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What the buyer wants is of ut­most im­por­tance in the gar­ment busi­ness. More so as fash­ion is chang­ing so fast that some­times it be­comes dif­fi­cult to put the prod­uct on the shelves, be­fore the trend goes out of vogue!

The buy­ing of­fices of in­ter­na­tional re­tail­ers/brands have over the years mas­tered the art of ‘sourc­ing’, de­vel­op­ing over the time from be­ing merely post of­fices for the in­ter­na­tional clients to be­ing part­ners in ex­plor­ing new con­cepts, de­vel­op­ing ven­dors, groom­ing sup­pli­ers and sug­gest­ing busi­ness strate­gies that are coun­try-spe­cific.

Yet, chal­lenges al­ways re­main and con­stant train­ing is un­der­way to keep pace with new re­quire­ments in prod­uct, fac­tory com­pli­ances and the whole process of sourc­ing.

When I look at the do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ing sce­nario, I can see a gap in the sourc­ing side. I am not un­der­min­ing the cur­rent sourc­ing of­fices or the work they are do­ing to de­velop a strong ven­dor base for do­mes­tic re­tail…, but the re­al­ity is that there is still a long way to go to be able to work on sim­i­lar lines that the in­ter­na­tional buy­ing of­fices and even the buy­ing agents work in.

So many sourc­ing pro­fes­sion­als from top buy­ing of­fices have been roped in to work with top In­dian re­tail­ers like Re­liance, Fu­ture Group, Aditya Birla Re­tail to name a few, but the mid­dle and small brands and re­tail­ers are strug­gling to find the right for­mula.

This cross pol­li­na­tion be­tween in­ter­na­tional sourc­ing and do­mes­tic sourc­ing is a good way to up­grade and de­velop sourc­ing strate­gies for do­mes­tic re­tail, but the coun­try-spe­cific re­quire­ments and re­gional pref­er­ences must also be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.

Many of the ex­porters like to work with re­tail­ers/brands where pro­fes­sion­als have been brought in from the ex­port sce­nario. They be­lieve that the fit­ment will be more fruit­ful. Yet, in many cases, the re­sult is not on ex­pected lines.

This is mostly be­cause the re­quire­ments of do­mes­tic sourc­ing are dif­fer­ent and it is im­por­tant to bring in bench­mark prac­tices, but with the needed ‘twist’. The faster we are able to achieve this goal, the quicker the do­mes­tic mar­ket will be able to de­velop to a level that can truly be called global.

The is­sues in do­mes­tic sourc­ing are many…, and not nec­es­sar­ily re­lated to do­mes­tic brands. Even in­ter­na­tional brands sell­ing in In­dia have chal­lenges of sourc­ing. So ob­vi­ously it is not about ‘who’ the re­tailer/brand or the fi­nal pro­cure­ment agency is, but ‘how’ the sourc­ing prac­tices are com­pat­i­ble to lo­cal re­quire­ments.

Just re­cently, the Prime Min­is­ter had shown con­cern on sourc­ing prac­tices, spe­cially at the re­stric­tive and dis­crim­i­na­tory clauses be­ing im­posed against do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers in ten­der doc­u­ments for pub­lic pro­cure­ment.

The Gov­ern­ment of In­dia has made it very clear that it is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that both qual­ity and price con­sid­er­a­tions are not com­pro­mised, but this should not lead to im­pos­ing con­di­tions that re­sult in un­rea­son­able ex­clu­sion of do­mes­tic sup­pli­ers.

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