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We live in an age where companies large and small continue to pledge to be selective with their choice of suppliers. The partners that they are actively seeking out are those who are striving to uphold social and environmental values.
It also seems to be one of the values which the average consumer continually demands.
Creating resilient supply chains is another vital ongoing concern. The most resilient supply chains are those that “are built using processes and modern supply chain technologies that allow them to forecast, anticipate, and respond quickly to whatever risks or opportunities the future brings,” says SAP.
One common denominator found in resilient and sustainable supply chains is that they generally maintain a high level of communication and positive rapport with their chosen carriers.
Building and maintaining a good rapport with your carriers is essential to meeting your sustainability goals.
For instance, if your relationship with your carrier is weak, it’s highly probable communication is lacking. This breakdown of communication is what typically leads to delays of pickups and drop-offs, higher surcharges and shipping rates, and an overall less than stellar level of general consideration given to the partnership.
The EPA has outlined a series of steps that shippers should consider when procuring carriers who are focused on sustainability.
In their guide, the EPA suggests that shippers have a vital role in increasing carrier sustainability. The idea is that they fulfill this role simply by conveying information to carriers related to more sustainable transportation practices. As basic as this advice may be, it speaks volumes about the ripple effect that improved transparency and communication can have on the supply chain.
It’s important to note that consumers pay attention to how businesses attempt to reduce waste and practice sustainability. Specifically, 47% of respondents in a 2019 survey by Hotwire reported that they will no longer buy from brands that don’t share their values. A major value often cited by consumers is that of environmental sustainability, a concern that will continue to grow.
That’s nearly half of customers polled who would rather give their business to a brand that shared their values. The writing is on the wall; the average consumer is concerned with social and environmental efforts.
We continue to battle the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some shippers have started to wonder about how competitive they will be once things return to normal. After all, when there isn’t a massive disruption such as a global pandemic forcing supply chains to practice resiliency, will the extra costs of protection against disruption be worth it? Why should supply chains be spending more to be resilient, if they don’t need to be?
These questions are examined and eloquently addressed in an article posted in the Journal of Commerce Online.
In essence, what shippers and their carrier partners should be attempting to create is a resilient supply chain. A supply chain that can accurately predict and prepare for disruptions as well as adjust back to “normal” operations. Maintaining a huge supply of goods while inefficiently using carrier resources will not lead to a competitive advantage when things return to normal.
Rather, shippers and carrier partnerships need to leverage technology to appropriately forecast what resources will be needed in the future. In order to achieve this outcome, we again circle back to the importance of strong relationships, transparency, and communication.
Many supply chains were not prepared for this pandemic in terms of resilience. Granted, resilience during COVID 19 and resilience during the intervals between natural disasters, pandemics, and other huge supply chain disruptions are two very different phenomena. They should be treated as such, but we should not neglect the lessons of these disruptions. If we do, we risk a potential fall into the same trap during the next disruption.
While you could debate the coherence of talking about sustainability and resiliency mixing within a supply chain, one thing is clear. That fact is that both concepts are vital to the success of businesses within an ecosystem. What’s more, having a strong carrier partnership seems to improve both outcomes simultaneously.
Some do not believe supply chain sustainability and resiliency are related. However, the fact remains that each of them are equally important to foster. Ensuring strong carrier network partnerships is one of the best steps you can take to do so.