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New Consumer Product Laws for 2020 You Need to Know About

Posted By RCVF Admin, Saturday, December 12, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2020

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New Consumer Product Laws for 2020 You Need to Know About

By Bao M. Vu, of Counsel, Stoel Rives LLP. 

 

Nationwide, states have and are in the process of implementing new laws and regulations that affect the makeup and disclosures required on a variety of consumer products.  Below is an update on some new laws and regulations that might affect you.

California’s Ban on Animal Testing in Cosmetics:  California’s SB1249 became operative January 1, 2020.  It generally bans the sale of any cosmetics in California that were developed or manufactured using an animal test that was conducted before January 1, 2020.  It includes numerous exceptions, including where animal testing is required to satisfy requirements of a federal, state, or foreign regulatory authority.  There are numerous requirements to this and other exceptions under the law, and more information about the new law can be found here (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1249) or by contacting the author below.

Utah’s Down Sterilization LawAt the end of 2019, Utah’s Administrative Code Rule R70-101 became effective, and it requires very specific labels for down bedding and furniture.  Among other requirements under the law, labels for these types of products need to now include statements such as “CONTENTS STERILIZED” and the Sterilization Permit Number of the sterilization facility from which the material was obtained.  These and numerous other statements must meet specific size and placement requirements.  More information about this law, its requirements, and its exceptions can be found here (https://rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r070/r070-101.htm) or by contacting the author below.

Washington State Passes Chemical Content Law: Washington State’s SB5135 has the goal of reducing human and wildlife exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products.  That law, called the “Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act,” requires the state’s Department of Ecology (“DOE”) to take on consumer products containing high-concern chemicals, identifying as priorities substances such as PFASs, phthalates, flame retardants, phenolic compounds, and PCBs.  It will probably be a few years before the DOE’s regulations under this new law take effect.  More information about this law and its potential ramifications can be found here (http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/Senate/5135-S.SL.pdf?q=20200210142234) or by contacting the author below.

About the Author:  Bao M. Vu is California-based attorney with the law firm Stoel Rives LLP.  He regularly advises clients on compliance with complex consumer protection and environmental statutes and regulations.  More information about his practice can be found here.  He routinely provides free consultations to RVCF members, and he can be reached at bao.vu@stoel.com or 415-500-6572. 

 

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Update on EDI & Electronic Communication Teleconference Series Launch

Posted By RCVF Admin, Saturday, December 12, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2020

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Update on EDI & Electronic Communication Teleconference Series Launch

By Susan Haupt, RVCF


RVCF has expanded it’s Open Forum teleconference offerings for 2020 with the launch of a new series of calls focused on EDI and Electronic Communications. 
 

What makes these calls unique is that both Retailers and Merchandise Suppliers are eligible to attend.  The fist session took place on January 15th with over 50 participants. Discussions focused on: 

  • Best practices for handling existing PO’s when entering into new EDI relationships
  •  Scorecarding for EDI
  •  EDI vs. API technology
  •  Handling retailer specific data requirements
  •  The adoption of Blockchain as a transmission medium in the supply chain
  •  EDI transactions relative to returns  

Based on the discussions during the call, there is tremendous interest in this topic.  With the input of peers and our facilitator, Michael Kotoyan with EDI Academy, a wealth of information was shared to the benefit of both the Retailer and Merchandise Suppliers represented.  

The next call in this series is 3/18/20, followed by 5/13, 7/15, 9/16 and 12/16.  Check the RVCF event page for times and registration.  There is no cost to participate, but registration is limited to RVCF members.  To further support the content of the calls, all participants are granted access to a private, secure community within the RVCF website that houses minutes from each session, other reference materials, plus the ability to interact with one another for further collaboration. 

We look forward to continued work on this initiative.  Questions about the call or other RVCF Member Benefits, please contact shaupt@rvcf.com.

 

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Complying With The Law While Marketing That You're "Going Green"

Posted By RCVF Admin, Wednesday, June 10, 2020

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Complying With The Law While Marketing That You're "Going Green"

By Bao M. Vu, of Counsel, Stoel Rives LLP. 

 

Consumers care about “green” initiatives, which are generally steps that businesses take to make their products and operations more environmentally friendly.  And because consumers are willing to pay a premium to businesses that have such initiatives, having and marketing these initiatives is nearly a requirement for today’s premium brands. 

