Retailers and suppliers urged to collaborate on sustainability

Collaborate on key objectives: new report

Retailers and suppliers need to collaborate on sustainability, building a smart supply chain, engaging with technology-enabled consumers and providing healthier product choices.

Those are the four objectives identified in a new report published today by The Consumer Goods Forum, produced in conjunction with Capgemini, HP and Microsoft, released to Retail Times.

The 2020 Future Value Chain: Building Strategies for the New Decade study is an exploration by executives from the retail and consumer goods industry on how collaboration can bring benefits to consumers.

The Future Value Chain initiative brought together 200 executives from the world’s leading retailers, manufacturers, academics, third-party providers and industry organisations to define the strategic objectives on which the industry should focus its energies.

Top of the list is making businesses more sustainable. According to the report, the world’s population will reach 8.3bn in 20 years and this growth will put more pressure on natural resources affecting the cost and availability of ingredients.

The industry needs to collaborate to address sustainability in future business practices in a trustworthy manner, particularly as sustainability becomes an increasingly important aspect in consumers’ buying decisions, it says.

The report calls for an optimal shared supply chain. Key trends such as increasing urbanisation, consumer awareness about sustainability and the increased adoption of consumer and business technologies will require new and collaborative distribution models and optimised ‘smart’ supply chains where information as well as assets are shared, says the study.

Engaging with technology-enabled consumers is key too. One of the specific challenges highlighted by the report is sustaining a dialogue with consumers through their preferred channels and technologies.

Consumer buying behavior has been impacted by the use of the variety of technologies in people’s lives, accessible at any time, from any location, leaving consumers more informed about products and services, it says. Companies need to drive greater value by engaging with consumers and maintaining a two-way dialogue to improve responsiveness to their changing needs.

Delivering health and wellbeing is the fourth objective. The overall increased importance placed on health and wellbeing will bring strong pressure on the industry to find new ways to inform and engage consumers, governments and other stakeholders, says the study. Achieving this objective requires full industry collaboration and a focus on issues such as product safety and providing healthier choices, with an emphasis on quality of life.

“The trends highlighted in the report underline the need for even more collaboration among all parties in the value chain as we move through these challenging times,” said Nigel Bagley, director for industry affairs, Unilever, and co-chairman of 2020 Future Value Chain.

“We should treat this as an opportunity to urgently act through putting in practice new plans and strategies that better suit the changing needs of our consumers.”

Gerd Wolfram, managing director, Metro Systems and co-chairman of 2020 Future Value Chain, added: “Consumer demands have already increasingly changed in the last few years through the use of new technologies. It is time now to sit down with our industry partners and talk about how, by working together, our industry can better serve the 2020 consumer. We are very excited about what the future holds.”