3 challenges of green supply chain management

15 Jun 2022

If you’re not thinking about green supply chain management, then you’re behind the curve. Consumers and business leaders alike are all looking for greener solutions that consider longevity carefully. 

This Deloitte survey found UK consumers find the following five practices important when deciding on a purchase:

  1. Waste reduction
  2. Reducing carbon footprint
  3. Producing sustainable packaging
  4. Committing to ethical working
  5. Respect for human beings

In today’s post, we will be looking at the first three points in this list. These are tied to being more eco-friendly, a mission that any company can and should get behind. 

3 challenges of green supply chain management — and how to overcome them

More specifically, we’re going to be looking at the challenges of embracing these goals and how you can overcome them. It’s easy to say, ‘Go green!’ For a lot of businesses, though, implementing these policies can seem daunting. Here’s why (and what to do about it). 

Increased costs

Updating your supply chain to be green can be expensive. Whether you’re talking about the immediate costs of updating your workflows and supply chain or the cost of switching to green materials, you can expect your short-term costs to rise. 

Going green will also mean adopting new technology most of the time. That, of course, can add even more costs to your operation. For example, you may need to purchase more efficient warehouse equipment or switch to renewable energy. 

However you go about it, you’re undoubtedly going to be spending some extra green to go green.

How to overcome this challenge: Remember the long-term

Unfortunately, there isn’t an immediate panacea for this challenge. What is important to remember is that these upfront expenses will lead to long-term savings and returns. 

These savings and returns will come from two fronts. The first is the money you’ll save by using renewable energy and investing in future-proof supply chain methods. 

The second is from increased sales. You can readily market your new green efforts, which can go a long way toward attracting more buyers to your business. 

It’s also worth mentioning that, depending on your region, you may qualify for stipends or financial rewards from governing bodies for investing in green solutions. 

A complex supply chain model

This might not be a challenge for businesses with a tight product focus. But for those that offer multiple products or a wide variety of products, getting your supply chain ready to go green can be a real feat. 

That’s why this is second on our list of the key challenges of green supply chain management. Experienced businesses will know that it’s never as simple as swapping out one piece of your supply chain with a green option. 

Adjusting any aspect of your supply chain can cause ripples throughout your operation, and making several changes at once can jeopardise your business. 

How to overcome this challenge: Automate your inventory management 

Fortunately, we have the technology to make this transition simpler. That technology is automation. Tools and resources, like Workhorse’s inventory management system, provide the necessary support to mitigate the impact of changing your supply chain. 

Additionally, rolling out a staged plan to green-ify your supply chain is a much more reliable solution than trying to go all-in all at once. Many organisations take about a decade to go completely green, and the larger and more established your business is, the longer you can expect that transition to take. 

But having a slow plan in place is better than having no plan in place!

There’s a steep learning curve

It’s important to acknowledge that there’s a steep learning curve in adopting green practices throughout your supply chain and warehouse. It’s a time-consuming task that will require trial and error as you move forward. 

It’s no surprise you may find yourself daunted by the possibility of making these errors. After all, it can have lasting consequences for your business. 

Not to mention that you’ll also be adopting new systems and methodologies. As you and your workers adapt to these changes, you will make mistakes. But that’s okay! It’s just another part of the process. 

How to overcome this challenge: Choose partners that already have green experience

Fortunately, overcoming this challenge is pretty simple — just partner with experienced service providers and businesses. Whether you’re choosing a platform for managing your inventory or finding new supply chain providers, look for those experienced with going green or those who have already done so. 

This will make your job far more manageable because you won’t be doing the transition alone. And when you need it, you’ll have someone you can go to for help or advice.

Similarly, you can look at what your green competitors are doing. What can you learn from them, what can you do better, and how can you go green while standing apart?

3 quick tips for green supply chain management

Before closing this post, we wanted to provide you with three quick tips that you can follow to simplify green supply chain management. By keeping these in mind, you can reduce the impact greening your supply chain can have on your business. 

Don’t rush

There’s no need to rush going green. It’s entirely reasonable to unveil a years-long plan to embrace green practices. Not only is it reasonable, but there’s a good chance that it’ll improve your ability to succeed at going green. 

Have a clear plan

Having a step-by-step plan will help you and your business stay focused during this transition. 

Work with partners you can trust

And that brings us to our last point, which is to work with partners you can trust. As you go through the sensitive and tumultuous process of going green, you want to make sure that you have high-quality partners at your side. 

Embracing green supply chain management with Workhorse

If you’re looking for a great partner to help you on your journey, Workhorse would love to help! We provide configurable order and inventory management software that will support your current operations and help you excel as you move towards greener practices. Reach out today to learn more

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