With the financial incentives involved and the difficulty of confirming claims in such marketing, numerous federal and state laws and regulations now exist to help explain what claims are permissible and which are not.  This article is not intended to be a treatise on those laws and regulations.  Instead, we want to give you an overview of some of the applicable law and provide an example of how such laws apply to a claim that is popular at the moment:  the reduction of carbon emissions.

Background

At the federal level, the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides govern what claims can be made and how such claims can be made.  The Green Guides have a few general principles and include specific regulations dealing with claims ranging from “Carbon Offsets” and “Renewable Energy Claims” to “Recycled Content Claims,” just to name a few. 

The Green Guides’ general principles require that claims not be misleading, which mandates that claims be specific and substantiated.  Claims must, in turn, typically be qualified and contain disclosures to satisfy these requirements. 

For example, a plastic package containing a new shower curtain that is labeled as “recyclable” is misleading if any component of the packaging or the shower curtain (other than minor, incidental ones) can’t be recycled.  To comply with the Green Guides, the packaging should say “recyclable packaging” or “recyclable product; packaging not recyclable,” or some other specific disclaimer, as appropriate.

In addition to the Green Guides, there is a patchwork of state laws.  Those laws are mostly consistent with the Green Guides, but there are distinctions.  For example, California has a specific law dealing with degradability claims in connection with plastic products that is far stricter than the Green Guides.

Violation of these laws and regulations can result in a government enforcement action with substantial penalties or costly claims by competitors or consumers seeking, among other things, disgorgement of all profits in connection with a product or a full refund for all consumers.

A “Carbon-Free” Example

Numerous companies have sought to market that they are “carbon neutral” or have “reduced their carbon footprint.”  But under the Green Guides and other similar laws, marketers need to ensure their claims are specific and substantiated.

To be specific, such claims should explain the specific steps taken, the specific time periods those steps will result in reductions (or offset existing reductions), and the specific business operations those steps affect. 

For example, a claim that “we are carbon free” is misleading, since a business cannot be “carbon free,” considering the carbon output involved with its vehicles, operations, electricity use, business travel, employees’ commuting, and supply chain. 

Instead, a more accurate claim may be that “We have offset our carbon emissions associated with all company air travel by funding carbon recapture projects at local landfills in our state.  Those projects will be operational within a year.” 

To be substantiated, such claims should also use an accepted methodology to determine a business activity’s baseline carbon emissions, such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which is one of several well-accepted methodologies for determining baseline emissions.

Further, to substantiate such claims, the steps taken to reduce or offset those baseline emissions should also be well-documented.  For example, if a company is buying renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset its electricity use, it should ensure that those RECs are verified and that the company has a contractual right to exclusively claim those RECs (to avoid double-counting), among other considerations. 

Conclusion

We hope this brief article helps to highlight complexities with popular “green” marketing claims.  Because science is constantly evolving, along with consumer perceptions, it’s important to work with experienced counsel when making “green” claims. 

About the AuthorBao M. Vu is an attorney with the law firm Stoel Rives LLP.  He regularly advises clients on compliance with complex consumer protection and environmental statutes and regulations.  More information about his practice can be found here.  Bao routinely provides free consultations to RVCF members, and he can be reached at bao.vu@stoel.com or 415-500-6572. 

 

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From the Desk of Kim Zablocky ... RVCF Fall 20th Anniversary Conference

Posted By RCVF Admin, Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Updated: Monday, June 8, 2020

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RVCF Fall 20th Anniversary Conference

From the Desk of Kim Zablocky 

 

Greetings from my home office. There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully it’s not a freight train! That said, the Coronavirus has changed every facet of our lives. But life moves on, we simply need to deal with it smartly. Wear mask, wash your hands etc..

Now for a fantastic announcement …The RVCF 20th Anniversary Fall Conference is on! We plan to reflect on the 20 years of retailer/supplier collaboration. We hope to have some original past members in attendance, plus we are hosting the famous Mummy Mountain cookout!

The Conference will be held at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn and Spa, November 8th-11th 2020, hopefully the election will be over by then 😊. A tremendous amount of planning will go into this year’s event.  We are hoping that by November there will be some form of normalcy.

Let me highlight a few sessions that I feel need promotion, that is EDI 856 and 860 workflow best practice, respectively. Both the perfect order and On Time In Full can be gained by improving your supply chain performance with these tools. We will hear from both retailers as well as brands on how they have collaborated to achieve improved efficiencies.

