From production to POS: Protecting the integrity of your supply chainBY Australian Retailers Association
Technology is helping many manufacturers document the production journey, allowing them to confidently assure their customers about their commitment to human rights, the environment, and ethical business practices.
Retailers are under increasing pressure to prove that they have an ethical, environmentally responsible supply chain, which has been driven in part by more stringent compliance requirements and a rise in conscious consumerism – with more shoppers demanding information about how a product has been made, right down to where the raw materials have been sourced. Often, a customer’s first purchase or continued brand loyalty hinges on a retailer’s responses to these questions.
Technology is helping many manufacturers document the production journey, allowing a brand and you as the retailer that sells the brand to confidently assure customers about your commitment to human rights, environmental impact and ethical business practices across your supply chain.
While manufacturing processes have become more complex, retailers can easily gain full visibility across their supply chain networks with the right tools. For example, rather than relying on paper-based manual processes and spreadsheets that are prone to errors, technology can be used to automate each step, increasing the accuracy of your information and the speed at which you can access it for an audit.
At the click of a button, you can pinpoint where each component came from, its Quality Assurance (QA) test results, where it was stored, and which of your outlets sell the product. Barcodes and sensors help track raw materials throughout the entire production journey, from origin to production and sale. Many critical details, including lot numbers, use-by dates and receipt dates, can also be maintained.
Barcodes and sensors can be vital in the manufacturing and warehousing processes. For instance, you can work with a manufacturer to nominate specific tests for components used in the products you retail, set different thresholds, and assign expected results. This allows the manufacturer to classify batches of each component for use in different products, based on their test results.
If you do have a product safety scare, you can then quickly access granular information about which batch may have been affected, where they were dispatched, and sold. This speeds up the warning, recall and rectification process if required.
An important part of being ethical is rapidly communicating when something’s gone wrong. For instance, if a food producer has a contamination scare, or a children’s toy retailer experiences a product safety issue. The faster you act, the quicker you can restore consumer confidence and trust in your brand – and most importantly, act to minimise any public health risk.
The ability to access detailed information quickly also helps reduce the cost of a recall, by identifying specific batches that may have been contaminated. This same information can also be used to defend the country of origin enquiries and confirm that you’ve complied with product labelling and packaging laws.
Greater than the sum of its parts
Leveraging insights from these technologies, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software with robust inventory capabilities can deliver further intelligence, giving retailers the information they need to answer production questions with certainty.
Live tracking of stock movements lets you know at a glance where every order is in real-time as well as the path it has taken. This helps you keep suppliers, partners and customers informed, ultimately improving the purchasing experience. Such precise visibility into the supply chain can also reveal areas where more eco-friendly steps can be made, helping you initiate and build new proof points for your brand’s higher purpose.
The reward for responsibility
Changing consumer expectations, increasing compliance regulations, and globalised supply chains have all combined to create a significant shift towards the needs for greater transparency.
By leveraging data shared by connected sensors and barcodes, all integrated with a powerful ERP solution- spanning inventory planning, forecasting, and relationship management – retailers can work with manufacturers to protect the ethical values you are committed to. Ultimately this becomes a key differentiator to help you win more sales and strengthen loyalty.
With customers becoming increasingly aware of their environmental impact and an increase in strict regulations to comply, more retailers are being challenged to prove their ethical and environmental responsibilities. In response to this, retailers can use technology to equip themselves with the tools needed to ensure they stay on top of their operations through the entire chain.
Pronto Software is an Australian developer of award-winning business management and analytics solutions. Pronto Xi, our ERP software, integrates accounting, operational and mobile features in a single system – optimising business processes and unlocking actionable insights. Over 1,700 organisations have leveraged our industry experience and innovation to increase growth and revenue. Contact us to learn how we can help you achieve business goals: pronto.net
 Conscious consumerism, Raconteur.net, March 2019
 Cargill’s path to transparency, traceability, and transformation, agriculture.com, September 2018
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Australian Retailers Association
Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.