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Guest Post

How to mitigate carbon emissions in your supply chain

By Zencargo

We have now entered the ‘decisive decade’ and it is time for companies to take sustainable action now. To avoid global temperature rises of above 1.5°C, CO2 emissions need to reach net zero by 2050 and to be cut in half within the next decade.  

The aftermath of COP26 has prompted governments to make climate pledges, and taught businesses and consumers all over the world that sustainability is essential in order to create a resilient future. Companies are beginning to create change by aligning their business goals to sustainable frameworks such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. 

A recent survey by the United Nations shows that companies rank supply chains as the biggest challenge to improve their sustainability performance. But after such a volatile year for the supply chain industry, tackling another major challenge may be quite daunting. However, businesses can use this an opportunity to create resilience in their supply chains. 

Recognising the potential sustainability can bring to supply chains, we have created a ‘How To’ guide on ‘Cutting CO2 from the supply chain’.

From addressing the challenges and identifying the opportunities, this guide walks through:

  • Why cutting carbon emissions makes commercial sense
  • How stakeholders through the business can benefit
  • Creating the foundations of a sustainable supply chain
  • How business can create an action plan to cut carbon emissions

To find out how you can start to build your sustainable supply chain today, click here to download the guide.

The importance of having an ethical supply chain

A recent Accenture Strategy survey of nearly 30,000 consumers in 35 countries found that more than half of UK customers “want companies to take a stand on issues they care about such as sustainability, transparency and fair employment practices.”

In today’s world consumers expect products that are safe, sustainable, and responsibly sourced.  They want to buy and connect with brands who care about the products and services that they offer; who value the importance of an ethical supply chain that will incorporate social and human rights together with environmental considerations into how they do business across the world.  To deliver on these expectations and secure consumer trust, businesses must ensure their supply chains are wholly transparent.

An ethical supply chain focuses on the need for corporate social responsibility, working to produce products and services in a way that treats its workers and the environment, ethically.  The pressure is mounting from all sides: NGOs, investors, governments, and consumers are all demanding more from retailers and brands.

Segura was founded in 2012 to combine digital expertise with detailed knowledge of global supply chains, in order to create a simple-to-use business solution. They deliver market leading solutions to retailers, focused on helping them to achieve ethical, sustainable and compliant multi-tiered supply chains through automatic supplier onboarding, mapping and reporting.

Peter Needle, Founder and President at Segura says that “our aim is that one day every product will come with provenance: accessible, trustworthy information about origin, journey and impact.  We want to empower shoppers to drive progress through their purchasing power and at the same time, generate rewards for brands making a positive impact on people and planet.”

Retailers have spent decades working on their supplier relationships. However, most of their focus has been on making apparel at the right price and ever faster – typically by increasing the number of suppliers. In a competitive marketplace, failure to respond to consumer demands can be catastrophic. But retailers have moved from dealing with a small number of large apparel manufacturers close to home, to a vast array of suppliers all over the globe.

Many solutions have sprung up over recent years, to try and help brands have more visibility and control over their suppliers. However, these companies don’t always offer the complete package and very often falter after the first tier of interrogations.

Peter believes that it is important to start with a central ‘top down’ system.  “The Segura platform has the capacity to map and validate all suppliers through multiple tiers, capture their supplier compliance and standards information, verify this by linking to audit and certification partners, and to draw in data from bottom-up tracking and other vertical systems.

“Once you have visibility in both breadth and depth over your supply chain, you can also target measures that will improve performance.  Observing the buying patterns of your suppliers will help you identify and tackle the many inefficiencies that exist. The savings made in this area can be ploughed back into your suppliers in exchange for improvements in their ethical and sustainability performance.”

Segura’s view is that any business should first adopt a central, top-down platform to map out all suppliers through multiple tiers, validate the suppliers , and provide advanced reporting, acting as the collaboration and control system. Once it has been embedded, other specialist solutions can be onboarded, and their value greatly leveraged. Peter believes that “tracking the orders cannot be underestimated, it gives suppliers fewer opportunities to use unwanted third parties, or factories in lower tiers that may be sub-standard.”

Segura is the only solution on the market with an order capture and validation function, their software platform provides a 360-degree view of every supplier within their clients supply chain.  The platform enables sustainable and ethical sourcing through multi-tier supplier mapping, compliance and reporting, providing retailers with the assurance that each product, and everything in it, has been made in good quality, ethical factories.