In addition, Managing TMS & Routing to Improve OTIF, Inbound Audit Best Practice and new digital tools for on-boarding new and existing merchandise suppliers. Not to be forgotten, there will be plenty of sessions focused on Drop Ship/Direct to Consumer Speed/Efficiency.

Once again, as is our custom, the Conference will include; Open forums, full day Design Thinking session, and of course one-on-ones.

RVCF will make sure that the Fall Conference is safe, with plenty of distancing that meets CDC requirements. Also, keep in mind that the Marriott International is doing all it can to assure you a healthy and sanitized environment.

Let me leave you by saying, have a wonderful and safe Summer! We’ll see you soon.

 

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COVID-19 vs. the Office of the CFO: 75+ Pages of Research Summarized

Posted By RCVF Admin, Monday, April 13, 2020

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COVID-19 vs. the Office of the CFO: 75+ Pages of Research Summarized

By HighRadius 


The profound humanitarian fallout of the COVID-19 crisis carries with it the potential equally disruptive economic fallout. The path ahead is hence a precarious one, driven by epidemiological uncertainty, the unique blend of resulting shocks to both supply and demand, and “preexisting conditions” in the global macroeconomy.
 

“From an economic perspective, the key issue is not just the number of cases of COVID-19, but the level of disruption to economies from containment measures,” Ben May, head of global macro research at Oxford Economics, said in a report this week. 

The outbreak has led major institutions and banks to cut their forecasts for the global economy. One of the latest to do so is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

                                 Global Economic Growth Slowdown Graph

                                    Source: OECD March Interim Report
 

In addition to launching a COVID-19 Response Center For Order-To-Cash, we did a literary review of the latest insight from four of the world’s leading research organizations that are constantly exploring the latest at the intersection of technology and business. Most of the firms have different takes on the essentials in these tough situations.

Gartner

Gartner advises organizations to conduct preparedness planning work for a pandemic because resources (internal and external) won’t be available soon. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic leaders should share a common goal: Protect employees first.

OBJECTIVES

      Minimizing the impact upon staff

      Minimizing the impact on the organizational supply chain & service delivery

      Minimizing the impact upon the IT infrastructure

      Protecting the corporate reputation

      Reducing the financial impact

      Enabling the organization to return to a new normality sooner

Gartner is actively publishing research on COVID-19 to help these uncertain times. Their collection of research and tools could help you better equip them during these uncertain times. Learn more at gartner.com

The Hackett Group

As per The Hackett Group, this crisis is different from ones in the past, not only in its global reach but also in its devastating combination of financial, supply and demand shocks, which are putting unprecedented pressure on corporate margins.

THE NEAR TERM

  1. Run scenario analyses for forecasting cash
  2. Augment remote work processes
  3. Communicate your strategy
  4. Preserve cash & optimize Working Capital

THE MID TERM

  1. Pursue intelligent cost reduction
  2. Review the capital investment portfolio
  3. Tighten controls with technologies like RPA & AI
  4. Watch out for growth opportunities

FOUR THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

  1. The VPN is difficult to scale – shift to the cloud
  2. Streamline virtual work communication
  3. Focus on critical areas (revenue, AR, inventory, etc) for reserve calculations
  4. Reassess methodologies based on learnings for the next quarter/month

The Hackett group has gathered insights and best practices to help finance leaders identify what next steps to take in the near and longer-term. Visit their website for more information.

451 Research

As per 451 research, the outbreak of COVID 19 would place more emphasis than ever before on the growing primacy of the digital experience as we try to adhere to 'social distancing' requirements. Technology today can ensure that businesses rise to meet customer expectations, especially as businesses are redefined from a transactional relationship between people into a more nuanced relationship between humans and the automated systems and devices, they use to engage the world.

CHANGING DYNAMICS OF DIGITAL EXPERIENCES

  1. Measure Digital Performance:

It's important to bring experiences to life online for deeper engagement to make people feel as connected as in-person experiences. Since emotion is the currency of experience, businesses will strive to drive spending on new technologies that harness the power of digital experiences to ensure brand loyalty.

  1. Catalyst for digital improvements:

Businesses need to invest in new digital tools/ intelligent platforms to work in a way that ensures that data, insights and key technologies connect people with information and processes.

  1. Use of virtual assistants to ease capacity issues:

The rise of virtual assistance and conversational interfaces provides a new avenue for businesses to achieve both the primary goals of self-service.

