Sample Management @ A Global Fashion House
The US press office of a global fashion house had, among its duties, the responsibility to fulfill editorial, celebrity and VIP sample requests for shoots, red carpet events and other noteworthy appearances. The set of samples allotted to the press office for this purpose was limited in nature. As demand for the brand’s goods among editorials, celebrities and VIPs was already high and steadily increasing, samples would need to go from one client fitting and event to the next at a rapid pace. Further complicating matters, issues in transshipment often resulted in samples being returned late.
How could the press office better govern its sample workflow, with a specific eye to tracking and accountability?
We conducted interviews with several members of the press office’s staff responsible for the sample request process. We learned that part of the issue was that several stakeholders were charged with fulfilling discrete client requests out of the same limited sample pool. Communication was ad hoc, and it was difficult to know where a sample was at any given time. Furthermore, return deadlines were not effectively tracked, often resulting in delayed or missed deliveries to waiting clients.
We assessed the press office team’s level of comfort with various technology systems which could be utilized in developing a comprehensive tracking mechanism. After determining the most effective option, we developed an easy-to-use database system for inventory tracking, including built-in reports for items with short turnaround times, destinations with likely shipment issues, and others.
Furthermore, we developed internal policies and procedures around the use of the database, management of client relationships, and a series of potential mitigants to known transshipment issues. We enabled the team to work in a more unified manner, relying less on 1-to-1 lines of communication within the team and allowing any team member at any time to track where a sample was, when it was expected back, if / when it would be due anywhere next, and the level of risk of delay pertaining to the sample’s return. Clients across the board were now receiving more accurate communication from the press office on sample availability and improved results followed.