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Operational excellence: paving the way for sustainable, transparent supply chains

Operational excellence creates positive change in all areas of the supply chain.
Operational excellence creates positive change in all areas of the supply chain.

With the world’s consumers, lawmakers, and employees demanding more ethical, sustainable, and transparent practices, businesses have to seriously improve the way they source, make, and distribute products.

How do they do this? With operational excellence: a philosophy that goes beyond mere practice to instill a mindset of continuous improvement.

This method creates positive change in all areas of the supply chain. A data-driven approach, it takes into account market movements, customer behavior, and the overall logistical landscape. The objective? Creating ever more efficient flows of items from the point of manufacture to the hands of the buyer.

The catalyst for both performance and meaning

It’s not all about hitting company targets, though. Operational excellence is a strong driver of meaning and purpose throughout organizations.

McKinsey partner Joris Wijpkem defines it as:

“A consistent way of working.. really activating the entire organization to continuously get better every day at achieving that organization’s purpose. So it’s really a set of culture, behaviors, mindsets, and daily practices that is intimately tied to the organization’s reason for being.”

Traceability data is the lifeblood of these principles. Being able to see what’s going on in granular detail enables better waste reduction, resource efficiency, and continuous improvement. It improves data accuracy, streamlines communication, and enhances visibility.

Accelerating operational excellence with new technology means tracking products at item-level from source to consumer becomes a reality. Let’s see which aspects of this crucial practice can benefit from more transparency.

Where supply chains can boost operational excellence with item-level traceability solutions

1) Retail stores

Operational excellence in Retail stores
Operational excellence in Retail stores

In the retail environment, managing products efficiently is crucial. Product traceability solutions can revolutionize stock management processes, making them faster and more accurate. With a unique digital ID assigned to every item through digital triggers like RFID, each product can be tracked from the moment it enters the store until it leaves, in the hands of a customer. This level of detail can streamline everything from replenishment to stocktake, expiry date management, and write-offs, making store operations more efficient and profitable. More specifically, with RFID technology, inventory accuracy can be up to 99%, which minimizes stock availability/ out-of-stock situations in retail stores and increases omnichannel sales.

2) Distribution centers (DCs)

Operational excellence in Distribution centers (DCs)
Operational excellence in Distribution centers (DCs)

The benefits of traceability technology also extend to distribution centers. Accurate, efficient, and even personalized fulfillment becomes possible with digital IDs. From receiving to picking and shipping, every step of the process can be transformed. RFID-enabled operations empower the distribution network to be on-time, in-full, every time, eliminate shipping errors, reduce labor costs, and reduce chargebacks. For example, Bestseller is leveraging Avery Dennison’s DC solution, Case Verification, to RFID-enable their distribution centers and ensure inventory and shipping accuracy for millions of items per year.

3) Manufacturers and suppliers

Operational excellence for manufacturers and suppliers
Operational excellence for manufacturers and suppliers

Manufacturing processes can also see major improvements. Bringing transparency and accuracy to a new level, companies can use digital ID technology and traceability solutions to gain real-time insights into the value chain and how products are being manufactured. This can help ensure that shipments accurately reflect the original purchase order and that material information is up-to-date – reducing errors and improving efficiency. Such a level of transparency can enhance relationships with suppliers, as it allows for more accurate planning and better communication.

The future of operational excellence in supply chain management

As we look to the future, operational excellence will continue to shape the way supply chain management is viewed. Emerging trends and technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain, will bring new opportunities for improving efficiency and transparency. They’ll also present new challenges, requiring more of a commitment to continuous improvement and adaptation.

Look to the companies already making things better. Chipotle Mexican Grill leads the way in food product traceability, having introduced RFID technology to trace ingredients through their distribution centers and restaurants. It transformed inventory management into an automatic, digital function, and also made workers’ daily tasks more enjoyable. In apparel, Gap Inc. made their clothing supply chain more transparent for their Athleta brand, allowing customers to view the ‘DNA’ of each garment (its materials, provenance, etc.) by scanning a QR code, and Uniqlo leveraging RFID-enabled self-checkout, extending the use-case beyond inventory management to many other things.

Countless businesses have opportunities like this hiding in plain sight. With better item traceability, they’ll be able to see the massive potential for adding value through their operations. Just a single data point could be the insight you need for a transformative change – what could your business find?

Clear the path so your supply chain excels

Operational excellence is more than just a set of practices; it's a mindset. It's about constantly striving for improvement, not just in terms of efficiency, but also in terms of sustainability and transparency.

We know that these principles are no longer a luxury; they’re a necessity. Consumers and regulators demand to know where products come from and what they're made of.

By utilizing digital ID technology and connected product cloud, companies can establish trust and transparency, and achieve even stronger operational excellence in their supply chains. They can meet the demands of consumers and regulators while preparing for the future. plays a pivotal role in this process. By assigning unique digital IDs to everyday items, it provides end-to-end traceability, enabling companies to track, store, and manage all events associated with each individual product. This level of detail is crucial in identifying inefficiencies, reducing waste, and driving sustainability.

The path to sustainable, transparent supply chains is paved with operational excellence, and will illuminate it for you.

Want to discover great opportunities for your supply chain? Book a free demo of


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