BACKGROUND : Global sourcing has increased as buyers searched for new markets that offered
better pricing, quality, variety and delivery lead times than their local markets. However, the
increase in global sourcing has also exposed businesses to many supply risks.
PURPOSE : The purpose of this descriptive qualitative study was to explore the global sourcing
supply risks encountered by small clothing and textile retailers in Gauteng and to determine
what supply risk identification and management approaches they utilise.
METHOD : This study utilised semi-structured interviews conducted with 12 small clothing and
textile retail owners.
RESULTS : The study found that the three major supply risks encountered by these retailers were
fluctuating exchange rates, communication barriers and costly and complicated logistics,
which included high customs costs. Furthermore, although aware of the supply risks, none of
the small clothing and textile retailers had formal identification and management approaches
in place. Instead, risks are dealt with at the sole discretion of the owner as and when they
occur. The study also found that informal identification and management approaches were
being applied by some of the retailers. These included factoring exchange rate fluctuations
into the profit margins and using translators to combat communication barriers.
CONTRIBUTION : The study is one of the first empirical studies conducted on global supply risks
and the associated identification and management approaches in the South African small
business context, specifically focused on clothing and textile retailers.
CONCLUSION : Small clothing and textile retailers need to proactively identify and manage
global sourcing risk using the identified approaches in order to reduce and mitigate potential
This article is based on the MPhil dissertation of K.M. who
was the main researcher. W.N. assisted as a supervisor with
the conceptualisation, literature review, research instrument
and review of the draft manuscript. T.K. provided
methodological and technical guidance.