Case Study

Sporting Goods Retailer Takes Safety And Product Testing To A New Level

Will Your Traceability Initiatives Reach Regulatory Compliance?

This U.S.-based retailer is an omni-channel sporting goods powerhouse offering a broad assortment of top-brand sporting goods equipment, apparel and footwear. They operate 645 locations with a blend of dedicated associates, in-store services and unique specialty shop-in-shops.

The Challenge

As a producer of reliable, high-quality products that their loyal customers have come to expect, product safety and compliance are major focuses for this sporting goods retailer. They work hard to find trustworthy parties with the right capabilities to ensure compliance with global and U.S. consumer product safety laws such as the Consumer Product Safety Information Act (CPSIA). Along with a myriad of provisions, the CPSIA also requires importers to issue a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC) based on a gamut of product tests.

This retailer tests almost everything in their stores, including private label items and licensed products that are produced on behalf of the national brands. Softline products go through a series of tests including material, bulk and finished goods tests before the products are passed. Hardline products only require annual testing.

Working with multiple third-party auditing and testing vendors alongside their own internal testing services, the retailer verifies that each product meets industry standards and regulations. This adds complexity to the critical decision-making and effective management of the multi-stage productlifecycle.

By using both external testing company platforms and home-grown legacy systems, the data was scattered and not integrated into a primary supply chain management solution. Without automation, it was nearly impossible for the retailer to collect the accurate data and conduct the analysis required to ensure product compliance.

The Solution

The company began searching for a more robust program that could incorporate a holistic approach to sourcing, production and testing. They chose the Amber Road Product Testing module in 2014, starting first with a supplier on-boarding and social compliance program. Product testing functionality went live early in 2015.

The cloud-based solution pulls together internal teams, a multi- tier supplier base, designated testing labs, auditing companies, and compliance monitors into one centralized platform. This collaborative portal significantly reduces the amount of manual input, speeds up the testing processes, improves data accuracy, and ensures regulatory compliance.

Today, the system allows for the creation of GCCs using the data from reports that are received in the system directly from the labs, pulling in product and supplier data already housed in the system. Furthermore, product safety and compliance functions aren’t just between compliance teams and factories. The Amber Road solution enables product and component inspections to be scheduled with third-party inspection companies and internal teams.

Currently, online inspection forms are attached to these requests, providing an inspector with the detailed inspection requirements. When complete, these forms are printed or shared electronically to track production quality and compliance results. This level of collaboration enforces consistent standards and gives the brand the ability to lockdown activity with non-compliant suppliers.

Amber Road’s mapping tools also let supply chain managers visualize their primary supply and feeder streams. By unifying the data from products, factories and raw materials, orders on this platform become traceable so compliance managers can identify areas where risk is most prevalent based on historical data and alter the course to alleviate future failures. More importantly, if a recall or safety issue arises, they are able to trace it to the origination point. Action can then be taken to attempt to minimize the current breakdown and verify which products have been affected.

The Results

Amber Road’s solution has enabled the retailer to automate and streamline product quality, safety and compliance management processes throughout the entire product development lifecycle. By substantiating a more holistic approach to their manufacturing, Amber Road’s Product Testing module provides a number of direct benefits, including:

  • The ability to take preventative measures through visibility and reporting
  • Pre-emptive processes to anticipate and respond promptly to potential risks
  • Focus on uncertainties rather than certainties

Amber Road is engaging with many of the major labs and auditing companies that the retailer works with to streamline collaboration between development, sourcing, quality assurance and compliance teams for products that require testing under CPSIA, REACH, China GB, CA Prop 65 and other regulations.