Hobbs, the premium British womenswear brand is the most recent TFG fashion brand to sign up with Segura, helping them to capture and map their supply chain by order, validating their suppliers as compliant with TFGs’ CSR standards.

“We are very proud to have successfully gone live with Whistles, Hobbs, River Island and a number of iconic brands so far and are moving forward with a number of other high-profile retailers” says Peter. “It’s confirmation that our knowledge and expertise delivers transparency and compliance for retailers, so that they can be sure that their suppliers are both sustainable and ethical.”

In conclusion, the landscape of supplier sourcing is changing rapidly and the demand to bring more visibility, control and accountability to retailers and brands is constantly growing.  Consumer demand has spoken, and they will not accept a brand without full supplier transparency.

Why your supply chain needs a dynamic cost model

By Zencargo

The last 18 months have seen the freight market at its most turbulent — and expensive — in living memory.  While most shippers know that they’re paying more, monitoring exactly how much more and how it affects profitability remains a challenge.

However, by moving to a dynamic cost model, logistics managers can adapt to market changes both quickly and strategically. Here are a few reasons why you should consider building one.

Costs are more unpredictable than ever

In a fluid freight market, total landed costs can vary from shipment to shipment, week to week or even day to day.

For example, additional sources of unplanned-for costs include:

  • Addition surcharges (PSS, GRI, Equipment Fees, Congestion Fees)
  • D&D charges from congested ports and delays with collection
  • Fluctuating haulage and trucking rates

Shippers need to manage profitability in real time

Decisions over what cargo to move, what to hold and what to expedite now need to be taken on a SKU by SKU basis.

That’s because cost variability means a profitable shipment in one month may become a loss-maker in the next, even with the same goods, in the same size container, on the same route and carriers. Especially in recent months, freight, storage, D&D and transport surcharges have varied significantly.

Without visibility over these elements, logistics teams lack the right information to see when an item becomes overall unprofitable, risking losses that won’t be apparent for months.

Building good data foundations gives you a long-term advantage

Once you have designed and built your model, you’ll be set up to measure progress and pinpoint key areas to reduce costs and improve performance.

Other opportunities might include:

  • Being able to hold suppliers accountable for hitting cargo ready dates
  • Reducing dwell times at node points to control extra charges
  • Keeping all the players across your supply chain informed

Ultimately, building a flexible model can help you to manage a lot of problems with one set of numbers.

For a step-by-step walkthrough on how to build your model, download Zencargo’s Cost Visibility handbook now.

DOWNLOAD: Shipping and Distribution – The State of the Deskless Workforce

Are staffing problems leaving your business high and dry? Download Quinyx’s new report for invaluable employee retention and scheduling advice. 

Current worker shortages in the UK are continuing to cause problems. Many firms are desperately trying to avoid business disruption as they attempt to plug staffing gaps, whilst running the risk of overworking existing team members too.

Workforce management solution provider Quinyx has released a new report aimed at leaders within the shipping and distribution sectors. Full of useful tips and advice on staff scheduling and employee engagement, the report outlines findings from Quinyx’s recent study of ‘deskless’ workers in the industry, highlighting what matters most to employees.

As the sector faces uncertainty following COVID-19 and Brexit, looking after loyal staff has never been more important. Quinyx’s report contains key insights on employee retention, plus details of how managers can implement scheduling processes to make day-to-day operations run more smoothly.

Download your free copy here.

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: T S Europe helps you manage logistics uncertainty

The lorry driver shortage is making headlines again. Grocery store shelves are empty, the prices of goods are increasing, and businesses are beginning to worry. The logistics world is volatile as industries are faced with the challenge of acclimating to the new, demanding changes.

Amid the chaos, Transport Services Europe has embraced the storm and is actively adapting to the new changes. By continuously analysing the market, keeping up with freight affairs, and speaking to different suppliers, we have formulated a comprehensive approach to tackle the driver shortage.

The business model of T S Europe is structured around providing a service that ensures fluid and transparent communication with an emphasis on reliability, – all while remaining competitive.  As a result, we have established, maintained and developed positive relationships with clients, such as Aldi, and McDonald’s.

The impact of Brexit and Covid has led to companies being faced with late deliveries, customs problems, and a competitive market. When transportation issues arise in the supply chain, businesses and consumers alike face the consequences. As such, T S Europe highlights the importance of establishing mutual trust with your transport partners. The added security of having a transport partner by your side every step of the way is crucial for a business to run smoothly.

In times of need, a helping hand makes all the difference.

tseurope.co.uk

What does good subscription box fulfilment look like?

