The chief sustainability officer of The Home Depot, Ron Jarvis, said that there are no environmentally friendly companies, and everything we do has an environmental impact with risks across the board, whether by carbon emissions, chemical exposure, or deforestation.
Jarvis is not alone when it comes to pondering the effects businesses have on the environment because retail supply chains are major contributors to today’s sustainability issues. Retailers operate businesses that sell products, thereby placing them at a sustainability disadvantage. Consumers want goods to support their needs, from appliances and electronics to home furnishings, clothing, and automobiles, and these goods are produced and sold using a great number of resources.
As we emerge from a global health crisis and grapple with continued supply chain shortages, inflation, and the ongoing shift to digitized shopping experiences, retailers are turning their focus to initiating greener and leaner operations and rethinking how their activities impact their carbon footprints. They understand the importance of sustainability, but they need the tools to properly manage their green ambitions. As more retailers are having these conversations, many are leveraging technology to gain insights into exactly where they can reduce their emissions and eliminate waste.
Retailers are creating more sustainable operations with the help of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and cloud computing. These technologies are boosting sustainability by enabling organizations to operate more efficiently with real-time information and deeper insights into operations. As an example, organizations that utilize ERP with predictive technologies like AI with embedded analytics can make decisions based on historical data coupled with outside data to assist in the predictive analytics, providing new ways to produce with less waste and reduce unnecessary energy consumption. Predictive technology is also allowing manufacturing leaders to analyze past datasets to predict trends in supply and demand, foresee weather patterns, and adjust inventory levels to improve business efficiency and meet sustainability goals. With operational insights, retail touchpoints can gain increased visibility by coordinating more accurate shipping routes, eliminating delays, and stalling of products.
As more businesses utilize the cloud in their operations, the amount of on-premise data centers globally is reduced. This should equate to having less impact on the environment, since newer cloud-based data centers focus on deploying greener technology. In addition, a cloud solution like VAI Cloud should have included High Availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery (DR) that guarantees customers 100% uptime, plus the outsourcing of infrastructure to free up internal resources, allowing for more efficient employee time management.
Technologies such as IoT and blockchain can also help enterprises along the supply chain to build sustainability KPIs into their ERP systems to calculate and record the exact environmental impact of business initiatives. Examples of this include greenhouse gas emissions per unit of revenue. Documenting these types of KPIs not only helps identify areas of improvement in terms of sustainability but is also helping retailers to sell their products to sustainability-conscious consumers.
Ultimately, creating more sustainable supply chain operations not only reduces the retail industry’s carbon footprint, but it also positions these businesses for long-term efficiency and success. ERP solutions and cloud technology are drastically improving sustainability and forecasting a greener future for the retail industry.