Changing consumer attitudes are impacting the way goods are manufactured and how they make their way to the shop shelves or the warehouses of online business.
The process of making goods and getting them to the places where they are required can be an immensely complex process, which is often unseen by the customers clicking, collecting and shopping.
Each and every individual product has its own supply chain story, with each element of the goods starting off at a grower or manufacturer, before travelling through its own supply chain to make it to a point where everything is joined together.
After these processes are complete, the final steps of the journey can take place, from the final manufacturer to the wholesaler and retailers warehouse, waiting store call-off or release for on-line sales.
Either way, the whole process takes a great deal of time and effort, from getting material or produce out of the ground, processing it into product, distributing it to customers and finally returning the product to the ground in a sustainable way, which is where supply chain management plays such a key role.
Increasingly consumers are considering the full effect of buying a product: The values and practices of the company from which they buy, the social impact of items being bought, and who benefits from the purchase all playing a role in how consumers feel about the products they are buying, and ultimately whether or not they will put their hand in their pocket to make a purchase.
Attitude are changing and evidence is showing a stronger demand driver for sustainable products.
As global communication technology evolves, consumers have clearer insights into an organisation’s supply chain, from the distribution of goods, to the process of disposing of waste and the final journey of the goods.
The computer giant Apple, publishes an annual supplier responsibility report, freely available to download, which gives fans and critics alike the opportunity to take a look into the supply chain of the business and understand how it is managed. The company has gained plaudits in recent years for highlighted and fixing incidents of child labour brought up in their own internal audits.
Allport Cargo Services remain the only forwarder yo operate an ethical trading policy globally and publish results of independent audits on an external web site.
The greater questioning of the supply chain and the overall processes implemented by a business do pose threats and challenges to future successes, but it is also possible that these issues can help a company take a look at the way it supplies its goods and make changes for the better.
Supply chain transparency technology, like our LIMA system. allows each and every member of the supply chain network to see and know where resources are, if a “supply chain event” occurs, which could be triggered by something as simple as an increase in demand, or something more serious, such as cataclysmic weather events.
In this situation, all members of the supply chain are alerted to the problem, which can ensure those who are not affected are able to step in and pick up the slack left by those that are.
Mobile technology with location services, like RFID, has the potential to improve the operation of the chain and supply management, as it can track people or objects. Container ships and even individual containers can now be tracked, letting companies plan their supply chain more effectively.
The impact of the supply chain on the environment has also been brought into focus in recent years, with research indicating that when the consumer becomes the last part of the supply chain, by buying a product and taking it home they typically create 4,274g of carbon dioxide.
However a van that delivers the item to your house as part of its round only generates 181 grams of carbon dioxide per item delivered.