Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and its growing importance in supply chain management is a top priority for global fulfillment managers. ESG supply chain management is critical to maximizing the benefits of omnichannel ecommerce and warehousing and distribution services. ESG in supply chains refers to the three key factors companies consider when evaluating their environmental, social, and governance impacts. As supply chains become increasingly global and complex, ESG considerations are gaining importance in supply chain management.
Companies are now expected to manage not only their own ESG supply chain risks and impacts but also those of their suppliers and partners. This requires a focus on transparency, accountability, and sustainability across the supply chain. As reported by the Harvard Business Review, “an organization must view the available options and then adapt in near-real time by collaborating with external partners” (Padgaonkar). Let’s take a closer look at the top five things to know about ESG in global trade for 2023.
Shippers are responsible for transporting goods from the point of origin to the end of consumption. As such, they play a critical role in global trade and are a crucial stakeholder in ESG supply chain management. Shippers are expected to comply with emissions, labor practices, and product safety regulations. They are also responsible for selecting carriers and modes of transportation that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.
Today’s global trade fulfillment and supply chain management depend on advanced and integrated technologies such as mobile apps, cloud-based platforms, real-time data analysis, on-demand communications, and intelligent predictive analysis. Establishing an innovative and effective marketing strategy boosts communication with all involved parties easier. That includes increased collaboration to handle load and product information, marketing campaign points, or import and export logistics.
ESG management within the modern supply chain makes it easier to stay ahead of the competition and overcome the most common ecommerce challenges. Consider the impact in the value chain. According to Forbes, “businesses need to start tracking emissions, diversity and other ESG data and reporting it, similar to how they annually report financial data. This already represents major challenges for many organizations, even before considering that much of the same data will need to be gathered from suppliers. That’s because emissions that can be traced back to supply chain activities are categorized as “scope 3” emissions and must also be reported. Given that up to two-thirds of a company’s emissions can fall under scope 3, this isn’t a regulation that organizations should delay preparing for” (Three International Regulations That Will Impact US Supply Chains In 2023). Clearly, shippers that need to gain control over their full emissions in the value chain can do so with a better overall network design.
ESG in supply chain considerations is now integrated into supply chain design decisions, including product design, supplier selection, and transportation planning.
This requires reducing carbon emissions, promoting social responsibility, and ensuring good governance throughout the supply chain. Companies are also enhancing their supply chain transparency and traceability, allowing them to manage ESG risks and impacts better.
Best ESG supply chain design practices include setting clear ESG performance goals, developing a comprehensive ESG strategy, engaging with suppliers and partners on ESG issues, and incorporating ESG in supply chain considerations into product and process design.
Global fulfillment plays a critical role in supporting sustainable supply chains. Companies are increasingly looking to reduce their carbon footprint and other ESG-related impacts by using more sustainable transportation modes, such as rail and sea, and by consolidating shipments to reduce waste and emissions. They also explore alternative fulfillment models, such as regional distribution centers and direct-to-consumer delivery, to reduce transportation-related emissions, including those occurring in warehousing and distribution.
Companies can use global fulfillment strategies to reduce their carbon footprint and other ESG-related impacts by optimizing transportation routes, selecting carriers with low emissions, and consolidating shipments. They can also use technology to improve visibility and traceability throughout the supply chain, allowing them to manage ESG risks and impacts in global fulfillment effectively.
It also helps improve the customer journey and simplifies tracking of all steps involved in any transaction- whether the goods are moved from a distribution center, a brick-and-mortar store, or from a shop online.
The growth of omnichannel ecommerce is creating new challenges for ESG supply chain management. Companies must deliver products quickly and efficiently across multiple channels while managing their ESG in supply chain risks and impacts. This requires focusing on sustainability, transparency, and innovation across the supply chain.
Omnichannel and multichannel processes complement the ecommerce trend and make it easier for retailers, wholesalers, and consumers to get what they need when needed. With an innovative and fully integrated omnichannel approach, ecommerce, omnichannel retail, and even wholesale companies implement ESG processes much more efficiently. And funding is projected to be more accessible following additional investment on behalf of governments.
For example, WBCSD noted that, “The US Inflation Reduction Act, which is projected to pour over $400 billion into the US sustainability market over the next decade” (ESG Insights: 10 Things That Should Be Top of Mind in 2023).
Potential solutions for managing ESG risks associated with omnichannel commerce include using data analytics to optimize transportation routes and reduce emissions, using sustainable packaging materials, and exploring alternative fulfillment models. Companies can also engage with their customers and stakeholders on ESG issues, promoting sustainability and social responsibility throughout the supply chain.
New technologies and processes are improving ESG performance in warehousing and distribution. Companies use automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence to reduce waste, improve efficiency, and reduce emissions. They are also exploring new warehouse designs that promote sustainability, such as using renewable energy sources and optimizing natural lighting.
Specific innovations in warehousing and distribution supporting sustainable supply chains include green roofs, energy-efficient lighting systems, a focus on improved omnichannel ecommerce, and renewable energy sources. Companies are also exploring alternative delivery models, such as drone and autonomous vehicles, to reduce emissions and improve efficiency. But regardless of what options exist, companies must take notice and get the right data. As reported by Matt Rickerby of Extensiv, “Inventory analytics are an essential part of any inventory management solution. They give you valuable data about how your inventory is performing, how much it costs, and more. Multi-location inventory management solutions often provide a variety of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and reports to help managers make informed decisions about their business operations. (‘How to Improve Your Multi-Location Inventory Management’)”
This use of data will guide companies toward a more sustainable future.
Mastering ESG services are more accessible with the right global fulfillment partner who can offer warehouse and distribution services that meet your needs. Reward your loyal customers and offer the finest personalized experience and shipping services with ModusLink. Omnichannel marketing and ecommerce integration is the way of the future for supply chain management and operations. Contact ModuLink today to learn more and to see how environmental, social, and governance integration can improve your global trade processes.
“ESG Insights: 10 Things That Should Be Top of Mind in 2023.” World Business Council For Sustainable Development (WBCSD), 16 January 2023, https://www.wbcsd.org/Overview/News-Insights/Member-spotlight/ESG-Insights-10-Things-That-Should-Be-Top-of-Mind-in-2023. Accessed 10 March 2023.
“How to Improve Your Multi-Location Inventory Management.” https://www.extensiv.com/blog/multi-location-inventory-management, https://www.extensiv.com/blog/multi-location-inventory-management. Accessed 10 March 2023.
Padgaonkar, Pranav. “How to Build Supply Chain Resilience Without Sacrificing ESG Goals or Inflating Costs – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM GEP.” Harvard Business Review, 29 March 2023, https://hbr.org/sponsored/2023/03/how-to-build-supply-chain-resilience-without-sacrificing-esg-goals-or-inflating-costs. Accessed 31 March 2023.
“Three International Regulations That Will Impact US Supply Chains In 2023.” Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2023/03/09/three-international-regulations-that-will-impact-us-supply-chains-in-2023/?sh=2c18b7186b3f. Accessed 10 March 2023.
Content is the opinion of ModusLink Corporation and is not intended to act as compliance or legal advice.