The COVID-19 pandemic has made businesses realize how vulnerable they are to an unexpected crisis like this, especially with regard to the global supply chains.
This crisis has been a wake-up call to companies about how opaque the supply chain is. The quest to source materials and products at the lowest probable price has led to more complex and longer supply chains. As a result, there has been a lack of transparency, flexibility, and an over-reliance on certain suppliers or regions.
With the global economy beginning to get back on its feet, businesses are thinking of ways to protect themselves in the future from such a sudden crisis. The answer lies in building a more resilient supply chain network that balances cost with a range of other risk factors. It is now clearer than ever before that the global supply chain model needs to be more transparent, resilient, responsible, and sustainable. It has become a business imperative rather than being just a company strategy.
What Is Supply Chain Sustainability?
Sustainability in a supply chain is a strategy that takes social, environmental, and economic factors. Evidence suggests that the businesses that follow this kind of approach are likely to weather the storm of a crisis like this pandemic than their competitors. The reason being that accounting for social and environmental performance in a supply chain network requires communication, transparency, and a thorough understanding of suppliers and the risks that they are open to. This information will be vital in managing weaknesses and retorting quickly in a crisis.
Why Is Supply Chain Sustainability Important Than Ever Before?
The first aspect that will lead a business to a more sustainable future is the supply chain, especially manufacturing inventory. Manufacturers need to develop new ways to track and manage their practices in the supply chain, sales and marketing, and the manufacturing process. Now, even customers have become increasingly active in supporting these measures.
Furthermore, more than improving the product quality, sustainability in the supply chain improves customer relations. Consumers become loyal to brands that they share their values with,. This is why businesses are now focusing on more sustainable practices that use ethically sourced materials and reduce waste. For instance, cosmetic brands that use recycled packaging and plant-based components and label themselves as “cruelty-free” or “vegan” build their customer base faster. Thus sustainability in the supply chain results in brand enhancement and loyalty.
Sustainability in the supply chain model has proven to bring better efficiency in the long term. Organizations experience a significant decrease in their costs over the long run, which is eye-catching to both manufacturers and consumers. Thus, making it a win-win situation for both parties when companies move to a sustainable supply chain model.
To create and implement a sustainable supply chain management system, the companies need to identify their sustainability goals and objectives and then develop a plan to achieve them. Businesses need to create a sustainability policy for consumers and suppliers that covers all factors.
Lastly, evaluating the supply chain from top to bottom to determine if it is sustainable or you need to change some things like vendors, suppliers or transportation options etc. For instance, if a business is over-reliant on certain suppliers or regions that face environmental risks, a business can manage that risk by diversifying the sources of supply.
Most companies now genuinely want to push in just labor practices and environmental responsibilities throughout their supply chain strategy. They are working towards improving their supply chain sustainability, often experimenting with unique collaborations with suppliers, consumers, and even competitors across geographies and sectors.
Moreover, companies are now using technology to analyze, tweak, measure, and optimize operational processes with continued advancements in technology. The insights gained through data analytics and machine learning are being leveraged to exploit opportunities for sustainable processes.
Furthermore, many rival organizations are now partaking portions of supply chains and collaborating on creating and establishing sustainable practices that can benefit everyone. By combining efforts, they are advancing the objectives and offering an opportunity to build credibility with industry and consumers while creating positive public perception.
Although the road to sustainability cannot be reached overnight since it requires initial investment and necessary changes in terms of procedure and culture. Companies are now focusing more on sustainability as they have realized that a sustainable approach to supply chains is now the only viable choice for success in the long term.