Green from the inside outBY Australian Retailers Association
Harnessing technology to drive sustainable business operations.
An increased focus on sustainability means that green is the new black for Australian business. A recent study found four out of five Australian companies want to meet common industry standards, and one quarter is altering their supply chains to be more environmentally responsible.
Over the past decade, the rise of the ‘conscious consumer’ has seen retailers move sustainable business practices to the top of the agenda. Around 71% of Australian consumers are now willing to pay a premium for environmentally sustainable products and services, meaning that having green policies in place can be the difference between a customer choosing you or a competitor.
Technology is often a strong driving force behind sustainable regimes, and the benefits don’t stop with having satisfied customers. Innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can provide retailers with the tools to streamline operations, and ultimately reduce their environmental footprint.
AI and automation
Retailers often invest in sustainability with the ‘conscious customer’ in mind, making it easy to overlook business operations at the back end. Take finance and procurement for example – something as simple as shifting from paper invoicing to e-invoicing can cut down carbon emissions by more than a third.
Imagine for a moment that leading supermarkets and retailers still operated with paper-only invoices. Would increase the risk of invoices getting lost or going unpaid, leading to a fractured supply chain and missing products on the shop floor – leading to a host of extremely unpleasant customer interactions.
E-invoicing systems like automated purchase-to-pay software, make use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This automation allows retailers to improve their suppliers’ cash flow while also improving their financials and reducing their impact on the environment.
For example, when employees spend fewer hours on tasks that are better automated, retailers can also achieve a reduced carbon footprint through reduced electricity or computing/IT costs. Staff can then spend their time upskilling or improving other key areas of the business such as customer experience and product offering.
Data analytics and the cloud
Cloud-based technology and data analytics can also have a significant impact on the sustainability of business operations.
At the macro level, using AWS, Azure, or other cloud platforms, allows retailers to significantly reduce the office real estate needed to house servers efficiently. By outsourcing to facilities that employ highly efficient systems, retailers can save on the massive amounts of energy needed to control the temperature in a company server room.
At a micro level, data analytics solutions can be used for everything from predicting trends and inefficiencies, to determining buying channels and analysing consumption patterns. By implementing the right data solutions, retailers can gain insight to ensure they are reducing their environmental footprint across all arms of the business.
Moving your business towards sustainable practices can be as simple as switching to paperless invoicing, or something with more components, like streamlining your IT or creating end-to-end visibility of your supply chain operations. Regardless of the size of the change, technology has made it easier for retailers than ever before, to create sustainable and impactful change for the better.
Basware offers the largest open business network in the world and is the global leader in providing networked purchase-to-pay solutions, e-invoicing, and innovative financing services. Its technology empowers organizations with 100% spend visibility by enabling the capture of all financial data across procurement, finance, accounts payable and accounts receivable functions. For more information about Basware visit basware.com
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.