Ensuring traceability is crucial, but the work of the Head of Traceability is complex and requires deep operational know-how
Author: House of Eden
- Traceability is an issue that requires action
- Currently, the supply chain often bears the sovereignty of traceability
- Traceability is complex and combines sustainability, supply chains and communication
The importance of product traceability has become a critical focus. Especially as consumers, regulators and competitors are increasingly putting pressure on companies. There are companies in the fashion industry that are at the forefront of developing effective traceability systems. While this has often been a supply chain task in the past, the question arises as to whether it is time to hire a dedicated Head of Traceability.
A Head of Traceability has the important function of overseeing and managing traceability. This work is complex, requires a lot of operational knowledge and is cross-departmental. But some industry leaders like Ralph Lauren, VF Corp, Chanel and Pangaia are leading the way. They have created independent teams, departments and positions for traceability. Because ensuring product traceability is critical to ensure integrity and accountability.
Initiatives to strengthen the supplier voice are gaining in importance
Initiatives aimed at giving suppliers a stronger voice in shaping the future of the fashion industry are gaining momentum. On the one hand, this includes the use of the specialist knowledge of the suppliers. On the other hand, a closer alignment of the sustainability strategies of the brands to the realities of the supply chain.
Some companies have set up their own responsible transformation departments, which also deal with traceability. In other cases, a traceability function has been established within existing teams. The position connects supply chains with sustainability and communication. Since the traceability of products is also demanded by customers.
A digital solution can also be used to track the products and help to track the lifecycle of the products even after the purchase. With the help of Digital Passport, for example, companies can stay in constant contact with customers and offer resale, take back and repair services. This offers branding opportunities that were previously unthinkable.
No patent solution when looking for the Head of Traceability
However, finding the right people to lead these teams is a complicated process. The structure of the traceability teams varies depending on the company, size and individual needs. For smaller brands, traceability may fall under the responsibility of the Global Director of Sustainability and Sourcing. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building these teams. However, a clear structure and collaboration between IT and supply chain teams as well as product development, legal and marketing can help.
A Head of Traceability could be a wise investment for companies to ensure traceability is implemented effectively and efficiently. This person could take responsibility for the development and implementation of the traceability strategies. Also measure progress and ensure that the various stakeholder groups are involved. However, it is also important to note that traceability is a team sport. It therefore requires cooperation within the company as well as with the suppliers.
Despite the challenges, companies are under pressure to act to meet the new legal requirements for sustainable fashion and meet changing consumer expectations. Traceability teams are therefore essential.
No "one-size-fits-all" solution for traceability
The solution depends on the individual needs and goals of a company, whether hiring a Head of Traceability makes sense or not. Many companies could benefit from this role, especially if they focus on sustainability and transparency and want to implement a strong traceability strategy. However, other companies could be successful by incorporating responsibility for traceability into existing teams. It is important to ensure that all employees are on the same page and work together effectively.