The second major programme of the CCTC is focussed on developing a better understanding of the practical, operational requirements of a Quick Response (QR) value chain model, and then introducing the relevant knowledge and tools to local industry. The distinguishing feature of the QR model, pioneered by Inditex, parent company of the Zara retail brand and the largest private label apparel retailer in the world, is its shift away from price as the primary market driver, towards greater emphasis on flexibility and speed-to-market. This enables the retailer to respond on short lead times to observed customer preferences, thereby reducing markdowns and stock-outs, thus generating greater retained margins than under the traditional long lead time model.
Cluster interventions are targeted at both manufacturers, to enable them to exploit their proximity (and thus lead time) advantage relative to international competition, and retailers, to educate them on the benefits of shifting towards a QR sourcing model and the operational changes required to realise those benefits. The primary activities of the cluster in relation to QR are summarised below.
1. Best Practice Research and Curriculum Development
The CCTC and its sister organisation, the KZN CTC, have carefully studied the QR model through desktop research and periodic study tours to best practice regions such as Turkey and Spain. This led to the publication of a comprehensive and unprecedented Handbook for the Practical Implementation of the Quick Response Model in South Africa. A second edition of the publication is being prepared to include new learnings and serves as a guide to the Cluster’s QR training workshops.
2. QR and Supply Chain Training
Utilising the training material developed under (1) above, this element ensures that learning is transferred to industry to support implementation of the QR model. Training sessions of customised depth and duration are undertaken to help unpack the QR model and the fundamental change management that is required for effective implementation.