Bringing supply chains closer to consumers offers the opportunity to accelerate a green commerce revolution

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Global pandemics and, more recently, military conflicts in Eastern Europe continue to significantly disrupt global trade, supply chains and consumers. However, in an unexpected turn of fortune, these same events provide an opportunity to rethink many of the approaches that have facilitated rampant consumerism and exacerbated the climate crisis.

In due time, this “redesign” may just be the spur brands and governments need to launch a sustainable green revolution in manufacturing, supply chain and retail.

As brands and governments seek to assuage future supply chain disruptions and the very real ripple effects that inflation is having on businesses and individuals, bringing supply chains closer to consumers as a matter of discussion (and all the potential long-term gains for consumers and the environment) is gaining more and more attention.

Bringing supply chains closer to consumers: a case beyond economics

Increased flexibility, access to a larger workforce, and reduced operational expenses are just three of the most frequently cited reasons why tens of thousands of North American and European organizations have moved important business operations abroad. And while the vast global supply chains that had risen to prominence since the turn of the millennium have undoubtedly bought into cost savings, they have also introduced a level of fragility that, until recent events, has not. was not fully understood.

While offshoring and acquiring raw materials and products in single, dominant markets might have been a good idea from a financial standpoint, having factories that produce 90% of the world’s semiconductors and microchips, or countries responsible for sourcing more than 30% of global wheat yields has highlighted the vulnerability and cost of single points of failure in global market conditions.

As a result, many organizations (both public and private sectors) are evaluating the benefits of bringing their manufacturing and supply chain functions closer to consumers in order to hedge against the inevitability of future market volatility.

Still, there’s a lot more to love about the potential to bring supply chain and manufacturing processes closer to the consumer than just economic and safety incentives. The “onshoring” or “rightshoring” movement of entire manufacturing processes and supply chain networks presents an enticing opportunity for brands to reinvent and reinvent their entire approach to sustainability and eco-friendly products and services, from zero.

It is well known that restructuring business processes and implementing any new (let alone more sustainable) approach can cost millions of dollars in time, technology and change management. However, it may also pay dividends over the long term, depending on Mahadeva Matt Mani of Strategy&member of the PwC network.

Building a new digital foundation

Costly as it may be, consider this: the ability to reinvent and implement more flexible and resilient solutions digital supply chain and omnichannel commerce technology and processes (with benefits) are a unique opportunity that most brands will never have.

It’s a chance to future-proof manufacturing methods, supply chain processes and delivery networks, not only meeting the demands and expectations of modern consumers, but also ensuring that these practices are also aligned with environmental sustainability goals – a perspective surely everyone in the world CEO up to the end consumer can be enthusiastic.

Greener supply chains as important as sourcing and manufacturing

While sourcing raw materials from fair and environmentally friendly suppliers is key to providing greener trading options to consumers, it is equally important to recognize the importance of operating supply chains. more sustainable supplies to deliver these types of goods as well. Failure to do so represents a huge missed opportunity.

Whether it’s Manhattan’s unique approach to three-dimensional cubing (packing goods for shipping and shipping air less); smart packaging and dunnage reduction; provide consumers with greener reorder, shipping and return options; or by combining shipments and reducing unnecessary returns, greener supply chains mean less packaging waste, more efficient warehousing, fewer trucks on the road and fewer planes in the skies.

It’s a win-win not only for profitability, supply chain efficiency and customer experience, but also for the environment — another example of how the application of digital technology ‘smarter’ can drive ‘greener’ results across supply chain networks.

Building for the long term

Global events continue to have a deep and lasting impact on how we view global supply chains in terms of resilience and environmental credentials. As brands and governments seek to mitigate the “next” big event, the idea of ​​moving manufacturing processes, goods and distribution networks closer to home/consumers is gain ground.

The key to the success of this new strategy rests on the ability of brands to continue to innovate at the supply chain level and to provide types of networks and solutions that are not only resilient and reliable, but also agile and responsive enough to make in the face of change. future needs of consumers and the environment.

Having a chance to start from scratch, away from any requirement to modernize legacy solutions and processes in existing business environments (often actually slowing down workflows rather than speeding them up), is the dream of CEOs, operations, technical directors and procurement. chain directors all over the world.

While the cost of relocating, building new factories, and implementing new technologies and processes may have a short-term impact on buyers’ pockets, the opportunity to rethink our entire approach to global trade and the ability to drive a retail green revolution is an opportunity we certainly cannot afford to pass up.


Ann Sung Ruckstuhl is Manhattan Associates’ SVP and Marketing Director. In this role, she is responsible for driving awareness and demand for Manhattan’s supply chain and omnichannel commerce solutions. With more than two decades of high-tech marketing and product management leadership, Ruckstuhl is an established Silicon Valley executive who has created successful start-ups and transformed Fortune 500 companies.

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