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How Joules and Boden are creating supply chains fit for the future

Clear data and collaboration are at the heart of creating strong supply chains within fashion retailers, Boden’s operations director Ben Dreyer and Joules’s head of supply chain Rachael Williams said at Drapers Fashion Forum.

Chat show: What does a fit for purpose supply chain look like today

 Rachael Williams, head of supply chain at Joules and Ben Dreyer, operations director at Boden with Drapers editor Keely Stocker

Dreyer and Williams described the key steps retailers can take to ensure their supply chains are fit for purpose.


The sheer amount of data at retailer’s fingertips regarding the supply chain can be a challenge in itself.

“Try to keep it clean and not get overwhelmed by the amount of information,” Williams said. “Get the data and then apply a level of common sense to it. Don’t just assume that the data is telling you the right thing.”

Dreyer added: “You need to get practical data that you can actually use. You can use data in a very clever way, but you have to be practical and clever. Artificial intelligence, when used well, is the way to get through that data, and should be able to produce for you the data you want in a usable format.”

Define your own terms

Dreyer urged retailers to think more specifically about what their own customers want, rather than being defined by wider market forces: “Work out what convenience means for your customers. Don’t let Amazon define what convenience is for your customers, because their expectations and needs may be different. Work out what is convenient for your customer and focus on that. When it comes to returns, they need to be as slick and easy as possible.”

Williams added that experience can be as important as convenience when it comes to meeting customer expectations: “You have to delight your customers. We get lots of feedback from our customers about how much they love receiving their wellies in a big floral box, so it might not matter if that delivery took three or four days. It is also about getting the retail experience customers will get in the store into customer’s home when they receive a package.”


Working together with partners will become increasingly important for successful supply chains over the next five years, Williams said.

“We’re already looking at we can use our networks better and who might be able to fulfil from where on other people’s behalf,” she explained. “It is about leveraging networks and playing to different partners’ strengths.”

Dreyer concluded that retailers must ensure they have a clear view of stock: “Working across different channels and international markets is all about having the right stock in the right place. That’s a big driver for us, because you can pour money away if you get that wrong.”



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