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7 Ways to Woo Consumers with a Sustainable Supply Chain

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When it comes to positioning business for success, today’s brands must look beyond a traditional go-to-market strategy. Where social views used to remain behind the company curtain, a recent study shows that 70 percent of people believe companies are obligated to address and improve social issues that may not be relevant to their daily business — with sustainability emerging as a top hot-button initiative. In fact, a Nielsen report shows that two-thirds of global consumers are willing to pay more for products from sustainable brands or brands that are committed to being environmentally friendly.

While the idea of sustainability as a competitive differentiator may send some brands into a panic, any brand can make sustainable improvements — starting with the supply chain. Logistics and supply chain solutions are integral to brands’ value chains, providing many opportunities to deliver value-adding services that increase efficiency and reduce required inputs and overall global impact. Brands can start with these seven areas of the supply chain to meet consumers’ expectations for sustainability and advance their business goals.

1. Seamless Supply Chain

To make a more sustainable supply chain, brands need to first view both their physical and digital components as one, united system. With a holistic view, they can target which areas to optimize and select end-to-end solutions that help operational efficiency and cost reduction objectives, demand planning, multichannel process integration, and corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives.

2. Value-Added Warehousing and Distribution

Brands can strategically place and ship products to optimize inventory investments and lessen waste. This can start with demand planning services and end with transportation management tools that streamline, increase efficiency and reduce costs across brands’ logistics functions.

3. Material Planning and Factory Supply

Solutions geared toward material planning, kitting and assembly, and factory supply can empower brands to approach packaging materials and accessories more intentionally. By taking a deliberate and personalized approach to material strategy, brands can know exactly how many resources go into packaging and where certain resources could be reduced or even eliminated.

4. Returns Management

A turnkey returns management solution can be a brands’ best friend. Where returns used to mean wasted inventory, brands can recover value by investing in one solution that manages receipt, return materials authorizations, sorting, triage credit processing, and the ultimate use or reuse of the returned product — eliminating costly handoffs and decreasing inventory processing time.

5. Repair and Recovery

Brands can strategize product remanufacturing to recover value on every return, no matter the circumstance, to ensure products don’t end up wasting away on warehouse shelves or in a landfill. Defective returned items can be repaired, refurbished and sold as b-stock on the secondary market, or recycled to ensure brands are environmentally responsible.

6. Responsible Sourcing

Sustainability programs need to start at the source — especially when 65 percent of surveyed Americans (and 76 percent of surveyed millennials) say they will research a company’s social or environmental efforts to ensure they’re authentic. By implementing responsible sourcing and sustainable production into their supply base, brands can provide consumers with products and services that abide by their ethical standards.

7. Supplier and Partner Assessments

One of the most important resources for brands to protect is their workforce. With companies making headlines for poor worker conditions, it should be every brand’s priority to check, evaluate and select suppliers against social criteria pertaining to labor practices — including human rights, and health and safety aspects — to minimize the social impact in the supply chain. Brands must also make sure their supply chain partners make the same efforts. ModusLink works to provide its customers with peace of mind by operating a socially responsible supply chain, as evidenced in this 2017 Sustainability Report.

As social responsibility continues shifting to the forefront of business, organizations that don’t prioritize sustainable efforts will lose more than value in their supply chains. Today’s competitive commercial landscape has made brand loyalty more fragile than ever — making it time for brands to take a stance, even if it means starting small.

To learn how ModusLink can manage the complex transition to a sustainable supply chain, check out our Corporate Social Responsibility page. For more information on the supply chain solutions that can support sustainable efforts, visit our solutions page.

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