Ethical Sourcing – A Must-Have For Retailers

The millennial customers, besides being dominant in purchasing goods, also care about the company’s social values — its social responsibility, sustainability and ethics.

Previously, consumers would be satisfied with only the end-products. But not anymore. Today, they want to make sure that the products are ethically sourced. They even go as far as looking at the conditions of workers in the factories. The consumers today are gauging retailers on many parameters, like sympathetic labour practices, community involvement, ethical dealings with vendors, humane treatment of animals among others.

Henceforth, if a business wants to win the hearts of customers, then they have to get rid of the ‘corporate hypocrisy’, that corresponds to discrepancies in words and deeds. Customers are always on the look-out for such “inside information”, as getting any kind of information these days is just a ‘Google Search’ away.

Proliferation of social media is a powerful tool that easily identifies the company from their words and deeds. This kind of customer inquisitiveness is the latest thing, as study on consumer habits suggest that consumers are demanding that the companies should value the interests of the society at least and have some sense of responsibility towards the societal interest and wellbeing.

The global marketplace demands the business world to lend importance to value over the fiscal imperatives, where they should try to emulate Starbucks that spends more than it needs to spend on coffee beans to buy only the most ethically sourced beans, and H&M, the brand has recently claimed to have 100 per cent ethically sourced down products in their collection this year.

There are many cases in which consumers have shunned retailers just by their concern about their factory production.

The most-celebrated case is of Nike. The brand had insisted that labour conditions in its contractors’ factories were not its responsibility — a statement for which the Nike factories suddenly came under attack and the brand was sullied disastrously for malpractices within its factory that included child labour. On seeing the sharp decline in its revenue, the brand took a re-formative step in the form of a collaborative approach by drafting a code-sharing workplace and best human resource practices.

Today, the core strategy for apparel retailers to win the hearts of their customers is to build sustainable and ethical supply chains. An efficient supply chain cannot be divorced from corporate social responsibility (CSR) that concerns the environment, health and safety.

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