After just over a year, it’s time to revisit Transparent Tuesday, a blog series created in 2013 which revolves around all things transparency and its lasting impact on the supply chain. During the past couple of years this topic has emerged as a main focus for a company’s supply chain operations. Pressure from governments and consumers has forced companies to consider their operations and evaluate their level of transparency. More than ever, companies are working together to create transparency in their specific industries; as can be seen in the 12-company strong campaign to fight against deforestation in the global cocoa supply chain.
However, now is the time for supply chain managers to get creative! By developing new solutions to achieve and show transparency in its supply chain, a company can create a more trustworthy service for consumers, while analyzing the treatment of employees. Transparency is now considered vital to operations due to increasing ethical awareness. Studies in the food industry in particular have concluded that customers are more likely to buy a product if they know where it came from and how it was made.
Here are some examples highlighting innovative ways to create transparency in the supply chain:
The use of current and emerging technologies is an imaginative way to portray transparent operations to consumers. Through the engagement of virtual reality, companies are able to show consumers their operations in an exciting way, which stimulates understanding and awareness. Last year, for example, McDonald’s UK launched a virtual reality experience which provided consumers with a behind-the-scenes look at its supply chain processes. It portrayed 3 key stages of the supply chain: farming, production and cooking. The experience allowed consumers to partake in farming practices such as harvesting potatoes, and even gave the option of grilling burgers, something we’ve all thought about trying. Take a look at the immersive experience here:
This kind of creativeness helps to encourage customer confidence through a ‘direct’ experience. It instills trust in its operations by opening up production processes to be viewed by outsiders, and creates excitement around the topic of transparency. In this instance, McDonald’s not only succeeded in educating consumers on its production, but also in stimulating growth for British produce and the awareness of jobs in the UK farming sector.
Supply chain managers could take a page out DJ Jazzy Jeff’s book, you know, the guy who played Will Smith’s best friend in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He recently livestreamed his entire album making process, everything from late night meetings to the writing and production stages. This meant viewers could see every thought behind a song and the mistakes that led to the finalized product. It allowed for a higher understanding and created a connection that is not obtained from direct selling. Opening up like this allows the consumer to appreciate the effort given to create an album, especially as this particular project had a time frame of only 7 days.
Of course this is a challenging idea to apply to a company’s supply chain, but it is a creative one that provides customers with full transparency. I can also imagine it not being as exciting as DJ Jazzy Jeff’s livestream. Nevertheless, it is something which could be applied in moderation. It is an advanced way to spark interest from customers by showing them exactly how a certain product is made. Through the method of livestreaming, customers are more likely to appreciate the production process as they are seeing it in real time. For supply chain managers, it helps evaluate operations in a timely manner and provides insights into potential failures that were previously unknown.
Patagonia is an example of a company that has an innovative tool which comes close to this livestreaming example. In 2012 it introduced its first version of its Footprint Chronicles, a tool which allows customers to access an interactive map containing up-to-date information of its factories all over the world. More recently it has introduced videos to the tool, showing each step of its supply chain in detail, and admitting to practices which need improvement.
‘How much does this t-shirt actually cost to make?’ I bet this is something you’ve asked yourself time and time again. Pricing transparency has been a relatively unaddressed topic for companies within their supply chains, until now. New online clothing companies such as Everlane, are starting the trend of transparent pricing on their sites, displaying in-depth information of where a product was made and exactly how much it cost to make. In the example of Everlane, it gives the consumer a ‘true cost’ of each individual clothing item, including prices for materials, hardware, labor, duties and transport, as can be seen here:
This is a creative way of showing customers exactly what they are paying for a product, particularly its brand value. It is certainly interesting to see such an honest description of a piece of clothing, something we are just not used to. The company hopes to gain more customers through its honesty, and shine a light on the real cost of clothing. By comparing the retail price from Everlane to a traditional retailer, consumers receive a deeper insight into how companies view their worth and set their prices. This is an innovative way for companies to show how much they care about their operations and the impact on society.
Creative and innovative solutions could definitely be the next step for companies to increase their transparency. McDonalds, Patagonia and Everlane are just 3 examples of a number of companies introducing new ways to highlight this and rightly serve not only their consumers’ needs but also their employees. By taking a creative spin, it allows more time to explore the supply chain and helps to raise more awareness of what a company is doing to tackle problems.
Can you think of any innovative ways to create or show transparency in operations?
Header Photo: maradon 333/shutterstock.com