Modern Retail

Top Tips for Sustainable Fulfilment

Sustainable Fulfilment

This post first featured in the Modern Retail Guide to Fulfilment November 2019. To read the full ebook click here, or scroll to the end of the page to view on page-turning software.

Sustainability is an issue which is impacting retailers more than ever before, with increasingly aware customers becoming more conscious of their impact on the environment. But how can retailers tackle sustainability in the supply chain?

While customers may focus predominantly on the sustainability of products’ packaging, there are numerous touch points before products are seen by customers, all of which also play a part in products’ environmental impact. The supply chain is being placed under increasing scrutiny, meaning retailers are being asked to explain the entire journey of products to customers.

Here are some of the ways you can work to create a more sustainable fulfilment process:

Sustainable packaging

One of the major areas retailers can become more environmentally friendly is through packaging choices. In the dream scenario, packaging would not be used, however, in order to protect and prolong the life of products, in most cases, packaging is a necessity.

With countless options for recyclable and biodegradable packaging, protecting products throughout shipping does not have to use single-use plastic.

Points to consider:

  • Which sustainable packaging options will be able to protect stock effectively?
  • Will this increase the cost of packaging?
  • How can you educate your customers to recycle packaging?

More effective loading

To reduce the amount of pollution created by vehicles in shipping, loads can be organised more effectively to help make delivery more sustainable. To do this, shipping and logistics companies can maximise load potential, by weight and volume to reduce the number of journeys required.

Points to consider:

  • Does the manufacturer make pallet loads of different sizes?
  • Could you be packing items more efficiently into vehicles and warehouses?
  • Could a reduction in packaging or weight of pallets reduce transportation emissions?

Communicate with your suppliers

Get in contact with your suppliers and challenge them on their sustainability efforts. Question their choices of materials and processes, and pass on any feedback or requests from your customers.

Suppliers compete to keep your business, and realistically, if they’re not looking to source affordable sustainable packaging options or more eco-friendly fulfilment solutions, their competitors may be.

Having an open and transparent relationship with your suppliers will help to weigh up the pros and cons of more sustainable alternatives from their perspective, as well as your own. Often, suppliers will have the ability to implement more sustainable processes, however, unless the retailer makes them aware of their desire to do this, there will be no action.

Communicate everything in regards to handling, fulfilment and storage, working to understand the best processes for suppliers to follow, which will also benefit your operations and sustainability.

Read the full Modern Retail Guide to Fulfilment November 2019 below.

Holly Worthington

Holly Worthington

Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail's Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today's ever-changing market.