The lesser-known cross-border e-commerce giant Shein is valued at $100 billion, ranking fourth among technology startups in the world. How does it work ? At the core of the company is a flexible supply chain that companies like Zara have been pursuing for years, which Xiyin turned into a true infrastructure capability. One long-term supplier said that from 2014 to 2017, Xiyin invested most of its capital in this area, and even continued to do so as it scaled to ensure a near real-time response to volatile changes. need. They say Xiyin insists on doing the “dirty work” and all the others focus on packing their messy supplies with clean and crisp marketing and sales. In other words: to offer so many styles so quickly, that’s its sales strategy.
That’s how it works. Most of the hundreds of core suppliers are located in Nancun Town, Guangzhou. Xiyin’s Guangzhou headquarters is located. It is estimated that the company eats up half of the production capacity in the city’s Panyu district. There are two main types of suppliers: “free franchises” are those who produce simple styles without designing their own, and “original design manufacturers” who both design and produce. They all feed into Xiyin’s massive Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Designer-suppliers find images online and send them to Xiyin’s internal buyers for selection; buyers and their managers finalize a selection pool. After samples are received, it may take two or three rounds of modification before production. It all happened very fast. Samples of initial orders need to be mailed to Xiyin buyers and updated within three days. The company’s deadlines are very strict—more than five days and you risk being disqualified from a supplier; reorders take nine days or less. Combined with at least eight business days for shipping, that means it takes about a month from design to arrival at a customer’s door in the US.
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