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Garment retailer manages label inventory online

Men's apparel retailer Tropical Sportswear gains access to label order information.

Pw 17567 Copac

Instant answers are needed in a typical workday at Tropical Sportswear, Tampa, FL. Starlet Borzymowski, vice president of purchasing, told Net Sourcing, “My company runs by the premise that things have to happen by the minute. We can ship an order of garments within eight hours. So, if I have instant information on where my labels are, it gives me much more flexibility.” Tropical Sportswear buys labels and tags for its men’s clothing line, such as a paperboard tag called a “pocket flasher” that goes in the back pocket and a “joker tag” paperboard tag that goes on the waist of each pair of pants. In the past, Tropical Sportswear would call its label supplier, Copac (Spartanburg, SC), to check its order status and would wait for a Copac representative to call back with details. In August 2000, Tropical Sportswear began using Copac’s online tracking system at to check the status of orders, release inventory from stock, and track current shipments.

Real-time inventory An important benefit enjoyed by Tropical Sportswear is that it can manage its label inventory at Copac—via the Web—before it ever reaches Tropical Sportswear’s warehouse. “Being able to see what Copac actually has in inventory gives us the ability to manage our inventory better,” she says. For example, if Tropical Sportswear has an order for 200ꯠ pocket flashers and Borzymowski needs 50ꯠ of them in the warehouse immediately, she can go online to check the status of the order and release finished inventory from the label converter’s stock. “Even if my [order] is not due until next week, chances are that Copac has started producing the order already. If some of those pocket flashers are available, I have the ability to release the stock [online] and bring in the amount we want to have in inventory on our floor,” says Borzymowski. “Having inventory at the supplier that we can bring in on very short notice actually helps us carry as few days of inventory as possible.” In cases like this one, Borzymowski estimates, her company can reduce the length of time it carries the entire label order in its own inventory by about 10 days. She adds that it is difficult to determine an overall inventory reduction figure for all its tags and labels because of the breadth and fluidity of its packaging materials inventory. Once the inventory release button is clicked, Copac ships the specified amount of inventory. Shipments can be tracked online. The site also provides details such as which trucking vendor is delivering the order, when it was shipped, and contact information for follow-up.

Saving time online Copac also offers online procurement, but Tropical Sportswear still prefers to place orders offline. Once orders are placed, though, the apparel retailer can check their status any time on the supplier’s Web site. On a weekly basis, Borzymowski tells Net Sourcing, using Copac’s online access system to check order status can free up at least 20% of the time that would normally have been spent on the telephone. “The problem with [phoning in for an order status] is that you leave a voice mail and you don’t know when they will get back to you,” says Borzymowski. “[Online access to current order information] is much quicker and much more efficient because it eliminates all the phoning back and forth.”

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