Maintaining quality control throughout the supply chain
Athletic clothing retailer Lululemon received a kick in the pants this week when the company found out it had shipped numerous pairs of defective, see-through yoga pants to its stores. The “Pantsgate” scandal holds a valuable lesson for small business owners, and shows just how in sync a company has to be with its suppliers in order to ensure standards and quality checks are met and upheld.
Due to the mistake, the retailer has had to conduct a massive recall estimated to result in $60 million lost in sales. Lululemon has a reputation of selling high quality athletic gear, which is why it comes as a shock that this will be the second time in less than a year that the company has had quality control problems. This past July the company had problems with dye bleeding from some of its brighter colored garments.
How do brands keep this from happening to them?
So if you’re a small business owner, how do you keep something like this from happening with your business? The greatest way to maintain high standards of quality is to frequently communicate with your suppliers. If you’re just starting out and your suppliers are in a different city or state, it may be best for the both of you to meet in person so that you can inspect product samples and make sure that they meet your specifications before rolling out hundreds of units for your store.
Frequent communication is also important whenever you come out with new products as defects will give a bad connotation to both the product and your brand, and cause a new launch to perform poorly. On a slightly different note, if you’re considering franchising or expanding your business to new locations, you will also need to conduct frequent quality checks to ensure franchisees and store managers are following your brand and product guidelines.
Incoming customers don’t differentiate from one location and another – whichever one they happen to come in contact with is the one that will shape their opinion of the brand as a whole, so quality should be consistent from site to site.