04 Apr 2023
by Dr. Huda Alfardus`

How Digital Trade Improves Supply Chain Methods | #techUKDigitalTrade

Where large businesses once ruled, digital trade has now created unequivocal opportunities for SMEs that previously had little to no access to the global market. However, with its rapid growth there have been concerns around sustainability practices and policies as businesses are accelerating their activities within the digital trading system, including the transportation of goods, logistics, and transactions; #techUKDigitalTrade

As products and services move through the supply chain, digital transformation has the potential to replace traditional methods with more sustainable alternatives. This will have significant impact to upgrade digital trade and sustainability policies, improve supply chain transparency, and will foster supply chain optimization methods to reduce carbon footprint.

The competitive landscape between businesses promotes change in the value chain systems as companies search for ways to distinguish themselves among customers and implement sustainable practices. Alongside the push for change in the conscious consumerism landscape, governments also move to develop digital trade policies focused on digital data flows, e-commerce, and intellectual property between them and their trading countries promoting digital trade relationships. So as the foundation is being set to move deeper into the realm of digital trade, what more can be done to improve supply chain methods and keep up with the demand for sustainable change?

Companies have the opportunity to review their internal policies and methods of transporting goods and services across borders. Each phase of the supply chain will be drastically enhanced when sustainable adoptions occur using digital tools. Firstly, supply chain transportation can use route planning tools and softwares to help reduce carbon emissions, while meteorological tools can assist in forecasting potential weather disasters that will delay deliveries or cause product damage. Future considerations can also be made towards energy efficient modes of transportation as vehicle developments move towards becoming emission-free. Secondly, reconsidering unnecessary, non-biodegradable packaging materials and setting up systems that favor combined shipping can both reduce waste and refine the delivery process. Less  packaging materials means more streamlined packaging practices and cost efficiency. Another gap that tends to be overlooked is the company culture and standards towards positive sustainability changes. When employees and workers are not well-informed about sustainability practices, they cannot be a part of the change. Well trained employees are engaged and motivated to incorporate sustainable practices into the workplace, increase performance metrics, and give way for their practices to permeate into other business entities. Finally, with the power of the internet, brick and mortar establishments have been moving towards digitization and reducing needs for storage spaces where products can be sent directly from the supplier to the consumer. This also means less involved paperwork, easier data sharing, and improved consumer-business relationship. Digitized receipts, consumer insights, and company transparency with accessible company terms and conditions, mission, and values cultivates trust in the digital trade space.

Conclusively, when digital trade is used for the benefit of sustainability in supply chains, it produces a domino effect of positive impacts on the environment, consumers, and companies. A supply chain can use various digital tools and reduce waste to streamline delivery methods, become proactive in their company sustainability values by training employees and workers, and become more transparent in their digital trading policies. This will lead to lower costs for consumers, allow companies to meet CSR efforts, and potentially create competitive advantages in sustainability efforts with the growing number of conscious consumers.          

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Dr. Huda Alfardus`

Dr. Huda Alfardus`

CEO, HealthGena