Transparency: Key to Sustainability in your Supply Chain

A recent article in Supply Chain Management Review ( has the team at Westset Logistics thinking a lot about the increasing importance of transparency in our role as the fulfillment link in the business-to-consumer supply chain network. From the article, by Prof. Diane A. Mollenkopf:

…supply chain transparency is of strategic importance to companies seeking to ensure their own economic sustainability — and that of their supply chains — in an environment where customers increasingly ask for information about the behavior of the companies with whom they trade, as well as the environmental and social impacts of the products and services they buy.

As we build and operate our businesses in the expanding information age, it becomes increasingly important that, in addition to economic appraisal, we consider the environmental and social sustainability of our business partnerships, both up and down-stream in the supply chain. Calls for more complete awareness of our impact come from customers, partners and industry regulators, who demand a greater dedication to global citizenship from the businesses they choose to trust. When Apple, for instance, discovers that one of its Chinese suppliers is accused of human rights violations toward its workforce, the comprehensiveness of Apple’s response, including the accuracy of its reporting and the thoroughness of its supplier vetting process, has a huge bearing on public perception of the brand’s integrity.  A reputation for transparency goes a long way toward protecting your own brand’s integrity, with the added bonus of helping foster sustainable practices throughout your supply chain network.  To optimize your sustainability efforts, then, it’s essential to push for a level of transparency from your corporate partners as high as what you expect within your own organization.

So what should you expect from your third party logistics (3PL) partner when it comes to transparency? As the warehouse of your inventory, the manager of your product fulfillment and arbiter of product returns, your 3PL occupies the space just downstream of your business, between you and the customer/end-user. As such, a 3PL firm like Westset Logistics handles the all-important fulfillment phase of the promise you make to your customer base. We complete the physical transaction with the consumer, and the speed, accuracy and real-time accountability with which we accomplish the final hand-off directly reflects the integrity of our upstream partners.

As a family-owned and operated firm, it’s tough to over-stress how personally the team at Westset take this responsibility. If you choose to partner with a 3PL, you should expect hyper-organized product warehousing, a proprietary central database and operating system that optimizes inventory management and a digital tagging protocol that boosts turn-around efficiency. You should expect easily accessed fulfillment data that you can use to streamline your own ordering, sales and marketing operations. Your 3PL should hold a high standard for sustainable business practices, environmental impact awareness and socially responsible employment practices. Your 3PL should accurately report its sustainability efforts and should be cognizant of the reputations of its own suppliers. Mutual trust based on transparency is the foundation of the supply chain.

At Westset, logistics and fulfillment have been our single, abiding focus. All of our warehousing procedures, from stocking and picking to shipping and receiving, have been streamlined and digitize for greater efficiency, speed and accuracy. We know that and order improperly filled or delivered is a spiral of time and money lost for our upstream partners and we’ve honed the interface between our digital logistics management and our physical fulfillment to virtually eliminate error.  In addition, thanks to our seamless partnership with our sister company, Total Transportation, we control our own shipping and delivery operation. Total’s Transportation Management System OS makes it easy for us to track orders for your customers in real time, maintaining an unparalleled standard across our own portion of the supply chain.  And the wealth of logistics data we accumulate, store and manage on the fulfillment end allows you to make informed decisions about ordering, product development and marketing. In the transparency game, we’re confident that our standards for sustainable practice and accurate reporting extend from the logistics arena all the way through fulfillment to the end-user.