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10 Ways Supply Chain Analytics Contribute to a More Sustainable World

When companies analyze their supply chain operations, if they’re just looking inward—seeking out cost-cutting measures and ways to boost production efficiency—they are missing the bigger picture. Amid today’s climate emergency, it’s vital that a company also collects data for the purpose of being globally sustainable, both in quick internal wins and long-term goals for the planet as a whole.

Here, Tobias Grabler, COO of supply chain software solutions company Topo Solutions, outlines 10 ways that supply chain analytics contribute to a more sustainable world:

#1 Supply chain analytics help businesses adapt a mindset change
As a starting point, it helps to achieve a single source of truth, ensuring that everyone in an organization bases business decisions on the same data, relying on facts at every level in an organization instead of gut feeling. Organizations that are dedicated to a culture of analytics and a willingness to reimagine processes will lead the way to realizing value and business outcomes when it comes to resiliency, performance and sustainability.

#2 Supply chain analytics create both visibility and transparency
Unfortunately, greenwashing in the fashion industry is still widespread around the globe. However, this might be about to change. Consumers are becoming more critical toward their products, and supply chains are becoming more transparent, exposing existing greenwashing claims and discouraging new ones. Advanced sustainability solutions must apply a holistic approach to sustainability, otherwise brands and retailers quickly go down the greenwashing road. There are factory workers, chemicals, packaging, CO2 emissions in your supply chain, so naturally a lot of stakeholders involved. It is a joint effort to achieve sustainability along the entire chain, and this type of 360-degree transparency gives apparel companies the ability to make better decisions that align with their sustainability promises.

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#3 Supply chain analytics help you achieve your sustainability targets
By collecting and analyzing data on a wide range of sustainability-related factors—including energy and resource use, greenhouse gas emissions, packaging, chemicals and factory workers—companies can generate the deep insights they need to guide their sustainability-related initiatives and improve overall resource efficiency. Thanks to the latest tools and techniques, and advanced analytics platforms such as Topo, users can conduct near real-time sustainability analysis on vast quantities of data, keeping track of important KPI’s in three dimensions: past, present, and future.

#4 Supply chain analytics connect all stakeholders in the value chain
Digital transformation integrates digital technology into all areas of a business, resulting in fundamental changes to the way a business operates and collaborates with its stakeholders along its supply chain. A digital supply chain platform unlocks seamless collaboration and instant communication—an essential component to effective supply chain management and business resilience. With supply chain collaboration, different entities work together toward shared objectives and conflict resolution, which improves agility, reduces bullwhip effects and enables enterprises to orchestrate their supply chains more effectively.

#5 Supply chain analytics create a shared view of impacts
Centralization of all sustainability data lets you eliminate misunderstandings and loss of data, so you can capture all your sustainability information in one place. This keeps stakeholders updated about your environmental footprint and sustainability progress regardless of their location, and enables end-to-end supply chain transparency and speedy transmission of information and latest developments. It means establishing real-time shared visibility and processes with supply chain partners to facilitate effective resolution of issues and more effective decision-making.

#6 Supply chain analytics help a company develop actionable insights about a supplier or product
Data is meaningless unless it helps make decisions that have measurable impact. Companies must set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals for suppliers in order to steadily guide them towards improving products and processes, frequently monitor progress, and provide guidance and support to help suppliers achieve targets. The most effective approach is not to push these tools on suppliers, but to listen and respond to their needs using agile software that can be easily adapted to new processes.

#7 Supply chain analytics create a competitive edge
According to a recent survey by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, 68 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products and 50 percent of purchasing decisions are influenced by sustainability claims. Moreover, the interest in green is strongest amongst younger generations, who are increasingly voting with their wallets. Companies that embrace a green supply chain will enjoy a competitive advantage in the market

#8 Supply chain analytics revolutionize your sustainability management
A digital supply chain platform and its advanced analytics function puts you in control of your sustainability needs. It breaks down data silos, creating transparency and supporting data sharing and collaboration between different systems, and it help you collect and centralize sustainability data so you can analyze the data, create insights and target ways to improve. Your business will become central to shaping the future of environmental and social friendly products, driving the transition to a circular economy and a sustainable future. A more transparent, agile and flexible supply chain leads to happier consumers, greater alignment with regulations, and deeper engagement with supply chain partners.

#9 Supply chain analytics offer enhanced agility
Our current world is characterized by constant uncertainty, changing laws and ongoing supply chain disruptions. Timely and actionable insights are crucial for organizational survival, allowing companies to quickly adapt to internal or external changes such as extension of product assortments, changing processes, laws, geopolitical tensions, changing consumer behavior, and more. This future-proofs a business.

#10 Supply chain analytics help with compliance
Sustainability isn’t just about reducing environmental damage, it also means treating supply chain employees and their communities in a safe and ethical way. We’re seeing legislation that increasingly puts worker rights front and center, such as the German Supply Chain Act that increases scrutiny for supply chain businesses. It means that companies can be held legally accountable if any of their suppliers or indirect suppliers engage in criminal or unethical behavior like child labor, forced labor or slavery.

Your business can stay a step ahead of legislation while ensuring the proper protection and care of the supply chain workforce by working with workforce systems across your supply chain partners to ensure proper labour standards, and integrating with certificate providers to prove you’re properly accountable.

To learn more about Topo Solutions, click here.