All businesses want to serve their customers well. Visibility and coordination of an end-to-end supply chain are essential to fulfilling the customers’ demands. A strong and resilient supply chain strategy must be in place to evolve and adapt to changing trends and disruption. Micro and macro trends are completely reshaping the way we approach supply chains. As the rate of inflation is skyrocketing, we are seeing a shift in the market from demand to supply. Retail companies are now obligated to build a more sustainable supply chain to optimise costs, and social equality, and reduce their environmental impact.



Retailers must consider the governmental changes in wage rates, overtime and health & safety. Political changes and calls for higher wages have meant that skilled talent has been more difficult to retain. Automation of the retail supply chain is key to optimising the supply chain process to improve efficiency and delivery to the customer. Consumers are also placing more importance on the ethos and ethics of the company they buy from including improved and transparent labour conditions and higher pay for retail employees. A robust supply chain that meets these demands will exceed expectations and develop trust and loyalty from the customer.



Alongside ethical expectations, consumers are demanding easier accessibility to products via different online and in-store channels, acceleration of delivery and multi-pay options. The pandemic’s ongoing effects on the global economy is a greater reason for building supply chain resilience and adaptability in consumer and retail. It emphasised how essential e-commerce is to sales. Many companies have also reconsidered sourcing to closer locations. Having flexibility with sourcing providers will allow a retailer to respond to market demands and reduce the amount of buffer inventory required. Waste is generated at all stages of the supply chain from raw material sourcing to the end customer. By building a circular economy, we can shift from a wasteful linear system to a more regenerative economy that will reduce costs in the supply chain and help mitigate climate change.



A retail supply chain must be transparent and visible to ensure that its impact on the environment is accounted for at each stage, to allow a realistic carbon reduction plan. It is important to collaborate with eco-friendly suppliers to ensure that the end product meets the desired requirements of environmental sustainability. Heating and lighting is associated with a great deal of energy waste in retail. Converting to more renewable sources of energy such as LED lighting would have a  substantial impact on the environment. Today’s consumerist society calls for sustainable packaging using biodegradable or recyclable materials instead of polymers. The use of ICE vehicles is being forced out of the system with electric vehicles expected to dominate in the coming years. Therefore, large companies are making a shift to EV fleets. With this change, there will need to be a system of EV fleet management from hardware, planning and smart software.

Environmental, social, and economic sustainability is expected to be a priority for the retail supply chain in 2023. We will see more automation of the supply chain through robotics and AI. A circular supply chain is expected to replace the original linear system to cut costs and reduce environmental impact. Rising concerns about the impact of business on society from governmental departments and consumers mean that retail companies will need to provide full transparency of the end-to-end supply chain process.

Understanding your drivers of cost and efficiency across the retail value chain is critical to delivering truly sustainable value. To find out more about how 4C’s experience can help you, please contact Andrew Davidson, Head of Retail at 4C Associates