As Party City looks to improve its efficiency across inventory management, merchandising and vendor compliance operations, EVP and COO of supply chain Peter Smith says he’s particularly interested in how the retailer can better leverage in-house data.
It’s part of what pushed the retailer to partner with supply chain platform TradeBeyond in September, the executive told Supply Chain Dive in an interview.
“Strategically our goal was to consolidate as much data into one system of record and have that data available across the enterprise,” Smith said. “The breadth of functionality that TradeBeyond offers is a huge contributor to the end-to-end, real-time, digital supply chain visibility goal of Party City.”
The use of the tech solution comes after Party City spent years battling continual supply chain challenges and rising costs, leading the retailer to file for bankruptcy in January as it fell behind on supplier payments and racked up debt. Since then, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas approved the retailer’s restructuring plan, but the case is still open.
A year ago, Party City had very little recorded data on what was happening in its supply chain, whether it be purchase order issuance or receipts at domestic distribution centers, Smith said. Now, the retailer has a digital, real-time, end-to-end view of every purchase order and movement in its global supply chain.
For example, purchase orders were previously issued and emailed to vendors with a PDF attachment. Now, using an application programming interface, also known as API, integration with TradeBeyond, Party City’s vendors can receive and acknowledge purchase orders by accepting or rejecting them within 48 hours before an automated reminder is sent through the platform, Smith explained. This change helps facilitate faster, real-time inventory decisions at Party City, he added.
TradeBeyond also aims to help improve Party City’s vendor compliance across different criteria, such as environmental, social and governance and corporate social responsibility, Smith said. In this case, the previously manual process of collecting compliance documents via email will be replaced by a system in which documents can be directly uploaded to TradeBeyond for review and acceptance.
“This level of visibility and integration into all of our systems brings an unprecedented degree of clarity and flexibility to the supply chain team,” the COO said. “The enhanced visibility and agility translate into reduced costs and improved service levels for Party City’s fleet of retail and wholesale customers.”
The first phase of implementation with TradeBeyond went live in early September, with plans to roll out additional capabilities in the upcoming months, according to an Oct. 25 emailed press release from Party City.
Smith noted that the next phase of the project is slated to roll out at the end of February, which will enable the retailer to amend certain purchase order data points directly in TradeBeyond. Currently, the retailer has six TradeBeyond modules at various stages of development, including vendor compliance management, order issuance, product development, costing, shipping and quality assurance, he said.