K3SoftwareSolutions, 2017).
Apparel and luxury companies have been able to expand their supply chain to many different countries and migrating to outsource manufacturing which has seen reduction in the cost of production. This strategy has promoted division of labor throughout the end-to-end supply chain by allowing company to concentrate on principal business undertakings. The organization is allowed to concentrate on its core competencies while specialist suppliers are given non-core undertakings (Handfield, 2017).
Suppliers who can carry out the processes more efficiently are tasked with this role and therefore outsourcing in low cost countries helps make the supply chain more effective. International brands have been allowed to create a completely responsive supply chains as well as bringing apparel and luxury products of low price to the shelves of stores (Handfield, 2017). Low priced goods are as a result of using external company’s expertise, knowledge and links to make cost-effective plans. Besides, time is economized since the time taken in designing, and delivering new clothes and luxury products to the market has been reduced from over a year to only a few weeks (Handfield, 2017).
Through outsourcing in low-cost countries, companies have been able to achieve effective processes, low-priced goods, and consumer satisfaction leading to outstanding performance and strategic advantage. Supply chain also becomes more flexible as the company has freedom to choose who they can do business with. Also, outsourcing enables the end-to-end supply chain of the organization to be more traceable (Robinson, and Hsieh, 2016).
Despite the benefits, an organization exposes their brands to great risks through outsourcing because it becomes a supply chain against supply chain. When going after cheap labor, apparel and luxury companies have been putting immense pressure on the suppliers who in turn are ready to reduce their invested capital to have low costs (Handfield, 2017). So as to compete with other businesses in the low-cost countries, suppliers forwent investments and labor practices that reduces the safety standards in a company and this is likely to damage the brand image of the apparel.
Poor working conditions in the apparel and luxury industry so as to maintain common local codes in low-cost countries is a disadvantage to the supply chain (Handfield, 2017). Another challenge to the supply chain is the abroad manufacturing delays. Apparel and luxury stores that are in western countries are progressively relying on the clothes and accessories from countries like China. Most newcomers to the industry may be found off guard by the delayed manufacturer (K3SoftwareSolutions, 2017). Moreover, damaged shipments and some that get lost is another menace to the apparel and luxury industry. Possible unseen costs such as inflated shipping price can result.
Besides, there are possible setbacks to the supply chain for instance late receiving of inventory leading to consumer dissatisfaction, loss of income and problems in the end-to-end supply chain. Problems may also arise during integration of the two Apparel and luxury companies affecting supply chain. If the hired company economize, use cheap materials or even fail to assess risk fully, the supply chain will be affected due to decreased sales and brand equity (Meeken, 2013).
Outsourcing in low-cost countries helps Apparel and luxury companies be more efficient in their operations because they concentrate of core competencies and they can produce cheaper clothes and accessories as well as satisfying consumers, therefore, affecting supply chain positively. However, there are risks involved such as pressuring suppliers to reduce investment capital to keep low costs. More so, companies adopt common local standards which can ruin the brand image and problems in the hired company can also affect the organization negatively.
Handfield, R. (2017, August 23). Needed: A New Way to Manage Risk in Low Cost Countries. Supply Chain Resource Cooperative.
K3 Software Solutions, (2017, December 8). Supply Chain Challenges in Apparel Industry and How You Can Fix Them. Fashion ERP.
Meeken, Z. (2013, June 13). The Risks and Benefits of Outsourcing Supply Chain Management. Business.org.
Pickles J, Plank L, Staritz C, Glasmeier A (2015) Trade policy and regionalisms in global clothing production networks. Camb J Reg, Econ Soc 8(3):381–402
Robinson, P. K., & Hsieh, L. (2016). Reshoring: a strategic renewal of luxury clothing supply chains. Operations Management Research, 9(3-4), 89-101.
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