By: Terri Shadrix
We don’t operate one, but our customers tell us that running a Tent and Awning Factory requires a choreographed dance of great designs, durable fabrics, and efficient inventory operations. We say it’s a dance because using high-grade technical materials is critical to the product performance, but you can’t tie up operating capital buying and stocking huge minimum order quantities.
That’s where an Inventory Stocking Program can help out.
We challenged our Fabrics and Technical Materials Team to share their best ideas on how small manufacturers of high quality tents and awnings can use Inventory Stocking programs to balance the equation.
Pro Tip 1: Let Suppliers Keep You Informed Of Options in Tent and Awning Fabrics
Fabrics and fabric technology is changing so rapidly it can be hard to know if a better alternative has come along since your last buying decision. And it can take a tremendous amount of time for manufacturers to research and sample new fabrics to see if they meet the product standards. There are also real costs if you factor in trade show attendance and creating prototypes with sample fabrics.
The best wholesale fabric suppliers are already at the shows and are keeping up with industry developments – take advantage of that. And should you ever experience a shortage these suppliers are likely to connect you to equivalent substitutes you can get on short notice.
Pro Tip 2: Order From Suppliers With Multiple Warehouses
One way to avoid tying up cash is to take delivery of only what you need when you need it. But that “when you need it” criteria is easier said than done when the wholesale fabric you want requires a large minimum order quantity. The cost of such a large order can cause you to stall the order and can disrupt the production supply.
The ideal situation is often a middle ground – order the larger MOQ, but then and take and pay for partial deliveries over time. In a nutshell, that’s the rough idea of an Inventory Stocking Program. With careful coordination, a good Supplier can deliver on a dime if they manage your stock from distribution centers closer to your factory.
Pro Tip 3: Choose Suppliers With Connections To The Source
While it may be tempting to use a distributor who can ship small minimum order quantities, it may be more important to partner with one that has strong connections to multiple textile factories in multiple countries.
It’s often this up-stream connection to textile factories that alerts the supply chain to a great price deal or new fabric technology developments that can be important to a smaller Tent or Awning manufacturer.
Pro Tip 4: Consolidate Purchasing Where Possible
It can help to consolidate orders with a single vendor or two if Inventory Stocking Programs are to work smoothly. Buying your higher-volume core materials from the same supplier of your lower-volume technical fabrics can win you better terms and lower stocking volumes on specialty items.
Remember that suppliers have to keep trucks full to keep shipping costs down. The better programs coordinate with your production schedule and keep the assembly lines humming. Staggering delivery of smaller quantities of low-volume materials can smooth out receiving operations and cash flows.
Bottom Line: Partner With The Right Suppliers
In exchange for being supplier of choice, the best wholesale fabric suppliers are acting as an extension of the Factory staff determining where alternative fabrics can be used, or where new cost effective custom-fabrics can be developed.
Better suppliers proactively suggest and sample fabrics that Tent and Awning manufacturers depend on, bringing new ideas to the table. Finally you want ensure you are doing business with a textile importer/supplier with a proven record of delivery, quality an expertise.
Talk to our Fabrics Team about an DirecTex Inventory Stocking Program.