The 451 Research microsite will be continually updated with a selection of research, insight and data that are free to consume, helping organizations globally plan a way through this unique challenge.

Forrester

As per Forrester, Marketing and Communications teams should take a leading role in supporting their organization’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Their COVID-19 forum suggests a business continuity plan for an organization to deal with the repercussions of COVID-19 on their businesses and improve the overall customer experience.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY

  1. Create a task force, with each person understanding their responsibilities
  2. Develop a protocol for addressing emergent situations
  3. Create a wide range of critical content to keep the communication engine running, have it vetted by legal, and pushed out through channels as quickly as possible.
  4. Focus on creating a world class customer experience

IMPROVING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

  1. Start with empathy — Understand your customers in this moment
  2. Adapt Your CX Accordingly for all experiences and hit the pause button where needed
  3. Prioritize simplicity and clarity, now more than ever
  4. Help Your Employees Deliver Great CX Despite the Crisis

Forrester launched a hub featuring the latest insights and guidance to leaders to address the growing business and employee experience implications of COVID-19

Get to know more about how order to cash leaders are planning to brace for impact on April 21, 2020. Join the webinar to learn more.

 

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While Washington State Eyes Regulations Involving Electronics, Carpet, Printing Inks, Food Cans, Laundry Detergent, Thermal Paper, Vinyl Flooring, and Fragrances, You Should Start Planning Now

Posted By RCVF Admin, Monday, April 13, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2020

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While Washington State Eyes Regulations Involving Electronics, Carpet, Printing Inks, Food Cans, Laundry Detergent, Thermal Paper, Vinyl Flooring, and Fragrances, You Should Start Planning Now

By Bao M. Vu, of Counsel, Stoel Rives LLP. 


Introduction
 

Washington continues to move toward aggressively limiting certain chemicals in consumer products.  If you manufacture, sell, or distribute any of the following products into the state of Washington, or plan to in the future, you should start planning now for likely regulation:  electronics, carpet, printing inks, food cans, laundry detergent, thermal paper, vinyl flooring, and fragrances. 

Washington State’s New Act 

Washington’s first significant statutory scheme placing strict chemical content limits in consumer products was passed in 2008 and is known as the Children’s Safe Products Act (“WCPSA”).  The WCPSA principally limits the use of certain chemicals in children’s products, such as lead, cadmium, phthalates, and flame-retardant chemicals.  The WCPSA also gives the State’s Department of Ecology (“Department”) the authority to come up with rules to define and broaden reporting requirements for certain entities in the distribution chain,[1] including rules that broaden the reporting requirements for chemicals deemed Chemicals of High Concern to Children.   

More recently, Washington’s legislature passed Substitute Senate Bill 5135, also known as the Pollution Prevention for Healthy People and Puget Sound Act (the “Act”).  Pursuant to that Act, the Department developed an implementation program called “Safer Products for Washington.” 

What’s different about the Act, as compared to existing Washington law, is that it is designed to implement a “class-based” approach to regulating toxic chemicals.  For example, existing Washington law bans the specific chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in water bottles.  Complying with that ban, marketers advertised that their products were “BPA-free.”  Though those marketers were making accurate claims, they sometimes substituted BPA for bisphenol S (BPS), which, though not barred, has endocrine disruption effects similar to BPA.  

The Priority Chemicals 

The Act’s first set of so-called “priority chemicals” and deadlines demonstrate the class-based approach, as well as the products that manufacturers, distributors, and retailers should start paying attention to now.  Under the Act, the first set of priority chemicals, which were statutorily determined, are: 

  • Organohalogen flame retardants and flame retardants that are statutorily identified
  • Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) 
  • Phenolic compounds
  • Phthalates 

Though the first set of priority chemicals were identified in the Act, by June 1, 2024, and then again every five years, the Department is required to come up with at least five more priority chemicals.  

The Priority Products & Their Correlating Chemical Concern 

For now, in light of the first set of priority chemicals, the Act requires the Department to identify by June 1, 2020, priority consumer products that are a significant source or use of one or more of the priority chemicals listed as the first set under the Act.  The Department’s Priority Consumer Products Draft Report to the Legislator:  Safer Products for Washington Implementation Phase 2 identifies the following priority products:  

  • Electronic and electronic equipment, specifically device casings (for flame-retardant content)
  • Carpet (for PFAS content)
  • Printing inks (for PCBs content)
  • Food cans, laundry detergent, and thermal paper (for phenolic compounds: bisphenols, alkylphenol ethoxylates, and bisphenols, respectively)
  • Vinyl flooring and fragrances in personal care and beauty products (for phthalates) 

To date, there is nothing that suggests that the Department’s final report, due in just a few months, will add or remove any of these products as priority products.    

