The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America hosted its annual Sourcing Intelligence Summit in New York on Tuesday. The conference focused on top sourcing and supply chain management issues for footwear brands, as well as discussed innovations in production and how that would affect global trade.
Here are a few key takeaways from the conversation.
Product Safety: New Chemical Requirements, Global Temperatures On The Rise
Continued reform to the list of chemicals regulated by the U.S. government has made it a bit challenging to always keep a finger on the changing requirements. Specifically, California’s BPA restrictions have been a key concern for some brands. Another top talking point was rising global temperatures, which makes shipping shoes without mold growing in moist conditions a big challenge.
Global Trade Barriers
Sure, tariffs may usually be top of mind for importers, but other key issues are starting to take a more important role in the conversation. New, detailed documentation requirements, changing regulatory rules and general political and economic instability have been major factors in diversifying supply chains.
Trade Deal Talk
Brexit fears have quelled some worries about the future of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and Congress’ recent move to start a trade conversation with the United Kingdom has executives feeling more confident. The Trans-Pacific Partnership also was a key talking point, with many hoping for a lame-duck passage, which would most likely happen under a Hillary Clinton win in November or if the Republicans lose a majority in the Senate.
Production Innovations Mean Big Changes Coming
As innovations such as 3-D printing and modeling become more widely adopted by brands, the impact could be big on supply chains. Whether it’s shortening production times or making on-demand runs closer to market, supply chain management is continuing to diversify thanks to major shifts in production and consumer expectations.
East Coast Port Trouble Brewing?
If port congestion wasn’t already enough of a worry for supply chain managers, some executives are worried that a port strike on the East Coast could snarl imports once again. While the vast majority of footwear brands rely mostly on the West Coast, an East Coast port disruption has the potential to shift trade once again. Negotiations are underway between the East Coast Ports and longshoreman. The workers’ contract expires in 2018.