Last updated on May 11th, 2022 at 09:36 am
Retail brands face many challenges across their supply chain, sustainability included. Historically, retail has been a bad actor when it comes to being environmentally conscious. (The apparel industry is the second-largest environmental polluter in the world.) But as consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of fashion—and as activist movements take hold—they are demanding change.
For many in retail, the trend toward more sustainable practices starts with packaging. Important efforts, but only part of the solution. Successful retail sustainability is a combination of sustainable packaging and shipping practices.
To achieve more sustainable shipping practices, you’ll want to leverage an omnichannel order management system (OMS). Below, we cover how an omnichannel OMS can support your sustainable shipping efforts.
Sustainable Shipping with an Omnichannel OMS
An order management system (OMS) is the single source of truth for all orders across channels. It makes it possible for retail brands to view product availability across enterprise-wide locations, including stores, warehouses, distribution centers (DC) and 3PLs. Modern order management systems built for omnichannel environments enable retailers to connect the dots between orders, customers, and inventory––getting product to shoppers quickly and more efficiently.
Achieving sustainable shipping is two-fold. First is smart order routing, which aligns supply and demand to use fewer resources and cut waste. Second is the store network, which you can leverage as a fulfillment channel to reduce your carbon footprint. In combination, these two practices can help you get to sustainable shipping.
Smart Order Routing
Smart order routing is the process by which a location (store, warehouse or DC) is chosen to fulfill an order being shipped. There are many factors to consider when choosing a location to route to, including speed of fulfillment, cost of shipping, stock levels, resource capacity, proximity to the shipping destination, and more.
Smart order routing promotes sustainable shipping by allowing you to do the following:
- Avoid split shipments. With rules-based configuration and item-level ordering, you can fulfill a whole order from a single location. As a result, you use fewer packaging materials and save on transportation. The same is true of consolidated packaging. Packaging accounts for almost half of all plastic waste. If multiple items or orders are consolidated into a larger shipment, you can drive operational and environmental efficiency.
- Avoid product markdowns. An omnichannel OMS with smart order routing enables you to route from a store that is about to mark down a product. This ensures the margin is not lost and just as importantly, it allows you to do away with unproductive inventory that typically ends up in a landfill if not sold––at full price or discounted.
- Avoid convoluted shipping journeys. Why ship across the country when you can fulfill locally? To reduce the planes, trains, and automobiles needed to get an item from point A to point B, you can ship from the fulfillment location that is closest to where the “ship to” address falls – even if that’s a local store and not a warehouse or distribution center.
The store is back in the spotlight for many reasons, including it being a mini fulfillment center. One way to be more green is to offer buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS). Herein is one way to leverage sustainability practices related to both packaging and fulfillment.
Cosmetics retailer Lush is a great example––it sells “naked” products to address the problem of waste, and where it can’t, it uses recyclable, reusable, and compostable materials. Lush shoppers can order online and pick-up in-store, walking away with a product they feel good about.
If you do need to ship, whether from a store or another location, you can leverage the location closest to the end destination to limit the number of miles the product has to travel.
Additionally, by leveraging the stores in your network for fulfillment, you reduce the need for multiple warehouses. Building warehouses is expensive and requires a lot of carbon-emitting resources, such as fuel. You don’t need to have strategically placed warehouses when you have a distributed fleet of physical retail locations.
A Green Future
To date, many retail brands have committed to making environmentally-conscious decisions at each step in their retail chain, including having more sustainable shipping practices. If you’re next, consider the role your order management system plays in optimizing fulfillment and driving sustainability. Your customers likely expect it and the environment will surely appreciate it.
Check out NewStore’s cloud-based order management solution.