Manufacturing disciplines
As shown in Figure 9, the varied responses from each country show no real trends. Overall, the most popular choice is “manufacture to order, to stock or both” (35%). This is consistent across all countries with the exception of Italy, where “visibility through the production process” and “support different manufacturing methodologies” are both rated top by over one-third of respondents.

“Manufacture to order to stock or both” is favored by the UK, Spain and US, and to a lesser degree, by Germany and France. However, Italy did not rank this issue highly (13%). This issue was ranked first by significantly more distributors (in particular footwear distributors at 64%) than by manufacturers, while preference was evenly spread across company size.

“Visibility through the production process” was ranked highly in importance by a higher than average proportion of Italian and US suppliers and ranked highly by very few Spanish respondents. This issue is of significantly more concern to manufacturers than to distributors, although there is little difference between companies of differing turnover.

“Support different manufacturing methodologies” is the primary concern of the Italian suppliers with 38% ranking the issue as the most important. The same percentage of medium sized companies also gave this issue the highest ranking in line with the emphasis they place on responsiveness, suggesting that a variety of potential responses is required.

“Control production across multiple manufacturing facilities” is the most important manufacturing discipline issue to the German suppliers (30% gave the top ranking). Unsurprisingly, this issue is also ranked first by a considerably higher proportion of manufacturers than distributors. “Monitor production cost variances” is the least popular issue in terms of overall importance, although a greater proportion of large companies (18%) than the average have ranked this factor first.

Figure 9.   Manufacturing disciplines

 


 

 

Customer service & logistics
Figure 10 shows clearly the most important issue for suppliers is “rapid response to sales inquiries”. Over 40% of all respondents placed this issue ahead of all the others.

“Rapid response to sales inquiries” was ranked very highly by nearly three-quarters of all UK respondents and two-thirds of German respondents. Italian and US suppliers however favored “integrated electronic commerce”, with 33% and 52% respectively. It is difficult to rationalize why Italian suppliers should rate this factor so much more highly than their European competitors, when at face value the issue is of less direct relevance. A relatively high percentage of Italian respondents (33%), as well as their French and Spanish counterparts, also ranked “transport and distribution planning” as the most important issue. However across other countries and in supplier categories and turnover size groups, this issue is not generally perceived to be as important as the top two. This may relate to the fact that these three countries still have strong export markets, and therefore rely on good logistics to ensure high levels of service to their overseas customers.

“Integrated electronic commerce” is the most important issue for Italy with over half of all respondents ranking it as their first choice. This issue is also perceived by more manufacturers than distributors to be most important (24% compared with 14% respectively). It is also considered the most important issue by a greater proportion of medium sized companies (36%) than small (20%) or large (23%).

“ABC (Activity Based Costing)” was of relatively low importance to all countries and across all categories, indicating either low usage or a lack of knowledge.

CAP (Customer Account Profitability)” was ranked as the most important issue by Germany and US compared to other countries. Moreover, it appears of little importance to suppliers in France and Italy. Among supplier categories, CAP is considered to be most important by a greater proportion of distributors than manufacturers. Company size is a more important determinant of the importance of CAP than geographic location, as CAP is considered to be the most important operational issue by nearly one-quarter of the large companies. Given that these will be multi-national suppliers, with a high proportion of large customers, the economic viability of each is of critical importance.

CAP and ABC require a proactive approach, and it may be that their relatively low ranking is due to an over concentration on immediate operational issues.

Figure 10.   Customer service and logistics

 


 

The 1998 Apparel and Footwear Industries survey was carried out by mulitple research agencies co-ordinated by Benchmark Research on behalf of JBA.  This survey has been written in conjunction with Simon Shepheard-Walwyn of Kurt Salmon Associates (KSA), and Rob Jennings and Michael Pearl of JBA’s apparel, footwear business unit.