Four Ways to Make Your Supply Chain More Transparent


Consumers want to know how companies are making their products. A recent study on corporate transparency shows that 9 out of 10 consumers will stop purchasing from brands that lack transparency. Today, consumers have more choices than ever before, and they want to put their money behind companies that are willing to share information about the manufacturing process. Otherwise, consumers won’t have any idea if they’re supporting a company that shares their values, particularly their commitment to the environment. Learn more about supply chain transparency and how it can help your company make the right impression on consumers.

Why Invest in Supply Chain Transparency?

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about supply chain sustainability over the last few years. Companies large and small are doing their part to curb their effect on the environment and to preserve natural resources for future generations. This often includes reducing energy and water usage, investing in reusable storage materials, using recycled materials and creating a safe, sustainable work environment for employees. But these sustainability efforts won’t make that much of a difference unless consumers have access to this information.

Supply chain transparency means sharing information about how your products are made with the people to whom you’re selling your products. Even if your sustainability efforts are still a work-in-progress, you can show your consumers that you’re starting down the right path. This includes all kinds of hot-button issues like fair trade practices, paying your employees a decent wage and even offering some kind of continuing education program. Investing in these kinds of programs can help you win over consumers that share these beliefs.

A recent study shows how consumers attitudes toward businesses are changing:

  • 63 percent of Americans are hopeful businesses will drive social and environmental change
  • 78 percent want companies to address important social justice issues
  • 87 percent will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about and percent will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs

Keep these statistics in mind as you work towards making your supply chain more transparent.

How to Make Your Supply Chain More Transparent

1. Partnering with Transparent, Sustainable Suppliers

Your company is only as good as its suppliers. You can’t sell yourself as a leader in sustainability unless your suppliers are working towards the same goals. Having a transparent supply chain also means sharing information about your suppliers with the public, so make sure your suppliers share your commitment to these issues. You can work with your suppliers to learn more about how they source and deliver their products.

If one of your suppliers doesn’t exactly get a gold star when it comes to sustainability, you can either find a new supplier or work with them to correct these issues. Your suppliers should be willing to share information with you about their practices so that you can pass this information along to consumers.

2. Tracing Source Ingredients and Materials

Working in tandem with your suppliers, you should be able to trace every material or ingredient used in the making of your company’s products, including where and how these materials are harvested, the working conditions of the people that harvest these materials and the environmental impact of these materials.

If you’re in the food industry, you should take time to learn about the animals or fields responsible for these ingredients and whether your supplier is looking out for the environment. The same is true of your manufacturing materials. Find out if any of these materials are hazardous to the environment and whether they can be recycled or reused. This also includes the resources needed to move and protect these materials as they move through the supply chain. If you discover that some of these materials or ingredients are harmful to the environment, look for a more sustainable alternative.

3. Creating Open Lines of Communication

Transparency usually means shareability. You and your business partners should be ready to share information with each other and the public at large. If you have a question about your company’s source materials or ingredients, your suppliers should be ready to answer. Whether it’s using text messages, email or a digital supplier quality management system, you need to keep these lines of communication open instead of blindly signing on the dotted line when your supplier shows up with another order.

Investing in reliable communication also applies to your relationship with your consumers. Your company probably has at least one social media account or a contact page, and your customers expect you to respond if they have an inquiry about your business. In addition to sharing information about your supply chain on your website or via a press release, make sure you’re making time to answer any customer questions directly.

4. Storing and Sharing Data About Your Supply Chain

You can’t create a transparent supply chain unless you’re actively monitoring your operations and collecting data on how your products are made. Sharing information about your company with the public shouldn’t be a hassle. With the right business software, you can automatically collect data on your company and its products, so you can quickly pass this information along to anyone that’s interested, including the press, your shareholders and your customers.

This includes data about your workforce, how they’re treated and how much they’re paid, how much energy and water you use to create your products, how your products are made and how they move through the supply chain. Automate the data collection process to save time and send it off with just a few clicks.

Making your supply chain more transparent shows consumers that you have nothing to hide. Consumers deserve to know more about how these products are made so that they can make informed decisions when comparing different brands. Even if your company is still working towards some large goals, you can start sharing information about how your products are made to win the support of your consumers. Find suppliers that support your cause, trace your ingredients and materials, create open lines of communication, and collect as much data on your operations as possible.