After the 2016 factory collapse in Bangladesh there has been increasing scrutiny on brands. A study by the research organization Nielsen showed that ever more brands are being judged on their social and environmental responsibility. The global study found:
More than half of global respondents (52%) say they have purchased at least one product or service in the past six months from a socially responsible company
In her Retail Touchpoints article Lori Mitchell-Keller notes
Not only do people want to know where the materials are sourced from, but whether the labor [and environmental] practices are ethical
Many retailers have been turning their attention to creating a more responsible brand. Particular focus has been on:
- Caring about where raw materials come from, always ensuring they are sustainably and ethically sourced
- Caring about the people who make their products
- Minimizing environmental impact across the supply chain
As a company focused on providing tools which safeguard both people and place, we have begun to put focused effort on helping brands ensure an ethical supply chain. In this article we will discuss 4 ways we are helping fast fashion brands.
How Technology is Helping Ethical Fast Fashion
Four key elements make up the supply chain source story:
- Where are raw material and production sources?
- Ensuring and maintaining ethical social and environmental standards
- How to provide easy ways to report on the location and details of problems
- Sharing your ethical supply chain story
Much of the focus of the supply chain is on the ‘where’. Geospatial technology provides tools centred on the where. We have been building map-centric geospatial applications which provide easy ways for fast fashion brands to help ensure an ethical supply chain, and easily share that story. In particular we have in place 4 focused solutions:
a) Mapping the source – Where are your raw material and production sources? A combination of mobile and geospatial technology provides an easy way to collect and store data on a retailers supply chain at its source. Brands need to know where their factories and suppliers are located. That means building and maintaining a data on the where and what. Map-based apps are the perfect way to help with data collection, viewing and analysing this source information.
b) Maintaining ethical social and environmental standards – How can you identify problems in your supply chain: bad working practices, poor conditions and environmental damage? Inspections and audits should be conducted at regular intervals. New map-based mobile apps can greatly help with conducting inspections and taking action based on the results:
c) Providing easy ways to report problems – Crowd-sourcing provides a new way to help brands monitor problems in their supply chain. It can also help non-profit organizations ways discover and highlight problems. Simple mobile, map-based apps allow users to tweet or text problems they see, with supporting photos, and have that information mapped and shared.
d) Sharing your story – Story maps provide a new and compelling way to share your story. That might be telling consumers about your ethical approach to your supply chain. That might also be publicizing issues to raise broader awareness.
There are exciting new ways to help fast fashion brands move beyond past supply chain challenges. New technology can help not only monitor and track problems but share sustainable story. Contact us for more information.