By Prolog Fulfilment

Back in 2017 the Royal Mail report on subscription boxes predicted a rapid growth in demand over the next 4 years. Now, post pandemic, the latest report sees the value of the UK market having more than doubled in that period:

  • The subscription box market has grown by 135% since 2017.
  • Shoppers spent £1.4 billion on subscription boxes in 2020.
  • In 2020 deliveries of subscription boxes in the UK were just shy of 88 million.
  • The UK market is forecast to grow to £1.8 billion by 2025.

Subscription Boxes – A Trend for Our Time

Subscription boxes tap into the psyche of the ecommerce shopper. They’re the perfect antidote for consumers who are tired of endless choice and are looking for personalised packages offering a dopamine-fuelled rush of excitement each time a new box arrives.

Add into the mix two lengthy UK lockdowns during which ecommerce sales rose by around 80% and the rise of the subscription boxes begins to look inevitable. The most popular subscription box items are currently: male grooming, beauty products, fashions, niche food and drink products such as craft beers, gins and snacks.

Retail and Fulfilment Partnerships Make Subscription Box Success

Most subscription boxes start out simple, then become more complicated as customisation develops. Providing repeat items each month is simple. Additional customer approval and choice is manageable. Once they require individually customised bundles of items, though, it’s time to find a fulfilment partner.

What is Subscription Box Fulfilment?

Customised subscription box fulfilment is a complex task, requiring the development of failsafe processes on the part of logistics partners:

  • Inventory Management and Stock Control. Subscription boxes succeed or fail on their ability to adapt to individual consumer demand, fast.
  • Picking, Packing and Kitting. Well-trained warehouse staff assemble the boxes. Additional services are offered such as branding, gift notes and personalised extras.
  • The subscription box is shipped efficiently by trusted carriers. Any returns are dealt with promptly and efficiently by your fulfilment partner.

What Does Good Subscription Box Fulfilment Look Like?

Now is a great time for ecommerce retailers to dip their toe in the sector. Success depends on picking the right product and choosing a fulfilment partner you can trust.

Not sure how to assess the range of 3PLs on offer? Contact Prolog Fulfilment for expert guidance and support. We provide kitting, subscription box fulfilment, print & mailing solutions and prompt returns processing. Our goal is always to exceed your customers’ expectations and provide end-to-end visibility.

  1. Warehouse Management System. Comprehensive systems management for warehousing, ensuring seamless order fulfilment, and a prompt and faultless service for customers.
  2. E-Fulfilment Solutions. Fully integrated software and ecommerce fulfilment means that you can deliver personalised subscription services to customers, confident that complex orders are handled efficiently.
  3. Dedicated Customer Support Team. Prolog’s dedicated support team is on hand should you need us. You also have access to your account portal to review orders.
  4. Continuous Improvement. We make cost savings for customers through innovation. The additional value is an enhanced customer experience.

We’re excited by the potential of the subscription box market here at Prolog Fulfilment and we look forward to working with new retail partners throughout 2022.

Zencargo announces online event to address the new world of peak rates

As freight rates from Asia to Europe pass the $20,000 per 40ft mark, Zencargo, the digital freight forwarder has announced a new online forum to discuss what shippers can do to manage disruption in their supply chains. 

Scheduled for 14:00 on the 8th July, Surviving Peak Freight is being delivered in collaboration with Lars Jensen, global shipping advisor and CEO of Vespucci Maritime, an ocean freight consultancy.

The online event comes in response to the unprecedented disruption currently shaking ocean freight, where rates are at an all time high, while reliability is at an all time low. Experts now warn that conditions will be disrupted to some extent until H2 2022. In this scenario, the question is no longer ‘When will things get back to normal?’ but ‘What can I do to survive right now?’.

While options for shippers are limited, there are opportunities to manage disruption by planning ahead, collaborating with suppliers and being strategic in modal prioritisation according to shipment value and urgency. This event will explore these strategies, as well as shining a light on what shippers can expect through the rest of the year and into 2022, including: 

  • What we can learn from the current ‘perfect storm’ of rates
  • How to plan for costs in a volatile market
  • Scenario planning for different lengths of disruption
  • Strategies to manage spend at scale

To read more about the webinar and to register, click here and save your place.

