Digital channels are no longer optional for retailers: they make shopping more efficient, effective and fun and are a basic expectation of consumers today. But it’s not just the consumer that benefits from a more visual, on-demand experience. Forward-looking retailers are starting to use things like virtual showrooms to showcase and shop for products digitally, eliminating the need for burdensome overseas shopping experiences and saving time for what matters most: inspiration and differentiation.
With an infinite amount of information at our fingertips, digital sourcing can help teams be more proactive and become more valuable to their organizations. Here’s how teams can use digital channels to their advantage when sourcing great product:
1. Quickly compare suppliers for value. Digital sourcing channels give retail teams the ability to very quickly find supply partners that meet their unique and specific needs for product components, materials and patterns. By understanding what is out there and comparing these options against alternatives, you get the insight needed to make informed, confident sourcing decisions that meet strategic objectives and help design and deliver innovative, high-quality products.
2. Check for compliance. Digital sourcing can also help locate compliant suppliers and factories and validate their practices. This helps provide the peace of mind that quality control is high and the likelihood of legal and reputational consequences low.
3. Empower your suppliers. Using digital channels gives suppliers a voice. Instead of just serving as a vendor, suppliers can use these channels to collaborate with buyers much earlier in the process and offer insight into what will work and what won’t. Suppliers can be a strategic asset to the business and communicating with them in real-time through digital mediums helps tap into the power that their knowledge and relationships provide.
4. Try before you fly. Using tools like virtual showrooms and shopping trips can contribute to a competitive advantage by giving your team the chance to see more product and collect and compare assortments across suppliers more easily. Teams get samples in real time and can pick out the best assortment, rather than spending weeks chasing down options, costs and entering data.
Digital sourcing techniques can ultimately help your team match the speed of innovation by aligning backend processes to the frontend customer experience. By shopping like customers do by creating a more visual and efficient buying experience throughout the entire retail ecosystem, the retail community can do more in less time and source high quality, innovative product at an attractive price point.
To learn more about digital sourcing, please read, The New B2B Standard: Creating a Social, Collaborative Experience.