Gone are the days when retailers could bury unethical practices in a convoluted supply chain; and this is a good thing. Modern customers want to know where the products they buy are sourced from, which means ethical businesses can use their supply chain transparency as a powerful selling point.
However, a supply chain is a complex animal with many moving parts. If you’re not 100% sure how supply chain finance works or you’re concerned about the trustworthiness of a supplier, read on for five simple strategies that will help you establish a sustainable and ethical supply chain.
Perfect Your Practices – 5 Strategies That How To Set Up Your Supply Chain Better Way
1. Know Every Link In The Chain
A supplier may seem ethical on the surface. However, it’s important that you look into the companies with which they trade to ensure the supply chain is above board at every link. Many businesses have been caught out for using suppliers who were sourcing goods from forced labor factories in foreign countries. There are all sorts of ethical issues that can be buried in a supply chain, so if you wish to be transparent with your customers, it’s essential that you commit some time to investigate the suppliers with whom you trade.
2. Go Digital
Just as you employ workforce management software to keep your internal operations under control, so too should you have an integrated system for your supply chain management.
A cloud-based, data-integration system will allow you to easily scale your orders to float with changing demands and market conditions. It’s also far easier to prevent falsification of documents when your supply chain is digital, thus giving you better control every step of the way.
3. Take Advantage Of The Internet Of Things (IoT)
Combining the first two strategies and taking them a step further, IoT oversight of your supply chain can give you insight into the minutest of details. For example, you can get data on the temperature of goods as they move through the delivery process or the quality of components that went into the products you’re purchasing. This level of insight can give you peace of mind while also providing you with a strong suite of evidence to back the quality claims you offer to customers.
4. Do Your Homework
Child exploitation, human rights abuses, corruption, poor working conditions, and slave labor are unthinkable sins in most advanced, democratic economies. However, these and other issues are, unfortunately, rife in many nations that produce the goods that we purchase. You don’t need to be a foreign policy and geopolitics expert to figure out which countries are problematic from a trade perspective. There are numerous resources freely available online where you can check the general ethical standards of countries with which you may be doing business
5. Never Stop Monitoring
It would be nice if you could just “set and forget” with your supply chain. However, the reality is, companies are always shifting and changing. A trading partner who had ethical practices last year may decide to cut corners this year, putting you at risk of supporting practices that don’t meet your ethical standards.
For this reason, it’s essential that you do regular checks to ensure you always have a finger on the “pulse” of your supply chain. Let your suppliers know that you’d like to be kept abreast of any changes they make on their end, but do your own due diligence as well.
Supply chain ethics is no simple matter. However, you can cultivate a sustainable and ethical supply chain by implementing the strategies above and then committing to ongoing checks and maintenance. Though it does require a commitment of time and energy, the results for you and your customers are well worth it in the end.