Next Steps 

Next, by June 1, 2022, and every five years thereafter, the Department will come up with regulatory actions involving the specific priority chemical class in the specified priority products.  The Department has the option of taking no action (under certain circumstances), restricting the sale in Washington of specific products that contain specific chemical levels, and/or implementing a reporting requirement.  

There are numerous other deadlines and considerations under the Act and its implementing Safer Products for Washington program that may ultimately affect how the state will regulate priority chemicals and priority products, leaving much to be answered before any final regulation.  However, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers should start seeking priority chemical-free alternatives if their business involves the sale of the draft priority products.  At the very least, those entities should start learning of the chemical composition of those and similar products to be prepared for any forthcoming regulation.  

About the Author:  Bao M. Vu is an attorney with the law firm Stoel Rives LLP.  He regularly advises clients on compliance with complex consumer protection and environmental statutes and regulations.  More information about his practice can be found here.  He routinely provides free consultations to RVCF members, and he can be reached at bao.vu@stoel.com or 415-500-6572. 


[1]  The next reporting deadline under the WCPSA is January 31, 2021, for products offered for sale in Washington from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020.  

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Resilience in Difficult Times

Posted By RCVF Admin, Monday, April 13, 2020
Updated: Monday, April 6, 2020

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Resilience in Difficult Times

From the Desk of Kim Zablocky 


As of today, RVCF Annual Fall Conference is a go! This will be our 20th Anniversary Conference, and no virus, plague, war, locust or pestilence will stop it from happening!

Those who were at our first organizational meeting at the Hilton in Newark, NJ back in May 2000, will remember the shoot out across the street at a jewelry store, you can’t make this up. Then came the tragic day of 9/11, we had planned to go to Fort Lauderdale that September.  Instead we held that meeting on November 5th the same day the American Airlines flight to Dominican Republic crashed in Queens.  We were all physically shaken from these terrible events. But you know what?  We are resilient, and we survived…

Then came 2007.  The economy was flying, we held our Fall Conference Renaissance Hotel in Palm Springs CA. Another great turn out, but something was amiss.  I remember hearing on the radio that some mortgage broker had devised a new lending instrument, a 40 year mortgage. I thought yikes, they’re out of control, maybe we should step back.  At the end of 2007, RVCF decided to leave Manhattan, not sign an expensive lease, and become a virtually operated business. Thank Heavens, as we all know what happened in 2008. Once, again the Fall Conference in 2008, held at the Camelback, was a great success, though I remember a retail member of ours mentioning if it was held two weeks later, no one would have showed up.  Again yikes!

The following year 2009, was our toughest to date at the time.  In the Spring of 2009, few people made the Spring Conference, the economy was in free fall, the stock market was in a free fall and looking to go all the way to zero. But midyear, things started to turn around.  We downsized staff, became more efficient, and once again we all survived.

The retail world became different after 2009.  The consumer was enjoying the convenience of going on their computers and phones to search and buy products. Remember this? Delivery of the product actually took up to 5-7 days (or longer) to arrive, but it saved them a trip to the store if it was something they could live with out for a week.

We all know what happened after that. Over the last 10 years, delivery went from 5-7 days to in some cases, same day delivery or even sooner in some locations.

Here we are 2020, Covid-19 rearing its ugly head globally.  Who would have expected a global pandemic, after just celebrating the past Holidays. Sadly, we had to cancel our Spring 2020 Conference. It is the first time we ever canceled an event.

Regardless, the RVCF team is determined to host our 20th Anniversary Fall Conference at the Camelback Inn, Scottsdale, AZ - I’ll be there!!!  In the meantime we will continue to support our membership. (See article below.)

Our prayers go out to those afflicted by this virus. Be safe, be well.  We look forward to seeing you soon.

