Sustainability in the Supply Chain
Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword; the retail industry has a significant responsibility to help positively impact the environment. Many retailers are striving to become greener by switching packaging or source materials for their products. But the difficulties of providing a truly sustainable supply chain are paramount and fragmented. For sellers who wish to have a truly circular shopping model, obstacles abound: the cost to be verified as Fair Trade is exorbitant and there is little support for a seamless, truly environmentally-friendly customer journey.
From the consumers’ perspective, it’s frustrating to find truly environmentally-friendly brands; until recently, there has been no aggregate of sustainable products on one marketplace and, because of the high fees associated with certifying a brand as green, conscious consumers may fear that certain products are counterfeit. Thankfully, there are more and more industry innovators committing to sustainable ethos.
For example, Project Verte’s cloud-based platform, powered by AI, helps retailers make more informed decisions that, in turn, create more sustainable business practices. As Joshua Christine, Project Verte’s Senior Partner Development Manager says, “What has improved the most over the last decade has been our understanding of how each stage of the supply chain impacts the ecosystem, enabling deeper data analysis and empowering more effective solutions.”
By measuring the probability of need, demand, and consumption, AI can help reduce waste by preventing products from expiring; retailers can also avoid holding onto products that become redundant due to seasonal trends. Having access to this data also decreases the likelihood that retailers will purchase stock that goes to waste, and limits the number of journeys involved in moving and storing items – all of which would pose direct harm to business, and the environment.
Additionally, Julie Wainwright, founder of The RealReal, a marketplace for authenticated luxury retail consignment, adds that, “The most immediate impact brands can have today is to avoid landfills by better inventory planning to avoid over production (pre-Covid nearly 40% of items produced end in a markdown or landfill). And for those items being sold, incentivize a resale solution in lieu of discarding them.”
Of course, fulfillment services are a vital part of the supply chain. Fortunately for Project Verte’s partners, our facility was built with ecologically-friendly needs in mind. Our automated warehouse, with upward storage, requires less physical space, but has the same capacity as a conventional warehouse twice its size. This AI automation also minimizes picking errors, resulting in lower emissions and less fossil fuel consumption, while our WMS platform and automated cranes optimize workflow to decrease energy use. We invested in solutions that keep the customer journey as the sole focus; our network of warehouses and our Atlanta-based micro fulfillment center allow us to be closer to the customer and decrease our carbon footprint by localizing pick up and delivery.
Even our pallet-handling has waste reduction in mind; controlled handling means minimal damage to products and pallets do not require as much shrink wrap as those handled manually. From a packaging standpoint, The VerteZero product database accurately calculates box size to reduce parcel material.
Aside from partnering with green technology solutions like Project Verte, more nascent brands can start small with their dedication to sustainable practices. David Friedrichs, founder of Cerqular, a new multi-seller marketplace for sustainable brands, says to “Take incremental steps. Build a business plan so you can phase out certain parts of products. If you’re a shoe company, for example, focus on the inner sole, then the laces, etc.” Friedrichs also recommends finding “end of the life solutions,” to upcycle or recycle your products.
As the boom in ecommerce and more sustainable practices have influenced the retail space, Project Verte has internally been making strides to better impact the environment. We are committed to being an industry leader in this sector through the way in which we carry out our operations, in the services we offer, and by offering our client base a complete line of eco-freight packaging. We are committed to obtaining key Green/Sustainable certifications, partnering with like-minded companies, and fostering an internal culture with sustainability at its core. Project Verte’s Green Team members have executive sponsorship and broad organizational participation. Members include: Stephen Bullard (Operations), Joshua Christine (Seller Success), Joseph Reseland (Seller Success), Bill Adams (Maintenance), Saranya Senguttuvan (Marketing), Snehal Pophale (Analyst), and Monica McFry (Operations).
The need to go greener has only become more significant. But thankfully, more and more retailers are pledging to abide by sustainable models. Companies like Project Verte are disrupting the supply chain industry to provide a better, more eco-efficient tomorrow.