Investigation into the critical success factors for the implementation of a quick response supply chain strategy in the South African fashion apparel sector

Williams, Wafeeq (2015-04)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This report details the critical success factors for consideration in developing a quick response (QR) supply chain strategy for fashion apparel retailers in South Africa. Quick response is the recent supply chain management development that supports a fast fashion business model most evident within the North American and European fashion apparel market. A QR supply chain strategy differs from previous supply chain management principles as it utilises consumer data to create a demand driven network in order to co-ordinate functions through the supply chain. This differs from the standard ‘push’ model evident within the normal fashion apparel cycle and follows a more consumer-centric approach to product demand. The continued success and growth of four of the global fashion apparel, retail organisations as listed by Deloitte’s Global Powers of Retailing 2014 survey, is attributed to the ability of these retailers to respond in season to consumer demand. These leading organisations have effectively adapted and incorporated a QR strategy into their broader competitive offering. South African fashion apparel retailers have recently begun introducing the philosophy and operational strategy of QR to their overriding business strategy, however, current implementation is limited and the full advantages of QR practises in comparison to the northern hemisphere markets is not being realised. Based on the limited amount of local retail and manufacturing QR information, limited availability of sales data for statistical analysis, increasing levels of competition and slow economic growth, a clear understanding of QR is needed. Critically, phased implementation of QR in South Africa requires a clear understanding of the critical success factors (CSF) needed for upfront engagement between retailers and manufacturers. The primary research question was therefore, what are the critical success factors for QR implementation in the South African fashion apparel sector? The purpose of this research was to define a priority list of critical success factors for consideration by defining the scope of QR thinking within business and clarifying the degree and level of application in northern hemisphere markets as lessons for the local sector. Three research aspects were conducted in determining the critical success factors for South Africa. An academic literature review was used to describe the development of QR and identify those factors within the field of supply chain management. This was used to define the scope of questions and themes for interviews with local industry professionals. The results of these interviews were then compared to insights from case studies of global, fast fashion retailers in order to define the priority list of factors. The primary findings for the South African retail sector were: that effective QR implementation should be strongly aligned to the strategic positioning of retail and manufacturing cluster of organisations. Detailed consideration of the benefits for both supply chain members, as well as the level of communication and exchange of information was critical in developing the responsiveness required from the supply chain. Collaborative product design featured frequently within the research and required new processes and organisational structures to be implemented effectively. The findings of the research provide a concise, viable set of factors for retail and manufacturing engagement. These factors can be used to structure long term, sustainable quick response practises to enable greater adoption and implementation within the South African sector. This will encourage more close-to-home product development and enable retailers to better utilise local manufacturing resources while remaining competitive.

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