Founded more than 25 years ago on the premise that supply chain visibility is fundamental to operational success, Sunrise Technologies works to bring Microsoft Cloud Solutions to a global roster of consumer brands, manufacturers and retailers.
Today, the company has evolved in its scope and strategy to streamline business operations across the entire fashion value chain. Sunrise’s experience, along with its industry-specific solutions, allow organisations to optimise Microsoft Dynamics 365, enabling brands to manage supply chain imbalances, account for seasonal forecasting and planning, and quickly react to inventory overages and shortages. The company is trusted by the likes of Patagonia, Frette and Vera Bradley, among others, to do so.
The last year has exposed the fragility and tested the resilience of the fashion industry’s global supply chains. According to BoF and McKinsey & Company’s State of Fashion 2021 report, the industry is looking to mitigate future risk, with 35 percent of surveyed fashion executives expecting resilience and partnerships in the supply chain to be a top theme in 2021.
Now, BoF sits down with Mike Pereira, Sunrise Technologies’ vice president, to understand how supply chain solutions have found new context — and the potential growth levers within a post-pandemic industry.
What shifts to global supply chains should businesses be aware of?
I think a lot of businesses have realised that, through the pandemic, [they] do not have the systems to support new inventory situations. Now, the upcoming inventory bubble — or lack of inventory — will be significant.
There are many possible scenarios that will need to be evaluated at a detailed level. Will we see an inventory burst, with inventory hidden in the supply chain, backlogged from the beginning stages of the pandemic? Of course, the converse of that is, will there be an inventory shortage? There is a risk that vendors, either shut down or bankrupt, will now be unable to provide or deliver product — an issue that hasn’t really been visible to customers before. Having the tools to be able to evaluate that supply and demand is going to be critical for [brands] and retailers.
What new technologies or strategies should fashion brands and retailers prioritise?
Retailers, particularly those with complex supply chains such as fashion, footwear and cosmetics, should assess the status of their current capabilities around e-commerce. While e-commerce has had a pretty obvious uptick in relation to people’s buying habits and means of acquiring product, it has also hugely impacted business-to-business activity. Organisations should consider whether they have the right technologies to deal with those strategies and workings.
When it comes to the fashion industry, smaller, boutique manufacturers or distributors face similar product and supply chain complexities as their larger counterparts.
Data analytics, where businesses can have insight into shopper habits, are also key. Businesses should [equip] themselves with the tools to analyse that data and the tools to quickly implement insight into workflows and make changes in their organisation from an application perspective. Now, it’s no longer enough to just have the traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) application.
When reviewing inventory demand versus supply, surfacing huge volumes of complex planning data requires new supporting business analytics applications. We’ve created some powerful industry IP which provides this functionality in planning, but also surfaces the answers through data visualisations that uncover insights and enable faster decisions.
How do strategies differ due to business size?
When it comes to the fashion industry, smaller, boutique manufacturers or distributors face similar product and supply chain complexities as their larger counterparts. They have the same SKU issues from a retailer and consumer perspective and the same supply chain planning issues. The volume may not be quite there, but they certainly have the complexity of those larger organisations.
We work to not only be an implementer of product and solutions, but to also be a strategic advisor to customers who want to accelerate their digital transformation and innovate rapidly. While our methodology does not change from brand to brand, how we approach the implementation is custom to each client.
With an ecosystem of applications that allow companies to start where they want and scale into a solution that adapts to meet current and future requirements, we are supporting various inventory scenarios and data analytics, and helping our customers of all sizes reimagine their retail situations.
We have seen some amazing strategies to keep brick-and-mortar retail in business, which include turning stores into distribution centres, [facilitating] curbside pick-ups, contactless shopping and remote customer assistance. Patagonia was able to pivot to this really quickly during the pandemic, optimising to get a single shipment to their customers.
What new opportunities exist within supply chain management?
It’s no longer about the traditional management of supply chain data. Now, you really need to trust that you are getting a single source of truth to act on it quickly — but in new ways that are only now possible with cloud technologies.
Supply chain solutions will be [dictated] by the ways in which shoppers will re-emerge from this pandemic.
When the pandemic first started, the concept of seasonality was somewhat out the window, as companies tried to determine what would sell in this situation. We saw our customers struggling with this and considered additional capabilities on top of the traditional supply chain planning scenarios. We built a risk assessment capability where we look at customer demand and at vendor supply and made it easier to understand the balance, or the imbalance, of that inventory position. Now our customers are utilising this tool to help them get ahead and analyse the behaviour of the customer, of inventory and the overall supply chain.
As we return to more normal times, continuing to look at that risk of products and asking, “Are the buyers going to go for this particular style? This particular colour palette?” is an opportunity to streamline and react to demand.
What solutions will hold the most relevance over the medium term?
Supply chain solutions will be [dictated] by the ways in which shoppers will re-emerge from this pandemic. While we all have the confidence that we will emerge, it’s going to be a slow return for some consumer [cohorts] in all parts of the world. Businesses will have to be prepared to respond to different scenarios. Will shoppers rush back to physical retail situations? What products will appeal? Will they rush out to buy certain products that they haven’t been buying during the pandemic?
I believe that the past year has helped businesses realise they must consider modernising their applications. We’ve seen a significant focus on understanding customer insights that help brands to really know what their customers want and how to retain them, as well as using new cloud solutions to provide a personalised and differentiated shopping experience. Businesses will come out of this pandemic having survived, but maybe feeling vulnerable, and must assess how they are running their systems.
This is a sponsored feature paid for by Sunrise Technologies as part of a BoF partnership.