Shoe manufacturers may have some reservations about how to conduct business in the global footwear market. When you want to ensure not only ethical but sustainable business practices that promote growth, choosing the right partner for your overseas operations and transactions is critical.
The following five tips are essential to finding a footwear sourcing partner that knows how to navigate the international industry:
Tip #1: Institute Documentation Accountability That’s Multi-Tiered
The current compliance system that most of the industry functions under isn’t dynamic enough for high levels of compliance in such a complex, constantly evolving industry.
Your footwear sourcing agent should be arming its inspection team with a regular set of checklists that have to be filled out, submitted and evaluated by a manager. This process should then result in action items and improvements that are scheduled for completion.
Multi-tiered recordkeeping holds everyone accountable – it’s an ongoing process for achieving a truly accountable system of compliance.
Tip #2: Avoid Working With Third-Party Inspectors When Possible
Misconduct by third-party inspectors is the biggest challenge with compliance in the global footwear market. A factory can be in perfect condition with clean floors, proper vapor control and strong worker safety standards, yet still be the victim of extortion.
Getting away from these third-party inspectors and working directly with senior teams at trusted trading partners drives out unnecessary complications during business transactions in the global footwear market.
To ensure you’re partnering with a trustworthy footwear sourcer, let potential partners show you how they operate from an evidentiary basis. Ask for documentation that substantiates how they conduct their business and the companies they do business with.
Tip #3: Ensure Consistency With Footwear Materials And Construction
When you outsource overseas, you may not receive detailed information in terms of materials and construction of your footwear. Without this insight, you’re sure to experience quality issues at some point.
You need a partner that ensures consistency – this is the cumulative result of discipline and documentation that helps to standardize methods. And this really comes down to the mindfulness of your global footwear sourcing partner and its commitment to documenting on a detailed level.
Instead of trying to fix problems or make repairs after something breaks, your partner should be reacting to what’s happening in its factories and have the ability to solve issues. That’s how you get better compliance and a better end product into the global footwear market.
Deep documentation along the production line creates a higher awareness of possible issues affecting quality and defect rates.
Tip #4: Conduct Detailed Training And Oversee Daily Production
You can’t just give workers a design and say, “Here, sew this.” You need to provide training, guidelines, illustrations and the right tools to ensure equal measurements of material. Quality, in terms of repeatability and scalability, is critical to protecting your revenue and profits. The old model of merely inspecting and correcting will only get you so far.
Controlling the quality of raw materials in the global footwear market is also a real challenge, so look for a sourcing partner that has its own in-house testing lab and inspects materials on an ongoing basis.
Tip #5: Know How To Move Through The Global Free Trade Market
There’s a lot of political uncertainty about free trade in the global footwear market. That’s why it’s critical to have a partner that understands how to move fluidly to where the advantages are, without interrupting your supply chain.
With an increasing proliferation of modern industrial practices around the world, skilled people and businesses in places like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and even Bangladesh are viable alternatives for footwear manufacturing.
In Vietnam, for example, they structure their operations and compensation in a way that promotes employee integrity and social issues. It’s a team-based approach that results in consistency in quality.
While you may have viable concerns about manufacturing your products overseas, it’s important to also consider the advantages. The global footwear market is changing and westernizing, in terms of both quality and compliance standards. You just have to find the right partner that knows how to move through the obstacles and carve out your path for shoe manufacturing success.
Ready to learn more about finding the right global footwear sourcing partner?