Easing of lockdown and effect on the supply chain

With Step 4 of the Government’s ‘Roadmap out of Lockdown’ delayed beyond June 21st, Oliver Hall, Managing Director at allmanhall, the independently owned food procurement experts, comments on its effect on the supply chain and the foodservice sector…

After a challenging fifteen months, the food service sector is trying to remobilise and welcome back customers but is facing added complications from a supply chain under extreme pressure from multiple lockdowns. The challenges faced by suppliers are nationwide, and are a culmination of factors including the re-opening of hospitality creating an unprecedented surge in demand, recent good weather resulting in further heightened demand, and an extreme shortage of drivers UK-wide.

With these unexpected pressures on the supply chain, one unavoidable outcome is changes to delivery days and delivery frequency being enacted by suppliers. The national shortage of HGV drivers has had a huge impact on the whole supply chain with foodservice suppliers experiencing a knock-on effect on both in-bound and out-bound deliveries. Suggestions and proposals are being made to the Government, in an attempt to alleviate the driver shortages, even including military intervention.

One way for foodservice providers to reduce the risk of inconvenience, is to place orders with suppliers  with as much advanced notice as possible,  a minimum of day 1 for day 3 ordering wherever feasible. These longer lead times will reduce disappointment and help ensure orders are booked before any temporary cut offs are imposed by suppliers. Some suppliers are also making other adjustments, such as restricting the availability of a significant number of ambient and non-food split product lines. This will help to speed up picking times and help vehicle dispatch times, thus helping to meet delivery expectations.

Forward planning and communication are crucial when it comes to placing orders or liaising with suppliers over stock shortages and alternatives. However, all sectors of the hospitality industry have had to adapt “on the job” to deal with major changes in the way they operate. Staff shortages and training deficits is a worrying outcome of the lockdown, and together with depleted financial reserves, and the intensity of new operational requirements (increased cleaning, sanitisation, supervision of customers to ensure they are leaving their contact details, logging in using track and trace), may impact back-office tasks. 

By allocating these tasks to team members and ensuring they have the capacity to do the work along with other operational requirements, pressures can be eased.  It’s important to remember that all suppliers are struggling and many are working together to address shortages and meet customer’s demands. Another alternative is to outsource to a procurement provider, who will have a case and resolution handling service, and a helpdesk who can contact suppliers on your behalf.

Another result of the pandemic has been a rise in prices of foodstuffs. allmanhall operates analysis and insight updates throughout the year on food pricing, and 2021 is likely to be a volatile year which  is now being experienced through the supply chain. Many input prices and raw material costs are at the highest that they have been during the last 4 years, with a resulting rise in food prices.

A procurement expert will monitor these price fluctuations, negotiating and mitigating price increases as much as possible.

Digitalisation in the supply chain – Better solutions made easier

By Kevin Rogers, Managing Director, Elanders UK

The COVID pandemic has resulted in much being written about the importance of a robust supply chain and how it is managed and controlled. In that context, what has the past 18 months taught us as consumers and as managers in the supply chain? Amongst many:

  • The need for greater supply chain resilience and the better use of data / technology.
  • The need for agility in both the design and execution of a supply chain solution.
  • Cost is important – but – is it all that is important?
  • Greater clarity on product segregation that we now buy – critical to have vs like to have. 

Progress and evolution of supply chain solutions will always keep happening – what worked yesterday will probably have to change and adapt to meet tomorrow’s needs. Keeping businesses fresh and on point, utilising the latest technology and data to support this constant evolution is now the norm. For businesses – this constant progression and development of solutions is a fundamental strategic requirement to be successful in the future.

As consumers, we have seen a rapid change in both what we buy, but more importantly how we buy the products and items we need. The prolific rise in the e-commerce and omni-channel retail use is also changing the business landscape. For retailers, who historically managed the direct customer interface and engagement in a physical shop, they now must pivot their customer experience to more of the on-line solution – where the actual physical interface and engagement is now via the supply chain solution and delivery.

E-commerce solutions though have their problems. As consumers, we become increasingly more defined on what items we now want and buy on-line, and it is easy to get frustrated and “dissatisfied” with the buying experience because of the lack of personalisation, engagement and communication that may happen during a sale. Where this is really visible though is in how returns are managed and processed from consumer back to the retailer. 

This is where the Elanders Supply Chain return product integrated platform can support. Using technology and data to make better informed decisions that benefit both the consumer and the retailer. 

  • For the consumer – how they feel the returns process is conducted and how they feel the interaction back with the retailer values them.
  • For the retailer – how it allows both a bespoke classification of the individual consumer and what return rules apply per individual and how each specific SKU is assessed for its e-commerce profitability and contribution.

