Learning from Target: how to achieve optimal supply chain visibility
Target has become the latest retailer to increase transparency in its ethical processes by introducing new product safety standards. The new ‘Sustainable Product Standard’ will check the ingredients lists of beauty and cleaning products across its stores, and survey its vendors on the sustainability of their products’ ingredients. Target hopes that by increasing transparency and challenging manufacturers over harmful chemicals, it will encourage them to find more sustainable formulas.
Whatever the nature of your supply chain, it is important to know that your ingredients or raw materials are safe and sustainable, but it isn’t just the products themselves you need to have visibility of; what about the people behind the processes in your supply chain?
As 2013’s twin supply chain scandals have shown, it can be very difficult to eliminate risk and fraudulent supply chain activity, particularly when manufacturers and other elements of your supply chain are located overseas where visibility is limited. Factory fires in Bangladesh are commonly caused by manufacturers’ lax health and safety measures, often overlooked in retailer audits. The horsemeat scandal stemmed from a general lack of visibility of where the manufacturer’s raw materials came from. In both cases, retailers expressed regret but also surprise at the fraudulent and unethical activity exposed in their supply chains; many simply did not have the necessary visibility of processes at the back end.
One way to increase the visibility in your supply chain is to use supply chain management software such as ediTRACK’s ‘Lighthouse’, which includes a ‘Supplier Set Up’ module enabling you to thoroughly assess the risk of new suppliers and factories before you commit to using them. ‘Supplier Set Up’ generates detailed profiles on suppliers and manufacturers, data from which can then be used to arrange and track supplier and factory audits. A four-stage assessment and approval process managed via an accessible secure dashboard ensures transparency of processes, even those that take place overseas. Furthermore, the onus is on the supplier to provide the relevant information.