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NRF: 'Digital will transform how we look at the entire supply chain'

Digital will allow retailers to push excellence across the supply chain said Robert Burton, executive vice president at Li & Fung Sourcing.

nrf lee adams head of npd and marketing at catalyst robert burton at li and fung and deborah weinswig of fung business intelligence unit

nrf lee adams head of npd and marketing at catalyst robert burton at li and fung and deborah weinswig of fung business intelligence unit

NRF: Lee Adams, head of NPD & marketing at Catalyst, Robert Burton executive vice president at Li & Fung Sourcing, and Deborah Weinswig, executive director of Fung Business Intelligence Centre

Speaking at retail technology show NRF in New York, Burton highlighted that as production costs continue to rise, margins are being squeezed and customers’ expectations of an efficient and speedy supply chain are higher than ever – especially in the case of fast fashion. He said that whilst there is an abundance of data throughout the supply chain, it must be used to improve efficiencies – and a digital cloud-based solution could be the answer.

Burton said: “If we can gather information from the factory floor and work with fabric providers to insert RFID [radio frequency identification tags] into product, we get transparency which will transform how we look at the entire supply chain.”

He also pointed out that this would allow for a form of benchmarking for factories which would enable areas of improvement to be identified.

Also speaking on the panel was executive director for Fung Business Intelligence Centre, Deborah Weinswig, who gave her predictions for future technology trends in retail including ‘additive technology’ (the application of nano technology in fabric) to offer intelligent clothing that performs a function such as motion sensing and being water repellent. She also said that 3D printing would evolve and become more mainstream as will wearables and drone delivery, which is already being used by San Francisco pharmaceutical company QuiQui to deliver prescription drugs.

Another of Weinswig’s predictions was the evolution of ‘smart malls’ with increased use of beacon technology allowing for data collection across kiosks, apps and motion sensing technology. She also cited facial recognition as an area of global growth with 30% of retailers already using facial recognition to track customers in store.

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