The convenience of finding the best price online has many people wondering about the real or hidden costs involved, and it’s driving them to desire more information from companies. To meet that growing need, companies share more product details, including “making of” stories or sustainability supply chain explanations. Cloud computing is helping some businesses turn sustainability efforts into customer engagement that brings business value.
Outdoor clothing and gear maker Patagonia is on a mission to build the best product without doing unnecessary harm to the planet. Their Footprint Chronicles storytelling platform provides a look inside the company’s supply chain and efforts to eliminate real or potential harm. The company is even developing an app that allows workers in its supplier factories to capture real-time video and images of work conditions, both positive and negative, and upload those first-hand visuals to the cloud so the public can see.
Building a Program for Sharing Transparency
In the same way that Patagonia makes sustainability part of its mission and product persona, other companies are carrying out similar campaigns. Some turn to EcoVadis, which gives companies and suppliers a corporate social responsibility (CSR) analysis scorecard. EcoVadis focuses on environment, fair labor and human rights, and ethics and sustainable procurement, using a standard methodology agreed upon by the UN.
Most companies want to do good in the world, but the sheer task of it is daunting, according to Lucas Lopez, Product Marketing Manager at EcoVadis.
Lopez said running a sustainable procurement program can be difficult for companies. Efforts to be more transparent can get expensive.
“Understanding the regional differences for suppliers, organizing it and then having a system to manage it all is near impossible for most companies to handle in-house,” he said.
“The companies we work with see the value in doing good, but then reality quickly sets in. For example, customers start asking you to prove your claims, or to verify the assessment of the supplier to make sure it’s up-to-date and accurate. It all becomes time-consuming and costly, fast.“
“Brand risk is and always will be a primary driver of these types of initiatives, but increasingly business value and innovation are the key selling points,” he said.
“We’ve all heard the terrible stories affecting brand value overnight and it will forever be a major driver for sustainable procurement,” said Lopez. “Brand risk is just part of the story; sustainability is now being correlated with innovation as a critical lever driving business value.”