Stitching together a door-to-door global supply chain requires more than the ability to route shipments, track cargo or comply with customs rules. The job requires close collaboration with suppliers and designers to develop products before they’re packed in a box or container.
Those are the skills and capabilities global trade management company Amber Road gained this month through the acquisition of ecVision, a cloud-based software company specializing in procurement, manufacturing and design support for footwear and apparel companies.
“Fundamentally, what this does is round out our capabilities to support end-end international supply chains,” said Scott Byrnes, vice president of marketing for Amber Road, which announced the $24 million acquisition of Hong Kong-based ecVision March 2.
That support “starts with collaborating with foreign suppliers to design and develop new products,” Byrnes said. “And that’s where ecVision really begins.” The company’s software focuses on managing vendors and production, raw materials, products and quality.
That front-end functionality complements the global trade management capabilities of Amber Road, Byrnes said. “We pick it up at the point where the advance ship notice is generated, and we do all the things related to planning the export from the supplier to the retailer.”
That includes booking the carrier, tracking cargo, handling customs compliance and ensuring delivery as goods move from suppliers “to the brand company and the retailer,” Byrnes said. That kind of end-to-end product lifecycle management is what customers want, he said.
ecVision works with major retailers and brand-name manufacturers such as Li & Fung, PVH Corporation, Coach, Brown Shoe Company and VF Corporation, representing underlying clothing brands such as Calvin Klein, Timberland, The North Face and Tommy Hilfiger.
The end goal of shipper customers is to build nimbler supply chains that can quickly respond to changes in fashion and to crises that could disrupt freight flow. “ecVision is trying to help people get nimble,” said Byrnes. “It gives them tremendous competitive advantage.”
In broader terms, Amber Road’s acquisition of ecVision is part of a trend across the international supply chain management software market, Byrnes said. “It’s very similar to what happened in the domestic supply chain software market years ago,” when vendors raced to acquire the software modules needed to offer a complete enterprise SCM package.
ecVision also gives Amber Road, a $64.8 million company in 2014, an advantage in China, expanding the company’s footprint there. Amber Road entered the Chinese market in 2013 by acquiring Shanghai-based EasyCargo, which specializes in Chinese customs regulations.
“We believe China is poised to grow rapidly in terms of global trade as it becomes a more consumer-driven economy,” Byrnes said. “That’s going to require more imported goods. We’re strong on both the import and export side, so we’re poised to take advantage of that growth.”
In addition to its Hong Kong headquarters, ecVision has offices in Shenzhen, China, and Iselin, New Jersey. “There’s all kind of growth happening Pan-Asia right now, and ecVision’s resources in China will help us to springboard into other parts of Asia,” Byrnes said.
Conversely, Amber Road's global trade management services give ecVision customers greater supply chain visibility and stronger connections to customers and partners in North America and in Europe, where Amber Road has operated for several years.
Eventually, Amber Road will take the technology ecVision offers in the footwear and apparel vertical markets and offer similar functionality to other brand-name businesses and retailers, he said. “Our intention is to roll these capabilities out across other verticals, but we’re going to focus heavily on apparel and footwear, as they are ecVision’s strength right now.”