#1: Custom design
Tailoring products makes the items in each supply chain more specific. According to the Baltimore Sun, popular sportswear manufacturer Under Armour recently added technology to a U.S. facility to make clothing items reflect the customer's desire.
The June Sun article specifically noted the role of 3D imaging and printing technology in the clothing sector. Used together, these systems can continue to close the gap between company and customer, with products based on particular buyers' body scans and 3D printed to match them. Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland Mike Galiazzo cited this as one of the main assets of Maryland manufacturing.
"It's great that we can expand apparel manufacturing in Maryland," he said. "The use of 3D technology has allowed them to make it possible to do that."
Galiazzo also referred to the upcoming innovations of manufacturing, saying that the future is already present in his state. Under Armour is using a new Port Covington facility called UA Lighthouse to test and develop its processes. Having a centralized innovation center can be a deliberate change of pace for some businesses.
#2: Forest-friendly procurement
Creating environmentally conscious models can set a precedent when the company doing it has a long list of different customers to cater to. L Brands, the business behind the lingerie store Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, among others, is gearing up to reduce the environmental impact of its supply chains on forests, with responsible procurement management meant to limit damage and promote recycling.
The official L Brands site lists some of the elements of its policy. To this end, the business said that its 2015 catalogues were sourced to meet the Forest Stewardship Council's standards, and that the company has invested more than $1 million in endangered forest research and advocacy. In addition, L Brands committed to 100 percent certified paper materials for its direct mail marketing materials and wants to improve its supply chain further in the coming year.
#3: Augmented reality
As a last example, we also see new consumer-facing tech impacting the shoe industry in a potentially meaningful way. PYMNTS.com wrote on Nike's use of Augmented Reality, also known as AR, to help users plan out their ideal shoe from afar. As of this writing, there are three types of shoe, the AirMax, LunarEpic Low and Cortez, that are subject to this process.
The source said that this AR approach is currently in use only in a Paris store. Though this is just available on an electronic store table, the same site did suggest that consumers may want to use this sort of functionality on their own phones. That's not the reality now, but it could change the supply chain even further.
In their own ways, these examples all show the uses of strong procurement management. Revitalizing this effort could bolster sincere commitments.