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Agents diversify offerings, turn suppliers

Sourcing executives have varying views on tapping into agents. For example, Li & Fung is an agent. The company is moving away from the traditional role of an agent towards a new supply chain model with more value added services. And even though factory direct has had greater appeal with companies trying to stay closer to their product and processes, that hasn’t hindered Li & Fung in its approach.

Li & Fung has slipped from its perch as a force vital to sourcing, but in recognizing that, the company has been working to restructure, revamp and renew faith in what an agent brings to the table.

Knowing that there’s still a role to play, Li & Fung has been considering how to appeal to a client that perhaps wasn’t knocking on its door before. The solution: Unbundling services. This is like ordering a la carte. There are core solutions the company offers and then tailored offerings, things like digital sampling, that a client could focus on if their budget doesn’t allow for an agent to manage every detail.

But using an agent really comes down to the needs of the business. Bonobos works with one agent and works factory direct with the rest. For Bonobos, building better direct relationships with vendors is vital to help scale the business, keep things innovative and allow the company to maintain the low level of inventory it keeps.