 

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RVCF: We're Here for You

Posted By RCVF Admin, Monday, April 13, 2020
Updated: Monday, April 6, 2020

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RVCF: We're Here for You

By Susan Haupt, RVCF


In this unprecedented time of personal and professional upheaval, we are all facing the challenge to adapt.   Whether it’s a new working environment, seeking new approaches to old problems or the need to learn new skills – we find ourselves in a constant state change.  Throughout the chaos, the RVCF Team continues to work remotely as we have been doing for years.  We remain committed to support our membership and the industry as a whole to address the need for communication and collaboration, which is now more critical than ever.  We are here to provide Retailers, Merchandise Suppliers and Service Providers with the following services:
 


For Retailers

  • Collaborate with your peers in our Open Forum teleconferences. New sessions have been added to the calendar to address the need for more frequent updates.  Pre-registration is required, minutes are kept and distributed following the calls and are available on our website.
  • Communicate compliance and business process updates with your Merchandise Suppliers through our daily Compliance Clearinghouse e-mail alerts or address them as a group via webinar.  Our experienced event staff will market your session, process the registrations, conduct follow up and assist with hosting.
  • If supplemental IT support is needed, our website (rvcf.com) offers the ability for to post documents, updates and communicate with your suppliers within a private secure community.  Let our team handle the set up and onboarding and we’ll launch your custom branded “site within a site” in a matter of days.


For Merchandise Suppliers

  • The Compliance Clearinghouse team continues it’s monitoring functions and alerts are being sent daily.  Our recently launched Custom Monitoring solution offers the option to extend monitoring functions beyond our standard list of participants to provide total support of your compliance monitoring functions.
  • Our calendar of events has been expanded to include weekly Open Forum teleconferences through the end of April.  We are prepared to extend these weekly sessions further if needed.  
  • RVCF.com features Forum Boards where questions can be posted and insights provided for near real time responses.


For Service Providers

Although in-person events have been cancelled worldwide, the need to communicate your message remains critical.  RVCF offers opportunities to connect including virtual events, publication and advertising.  We have packaged our most popular options to create an “Enhanced Communication Package” to distribute your message through various channels. 

     
For All

  • If you have a position to fill, or are looking for your next opportunity let us know.  The RVCF member site (rvcf.com) features a Career Center that includes job listings for both Retailers and Merchandise Suppliers plus resumes of those looking for their next opportunity.
  • Explore our Thought Leadership Store to download RVCF and sponsored content including survey results, whitepapers and other reference materials.
  • Take advantage of our Virtual Events (see current schedule blow) to learn more about topics of general interest.  Be sure to check our site for the latest additions to our Calendar of Events.


If you see a need that we are able to help you to address we would love to hear from you.  Contact
info@rvcf.com or any member of the RVCF Team.

 

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Collaborative Technology Solutions are Critical to Retail Fashion Growth and Success

Posted By RCVF Admin, Monday, April 13, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, April 7, 2020

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Collaborative Technology Solutions are Critical to Retail Fashion Growth and Success

By Nancy Finnegan, BlueCherry PLM, CGS, Inc.

 

Picture this…Social media is showing a spike in ruffles. You have just put in an order for dresses. Imagine if you could immediately alert your designer to pull up the dress, add a ruffle and send the revised design to your supplier all before they wake up in the morning – AND…get notified they received it including any price adjustments. You approve and are on track with a hot pick! That is the power of PLM done right.

In today’s world, teams work in different time zones, different currencies, different languages and have their own roles and responsibilities. There’s the line sheet to review for next season’s line, and there can be anywhere from 2 to 20+ people that need to be involved in the process. There are also various sales channels, some that are direct to consumer and others that are providing products to big box stores. Every sales channel needs to know what sizes are available and where the images are for the new denim collection are so that they can provide accurate information on inventory. All of this is happening at a rapid rate and to top it off fashion trends are being driven by social media influencers which can change product details at a frenzied pace.

Today’s retail fashion industry demands that teams be able to react quickly to trends across all the multiple channels and brands they are managing. The daily workload is far more complex than ever imagined, and for every communication, new questions and data requirements are needed. There are fabric changes, quality issues, questions and comments that are just a necessary part of bringing a design through the production process.

Today’s technology finally supports product lifecycle management (PLM) and can provide retailers vast amounts of fast-changing information and seize on opportunities for growing sales.  Another benefit is to be able to understand why products are being returned and make changes that can greatly improve a retailers’ bottom line.

What Is PLM?

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the process and technology of taking products through the entire process from the initial range and assortment planning through to production. With a solid PLM process and strategy in place, fashion retailers and their supply chain partners can quickly share and update critical product information to keep the process moving correctly. This gives them greater transparency into business activities and eases communication of key information.

