eCommerce Transparency driving Integrity, Loyalty and Sustainability
One of the critical challenges in today’s eCommerce market is transparency. Throughout the supply chain – from manufacturer to distributor to retailer to end consumer – the connections between each party are increasingly remote. At a time when ingredients, manufacturers and end consumers may each be in a different continent, maintaining control and visibility throughout the entire network is more important now than ever before.
Regardless of the motivation, transparency across the entire eCommerce supply chain has become a key component of corporate integrity, loyalty and sustainability. By investing in a transparent product lifecycle, businesses can improve their strategies in response to market forces, adapt to new regulatory or environmental conditions, optimize pricing and fulfillment in real-time, and inspire confidence in consumers.
There is growing market pressure in favor of transparency. Businesses that convey honesty and openness attract more customers, distributors and retailers favor brands with great reputations, and manufacturers want to establish stable and ethical supply chains. But in eCommerce, visibility throughout the B2B2C network is not just about market desirability, it’s about controlling the lifecycle of a product from manufacture to end consumer and every step in between.
A truly transparent eCommerce supply chain allows each firm to know and trust their partners, reducing business risk and holding the entire network accountable to corporate responsibility. In addition, being open and honest about operations and partnerships conveys integrity to the end consumers and to any potential future business partners. In this way, transparency both encourages and conveys brand integrity.
In eCommerce, conveying brand integrity pays dividends. In the age of customer reviews and social media, brand sentiment enormous power over purchase decisions – and one story about unethical practices by one firm in a supply chain can have irreparable consequences for the entire network. Shopping online is less “personal”, and in response to this consumers are putting more effort into “getting to know” brands. In lieu of face-to-face interactions, consumers are instead gravitating toward businesses that share their personal values.
Finally, transparency is of key strategic importance to a firm’s economic sustainability. Supply chain transparency allows companies to receive early warning signs from throughout their network. For instance, when a supplier’s stock can be monitored by a retailer, that retailer can prepare for potential stock issues during high-traffic periods or promotions and can seek alternative suppliers if necessary. At the other end of the chain, manufacturers and distributors that can monitor the end consumer pricing of their products will be made aware of any downward pressure on price which may impact their profitability or the value proposition for their retail partners, allowing them to strategize in response to real-time market forces.