Speed to Market Creates Evolving Challenge

To meet the industry’s need for speed, manufacturing may require a paradigm shift, said a panel Wednesday at FN Platform in Las Vegas.

As panelist Beth Goldstein, director at The NPD Group Inc., noted, “We’ve started to see boots sell to spring, blurring lines of rigid seasons, [giving us an] opportunity to rethink some things when it comes to speed of manufacturing.”

Leading the discussion was Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser, who said the key takeaway was the fact that “customers want more newness more quickly, and it’s a thing where it’s going to evolve.

“Everybody’s in the same boat, so it’s going to be seeing how the best and quickest can go together,” he added. “It’s about operating better, more efficiently, have your planning processes better, knowing how to flow goods better. [Steve] Madden was brought up [in the conversation] as best in class.”

For another panelist, Thomas Romeo, president of Bearpaw, the key lesson was that there should be more awareness throughout the industry of the difficulties involved in getting the product to market.

“Ordering sooner doesn’t help the actual speed to market, because you’ll still have the order sooner than you want it,” he explained, adding that the average time from order to delivery is now about four to five months, versus three to four months just a few years ago, thanks to changes in transit times, logistics and infrastructure.

His solution?

“We need to change where the factories are. Everything is slowing down because of where the manufacturing [has shifted in China.] We’ve looked at South America, but there are cultural differences,” he explained. “America is the most spoiled. We are about instant gratification, but [in South America] they think everything can be [done tomorrow].”