The most questions we get from brands we talk to
We are sorry for any confusion. Let us set the record straight – SupplyCompass is a software product. Specifically, it is a Collaborative Production Platform.
In January 2021, we finished our pivot from being a digital production agency to being a software company.
This means that our primary business is no longer to match brands with manufacturers and vice versa.
We provide a Collaborative Production Platform that brands, manufacturers and agencies can use to manage production. It is the software that we realised we were missing when we were providing production to brands – so we built it.
If you would like to find manufacturers or sourcing agents to help you connect to some, then please check out the sourcing and buying listings in our digital directory of the fashion ecosystem.
The fashion PLM has been around for 20+ years and has a well-defined feature set focused on product development.
The biggest difference is that PLMs are internally focused. They are built around the product and developing it. Unfortunately, most, but not all, stop short of creating a way to invite your manufacturers to use them.
None of them has been designed and built with two user groups in mind from the start – brand & manufacturer.
We believe that the biggest opportunities for the fashion supply chains lie in enabling greater collaboration between different people working together.
SupplyCompass has some overlap with PLM features in our Style Builder, where we have materials and components libraries, and you can create a tech pack. Style Builder is the same as a modern PLM.
The Sample Loop is unlike anything we’ve seen in any PLMs because it is designed to be completely collaborative and deliver a great sampling and feedback experience to both sides.
Most PLMs also overlook our Order to Delivery features because PLMs focus just on product development. In contrast, we think about the whole journey of a style from ideation to delivery date.
When we’re explaining SupplyCompass to brands the first thing that usually happens is that they manage to sell themselves on it.
They get excited about what it can do for their internal team collaboration – but then they always have the same moment where the penny drops and they realise.
“This will only work if our manufacturers use it.”
It is true. But this is also the point.
If only your team used the platform, it wouldn’t enable you to collaborate better with your supply chain.
Most people with a progressive, open mind – like you – want to improve their supplier collaboration and know that it is the key to better profitability, shorter lead times, higher quality and importantly, supporting more sustainable practices.
But when the penny drops brands always start worrying and they say things like
“will my manufacturer like it?”
“Will they find it easy to use?” (they’re not very technical you know)
“How easily will they be able to onboard?”
“Will they miss our emails and updates and make mistakes?”
Imagine if you could listen to what manufacturers who use SupplyCompass say about it?
What do you think they’d say?
If your manufacturers getting on board and using SupplyCompass was the only thing stopping you from going ahead, you’re going to need to come up with another excuse.
Woah! Who said you couldn’t send your manufacturers emails?!
But, we do believe you could communicate better by sending less of them. Here is how and why we believe that.
The problem with email:
Have you ever asked your manufacturers whether the way you communicate works well for them?
We visited over 300 factories worldwide, and email was one of their biggest challenges – they inundate them!
We know that is really hard for factories because so much is out of their control, but all brands want is to be kept updated when things change to know what is going on and can plan better.
You want them to update you rather than having to chase them.
How we have tried to address it
Using our dual workflows means that both you and your manufacturer know where everything is in the process – you have a shared view of where things are at.
This eliminates the need to chase on something to check the status because you’re working off the same plan.
We have done automated notifications and updates related to changes in SupplyCompass and for when certain actions take place.
For example, when your supplier adds a sample order delivery with airway bill number, tracking details and shipment information, you’ll receive an email with confirmation that it has been sent and a link that takes you through to the sample tracking page for that sample order.
We have automated notifications for both the brands and manufacturers throughout the workflows to save having to remember sending updates and saving having to chase for information.
There will be many emails that you are sending that just aren’t needed with SupplyCompass. Here are some examples:
- Here is the updated tech pack
- Did you get the feedback I sent over?
- Can I have the tracking link for the delivery?
- Ignore that last email use the attachment on this one.
- Here is the update WeTransferLink
- Attachment attached this time!
We believe you. It’s just really hard and time-consuming. Our Co-Founder Gus spent over a week setting up our production management in Asana before we built SupplyCompass. If you’re lucky enough to have someone as process-oriented as Gus to set all of that up – lucky you.
The biggest challenge that he hit and couldn’t overcome was then getting our team to adopt the workflows and processes he designed. He never even got to the point of asking our manufacturers to collaborate with us through it!
Collaborative dating is about co-creating your critical path with your manufacturer. You work from the same shared plan rather than asking them to update your excel reports or copy-pasting dates from spreadsheets before your reporting meetings.
OK, cool, so you’ve made tech packs that you’re pleased with, and your manufacturers know how they work.
Making a clear and concise tech pack in Adobe Illustrator should be well within the ability of someone who is designing fashion garments, but this is just the start of your tech packs journey.
The challenge with tech packs
The challenge with tech packs isn’t making them look pretty – it is updating them and keeping them accurate for everyone involved in production.
The need for accuracy applies to both the feedback and approvals related to it and the actual information.
As your iterative design process goes on, it is also hard to keep track of what you’ve changed over time and what you’re checking for by the time the next sample comes around.
How we have addressed the challenges
Tech packs are shared between manufacturers and brands because the brand creates a shared project workspace.
Until the sample order is accepted, the manufacturer can only view the tech pack live on SupplyCompass – they can’t download and print it yet. This is to prevent them from working from the wrong version before the tech pack is agreed upon.
If the manufacturer downloads a tech pack later in the process, we automatically create a version log.
The magic part of the live tech pack is that it doesn’t need to be specifically updated to be kept up to date.
Fit, feedback, and approvals are all made against samples, but they’re linked back to the tech pack, and both brand and manufacturer can view everything related to a style in one place.
This means you don’t need to create excel tabs, shared folders and send emails to make sure your manufacturer is working from the right tech pack and has all your feedback.
We know – if you’re going to use our Style Builder, it is likely to be because you want to drive your Sampling & Approvals workflow from your tech packs. Building your tech packs quickly means having styles set up to clone and having the materials and components you need in the platform. Like any transformative project, the hard work is being done up front to save you time later.
We’ve designed our Style Builder and tech packs to intentionally require as little information from you as possible to get you started. You can drag and drop images into anywhere that we ask for them, and all of your materials and components get saved to libraries automatically as you create new styles.