Bamboo Rose's Sourcing Survey Finds Few Surprises

Bamboo Rose unveiled the results of its latest survey of 250 retail and supply chain professionals, which focused on the rise of digital sourcing and its benefits for retailers and vendors. The survey analyzed current collaboration methods used throughout the supply chain and details how retailers still have a long way to go to better streamline communication and simplify their supply chain operations.

Results showed that most respondents are currently relying on outdated tools and processes such as spreadsheets and manual processes (like email and JPGs) to manage complicated sourcing operations:

  • 63 percent of retail professionals use email applications like Outlook as their go-to sourcing program.
  • 72 percent of respondents are still using Excel to manage sourcing and product development projects.
  • 50 percent of respondents rely on images or handwritten notes.

Some retailers are choosing tools that are specific to sourcing, but many of these are point solutions that only manage select areas of the process. Because of the array of tools needed to complete various aspects of the sourcing process, most survey respondents reported suffering from tool fatigue. In fact, 53 percent said they use two or more tools regularly and do not have a single platform that they can rely on. Additionally, a full 19 percent aren't using any tools at all.

"Established retailers and brands in every sector are scaling back, reinventing themselves or closing their doors in response to the state of the increasingly cutthroat retail industry," said Sue Welch, founder and CEO at Bamboo Rose. "The best retailers embrace collaboration to bring the highest quality, most appealing products to market fast. For retailers aiming to improve, taking advantage of digital sourcing can reduce sampling time and costs and shorten time to market. And that leads to increased revenue."

Digital sourcing provides a single communication platform for ongoing collaboration and inspiration, allowing retailers to tap into suppliers' ideas and advice on trends, markets and big initiatives they are working on. As a result, time to market decreases and retailers are empowered to stay on top of trends and make more profitable operational decisions. In the most recent Bamboo Rose digital sourcing project, the results included:

  • Reduced sampling by 85 percent
  • Cut time to market by six weeks
  • Easier communication across time zones and between retailers and vendors
  • Ability to view more products in a shorter amount of time, resulting in a better selection

"By communicating and considering all inputs into the creation process up front, companies can avoid issues like creating products that factories can't make or selling items that won't work in certain markets," said Welch. "This process allows retailers to work with the larger community right from the beginning to inspire new ideas, create the next innovative product and get the best product to market at the right price."