Holiday omnichannel trends and the future of supply chain sustainability

Almost 190 million Americans went shopping between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation, with a record 66 million shopping only online, 48 million shopping only in stores and 76 million shopping across both channels. Cyber Monday became the largest-ever US online shopping day, with $9.4 billion in sales, according to Adobe Analytics. And these shoppers expect faster delivery of items at lower costs in more channels than in the past.

According to recent business, financial and supply chain industry reports, more and more shoppers – during the intense holiday period and throughout the year – are making buying decisions based on environmental and social factors, citing “ethical” and “sustainable” attributes as critical. This means that the importance of supply chains will likely become more visible to consumers.

Constructive ways to minimize the environmental footprint of increased shipping, delivery models with smaller carbon footprints, omnichannel retailing offering a variety of shopping and delivery options, development of ways to reduce or avoid returns and strategies for reuse and recycling, companies’ sustainability and labor practices, transparent supply chains – the reporting indicates that issues like these are becoming increasingly important.

Supply Chain transparency is being explored by the MIT Sustainable Supply Chains initiative, launched in 2018 by the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL) to bring together sustainability research, education and outreach.

The MIT CTL and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) are collaborating on the annual State of Sustainable Supply Chains Report that will answer these questions: What defines a sustainable supply chain? What resources are companies devoting to sustainability in their supply chains, and are they under pressure to disclose and achieve their goals? How will supply chain sustainability evolve over the next few years?

The report will also help companies gain a better understanding of the importance of supply chain sustainability to their enterprises, industries, and the planet. Data collection for the report began in October 2019 with a survey aimed at supply chain professionals across industries, regions and positions.

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