It is worth looking at all of the key details in the PLM process. PLM applies to the entire product lifecycle, from concept to consumer and fashion retailers can use PLM to simplify, organize, classify and control literally millions or billions of pieces of data across multiple stakeholders. Here are the details of just how many parts of the process there are and how PLM unifies them:

  • Planning – including financial, range and assortment plans
  • Design – including digital asset management, line lists, fit/grading and color palettes
  • Development – including sample tracking, construction, lab dips, costing, sourcing, licensing management and calendar management
  • Materials Management – including raw materials library/management, purchase orders, lab dips, color management, sample tracking, inventory management, material requirement, sustainability and bills of materials
  • Sourcing – including vendor management, vendor KPI’s, style management, purchase orders, UPC generation, SKU assignments, in-transit status and receiving
  • Production – including production tracking, quality control, compliance and final approvals


PLM clearly plays an all-encompassing role in the development process, but today there also must be focus on key technology aspects which contribute to the success of the business.  At the core of it, is configurable screens for the user community. We talk about teams collaborating but the reality is that each person needs to easily be able to access and input their key data points in the easiest way possible.  We all know that data entry is tedious and a “one size fits all” screen approach just cannot work. A streamlined vendor portal must be deployed in order to gain adoption externally to the retailers’ organization. And as we all have come to expect with modern technology configurable dashboards are a must.

PLM Solutions and key integration points

A solid place to start is with an integrated product lifecycle management solution with fashion-specific data fields that can be easily configured to suit the business process. When PLM is the system of record for product information, all data collected during design, development and sourcing can flow seamlessly into ERP, B2C and B2B systems when and where it’s needed. This allows for product data to be managed throughout the omnichannel lifecycle without a lot of redundant data entry, scanning or emails between colleagues and suppliers searching for information. Data remains consistent and centralized. It is also important to think about key integrations with designer tools such as Adobe Illustrator.

Use Cases and The Big Payoff

The fashion industry is littered with stories about poor adoption of technology. Even once a retailer goes live with a new system, the usage of manual spreadsheets can continue for weeks, months and sometimes indefinitely. But with a new generation of PLM in the market, it is important that retailers make another attempt at implementing this mission critical system.  Spring of 2020 has brought with it one of the most severe health crisis and business interruptions that we could have ever imagined.  So, typical metrics of saving 8 hours here and 4 hours there seem trite as we struggle to save businesses and jobs. However, if there is ever a time for pulling together it is now and there is no doubt that collaboration on a global scale will continue far into the future.

 

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Soon On-Time & In-Full will matter more than ever

Posted By RCVF Admin, Monday, April 13, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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Soon On-Time & In-Full will matter more than ever

By Victor Engesser, RVCF


Once this global crisis is behind us retailers and their suppliers will work quickly to get back to normal (or as close to it as possible) and that will start with communication, collaboration and new commitments to each other. What we learned from the OTIF Impact Survey earlier this year is that many of the business processes retailers rely on to support purchase order management can be improved to support better OTIF supplier delivery performance. Starting with forecasting, and ending with the final revision to the order (via PO changes) retailers should be working to constantly improve accuracy, reduce volatility, and better align business processes between each of their supplier partners to optimize performance.

Likewise suppliers, both big and small, must invest in the people and systems required to support not just demanding retailers requirements but also to be able to take sales and forecasting data they receive to develop manufacturing plans that allow them to meet or exceed market expectations. Their ability to communicate accurately what they can, and cannot, supply and to relay this information early in the ordering process is critical to improving OTIF performance. 

 As if all of this was not challenging enough the return to "normal" will be especially complicated as attempts are made to restock and re-balance inventories. With capacities strained allocation decisions will be necessary, causing forecasts to be inflated and orders to become more (not less) volatile. As costs and terms are revisited relationships will be tested. Now more than ever relationship management moves to the front of the line in importance. How well trading partners work with each other will determine the slope of their recovery. 

At RVCF we continue to focus on best practices, industry initiatives and collaborative solutions that make it possible for retailers and suppliers to optimize supply chain operations. Towards this effort we invite you to join our Webinar on May 7th and we will take you through all the survey details regarding how OTIF performance is impacted by the most common order management business processes and provide you with our best thinking around how relationship management in this area can be improved.

 

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