Today’s international supply chains are complex and vast. The majority of retailers disclose relatively little information about their supply chains – such as where raw materials are sourced from, or social conditions in the places where goods are made.
But now, some retailers are aiming to improve the traceability of the goods they sell in a brand new way. Major companies are piloting and deploying disruptive technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and element analysis to better monitor and account for the supply chains that make up their industry.
This is an important consideration for investors who want more information to help them better assess the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risks and opportunities associated with investing in retail companies. Regulation, changing consumer attitudes and rising industry ambitions are also giving extra momentum to the push for greater transparency.
This is a complex task, with many stakeholders and moving parts. We believe technology has a role to play, but we also acknowledge that stakeholders in the retail supply chain have questions. For example:
- Have supplier list disclosures increased since 2020?
- How does the tier structure and technology work together?
- Are any regulations actually catalysing the use of these technologies?
- How are social risks addressed via technology integration?
- How widespread is technology adoption at present?
- Is there a threat to jobs with increased technology in the supply chain?
- Is there a connection between retail and smart farming?
- Is there a risk that these technologies are a tool for more greenwashing?
- Are technology-enabled supplier lists actually beneficial for sustainability progress?
- Are any other sectors using this technology in this way?
To find out more – and read our answers to these questions – click here for a free-to-view version of the report.