Costs, profits, and inventory turn are no longer sufficient indicators of a brand’s long term health. Today there are new quality metrics that are providing increasingly critical measures of success.
Today’s consumer ranks Quality at the top of their list of criteria when selecting which apparel to purchase.
Millennials in particular have made the quest for quality a priority, part of a massive consumer movement towards ‘buying fewer, buying better.” Indie brands are winning over an increasing share of the market by offering high quality products that score on workmanship, materials, design, and fit.
While consumers have shifted their focus towards quality, most of the apparel industry remains focused on a discount/promotion driven retail model where quality is sometimes compromised in order to achieve lower prices and shorter lead-times
It’s a model that is proving fatal to an increasing number of brands and retailers.
Recognizing the shifting priorities in the consumer market, Newtimes Group realized this demand for better quality would require brands to boost their Quality Management efforts.
At the same time they realized that many brands were stressed to find the resources to add on the necessary staff – especially as sourcing becomes increasingly diversified amongst more countries and more vendors.
In response, Newtimes launched PCC (Production Compliance Corporation) to implement a new model of Quality Assurance, something they refer to as “Second Party” Quality Management Services.
The playing field was opportune for the visionary concept developed by Newtimes Group, the leading buying agent for mid-tier to high-end apparel brands.
A New Service for a New Customer
Until PCC was launched, brands, retailers and factories relied upon traditional third party service providers for supplementary services such as inspections and sometimes for guidelines. Many of these providers evolved from lab testing companies.
PCC is a wholly owned and separately managed subsidiary of Newtimes Group, and thus has the backing of Newtimes’s 60 years of experience in product, manufacturing and quality.
PCC’s mission is to partner with the supply chain to provide the customer a seamless experience of Quality - in operations and product.
New KPIs for a New Consumer
Evolving into a quality-driven model requires redefining our KPI’s.
While most companies are vigilant about measuring costs, few are paying attention to what we call ‘soft metrics’. These are things such as quality and customer service.
In a price-driven model, quality and related services are viewed as costs – something to be minimized.
In a quality-driven model they are recognized as key factors in customer acquisition, and more importantly, customer retention – two factors that ultimately will determine long term survival.
Consumers often see this as part of being more sustainable – opting to invest in clothing that is more durable, as opposed to buying cheaper garments that need to be replaced more frequently.
Then there’s the demand for better and consistent fit – something that all generations are crying out for.
Most companies focus on measuring and rewarding inventory management and margins. Recognition – bonus, salary, and promotions – is given to those employees who drive those KPIs. As well, many of the improvements in real-time technology are data entry driven and human resource heavy. A majority of brands have insufficient staff to execute in-depth quality management.
Sourcing supplemental services has become a practical option for managing quality in countries where a brand might not have a full service buying office – or any buying office at all. Rather than hiring their own staff, a brand can work with an inspection service or a full end to end service provider, PCC.
PCC provides a cost efficient way to get state-of-the-art, comprehensive quality assurance – in any country you choose to source in – regardless of the volume of business you are doing there.
Understanding Apparel Sourcing
Understanding apparel is a critical advantage. “PCC’s teams understand what makes a product commercially viable and this imparts greater intimacy with the brand, the vendor and the product.
Understanding all the moving parts of the supply chain involved in developing, making and shipping first quality products is a critical advantage.
PCC’s highly trained teams bring that all-important sensibility to textile and apparel quality assurance thanks to deep expertise built on years of experience sourcing high quality apparel.
Redefining Quality Standards
The established standard for quality inspection was not created for apparel. It’s a system developed by the Military for armaments, designed to measure rigid structures. Textiles and apparel are not rigid and so these standards need to be interpreted to make them viable for apparel.
In the old days, quality inspectors only needed to know standard inspection criteria. Today, they must understand the product.
PCC is able to determine if a garment that has been marked as defective is actually commercially viable. With the right people, this can be done quickly. And it can be done without killing the vendor and helping to preserve that critical KPI of good profit margins. Is the product shippable? If yes, what is the appropriate compensation? And, how to we prevent these mistakes/defects in the future.
Newtimes Group’s PCC division understands how to do this. It is especially in these ‘grey areas’ that PCC will service the brand, the retailer and the factory with meaningful impact
PCC operates as a second party partner to the brand, the retailer and the factory, bringing intimacy and trust in order to successfully transact decisions such as these
The Quality Circle of today must be a collaborative partnership that supports long term working relationships. This builds better quality and lower costs. This philosophy reaches the customer as well. PCC can measure the cost of a defective product, but the cost of the unhappy customer is unknowable.
A second party service provider, like PCC, is committed to the Brand Identity, builds partnership with the client, focuses on process and product, and brings reliable real- time data analytics geared to building solutions - not only identifying problems.
A second party service provider also uses the science of an AQL, SQL, OQL inspection systems and the inherent sensibility needed to understand the commercial viability of evaluating a first quality product. Unlike typical third party service providers, a second party service provider seeks to instill and implement proactive measures into a system.
Meeting the New Demand for Better Quality
Newtimes and PCC are also able to leverage their relationship with Pivot88, a cutting edge 360 software technology company. Pivot provides critical data analytics that monitor brand and factory behaviors. PCC provides the human resources to work with the Brands and vendors to effect solutions for positive change.
PCC helps to understand how to prevent these mistakes/defects in the future through GAP Analysis and the formation of Corrective Action Plans.
Also important, PCC will help build a customized Vendor Empowerment Program to train and certify a factory’s auditor to be the appropriate eyes for the brand on the factory floor during the start through to the end of the manufacturing cycle. PCC turns one hand into five working fingers.
PCC embodies the ethos to build quality into the product from the beginning using science, technology, leadership and understanding the unique nuances of every style.