Historically – many organisations had one business solution for all return’s management and interaction with the consumer. Today, there is now a single returns management platform and operational solution that is agile in its structure, adaptable in its scale and customisable in its interaction with individual consumer. The Elanders platform integrates the customer returns experience with the retailing profitability needs – data driven technology that makes a better solution for all and helps make life that little bit easier.

Elanders Supply Chain: Customer returns solutions – Reimagined. 

For further info please visit www.elanders.co.uk or contact addingvalue@elanders.com.

The rise of the virtual supply chain

By Adam Bimson, Chief Customer Officer, Vuealta

How do you deal with a business that will sell your products, use data and algorithms to adjust product costs, and get said products to your customers in a manner that’s faster, more efficient and far superior to anything you could do yourself? This is a question that publishers have been wrestling with for years, and a challenge many other sectors have failed to heed. 

The business in question is Amazon, and it is dominating sector after sector thanks to a very simple process. It has access to a lot of data, which it uses to gain insights into the likes of price elasticities and demand shifts. Its data-rich virtual world, powerful algorithms and empowered staff enable it to make quick decisions based on the latest insights. These data-driven advantages are built on top of a fast and agile supply chain, which has the ability to deliver ultimate customer satisfaction. Now, incumbents have begun to realise that Amazon is on a course to steal huge market share, and they’re scrabbling to find a response in order to compete with the digital giant. 

The question is whether other businesses can truly compete with the ex-Bezos machine, or whether they must accept their fate and take what they can get from a company that has revolutionised the way we buy everything, from books and groceries to technology infrastructure.

In fact, they can compete. One answer lies in virtual supply chains and requires businesses to recognise that supply chains compete, not companies. The supply chain will of course always be physical, but if multiple businesses can act as a single intelligence sharing entity, there is the potential to become a strong Amazon competitor. 

Partnership could be the key to better agility

So how can the brands that consumers have come to know and love achieve the same agility as Amazon? Ultimately, it’s not necessary to invest in controlling every aspect of their own supply chain, but what they should consider is partnering with some or, even better, all of the other players that make up their supply chain networks. For example, partnering with retailers gives suppliers additional market data, information and insights, which in turn empowers employees by enabling rapid decision-making. Integration with suppliers, on the other hand, enables retailers to offer a more agile response. 

Ultimately, Amazon is showing brands that they cannot keep acting as islands.  

This has also led to the major shift towards direct to consumer (D2C) that we have seen in recent years, which has been further propelled by the pandemic. The advantages this model offers, including having direct access to POS data, is one of the key reasons it is being so widely embraced by so many brands and wholesalers, and will continue to be post-pandemic. In fact, a recent study found that more than half (52%) of wholesale businesses have begun D2C selling since the coronavirus pandemic first started, while another 18% plan to launch D2C sales in the next 12 months.

D2C gives companies end-to-end control of their relationship with and delivery to the consumer and allows them to generate in-depth insights from the data gathered as a result, just like Amazon. So, brands are ultimately going D2C to gain Amazon-like benefits. 

The brands embracing these different approaches are directly targeting the three elements that make Amazon’s offering so strong – data, insights, and agile response. 

A new way of managing supply chains

From the perspective of a virtual supply chain, data and intelligence provide the insights that brands need to empower people and processes to make decisions rapidly. They inform pricing, trends, and ultimately decisions. 

To create a true virtual supply chain though, this should also be paired with the ability to offer an agile response. This ultimately needs to be underpinned by a fast supply chain and good information sharing that ensures insights are delivered downstream to the suppliers. Great scenario planning is also increasingly recognised as a core competency in any supply chain as it supports a great number of possible responses to expected or unexpected market changes by enabling people to quickly assess and evaluate feasible options and make the best decision for optimal response. This might be in response to consistent moments in the calendar, such as peak seasons; unforeseen events, such as political coups, trade wars or global pandemics; or they might be unseasonable weather influencing what consumers want to buy. 

Whatever these events are, scenario planning, driven by data and the insights they provide, is critical for brands looking to build a supply chain that is agile and can adapt to changing circumstances without impacting the consumer experience. 

Mirror Amazon, don’t replicate it

Brands are only going to stop Amazon eating their lunch if they can identify what has made the ecommerce giant a giant, and then see how they can replicate it for their own business. That doesn’t mean companies becoming a mirror version of Amazon; it means identifying strengths and weaknesses, finding partners to plug the gaps, and underpinning it all with data intelligence that can help it react as rapidly and intuitively as Amazon.