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How Event-Driven Architecture Can Help Retailers Reset Their Global Supply Chain Reporting

How Event-Driven Architecture Can Help Retailers Reset Their Global Supply Chain Reporting

How Event-Driven Architecture Can Help Retailers Reset Their Global Supply Chain Reporting

Ush Shukla—the Director of Solution Engineering for North America at Solace—outlines how event-driven architecture can help retailers reset their global supply chain reporting efforts to meet sustainability goals. This article originally appeared in Insight Jam, an enterprise IT community that enables human conversation on AI.

Retailers are under pressure to manage immense global supply chains that span manufacturing depots, warehouses, stores, and even customer home delivery. These sites are disparate, and each brings its own geo-political and economic issues that have the potential to damage entire supply chains. So, for retailers to get an in-depth overview of their sustainability impact is no easy feat.

Crucial Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting needs real-time data linked across the entire ecosystem. The industry needs to reset its approach to data gathering and movement. The retail supply chain currently contributes up to 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) globally, a staggering statistic that needs to change. Thankfully, organizations across the entire retail industry have taken note. Around 73 percent of Consumer Industry CxOs have increased investments in sustainability over the last year.

While IT has long held the promise of being an ESG enabler, traditional systems are not designed to support the open, transparent flow of information, making data inaccessible. Retailers need an IT architecture that is as event-driven as the external events disrupting their business so they can collect, analyze, and action the data in real-time.

A Robust IT Infrastructure to Support ESG Reporting

In retail, this could apply to stores, IoT applications, e-commerce platforms, warehouses, and HQ—regardless of the system, cloud, or protocols involved. The result is a business-wide web of event brokers that is dynamic, open, simple, and available everywhere. It is ready to cope with disruptions and ensure ESG commitments are tracked and attained. By leveraging event-driven architecture (EDA) as the underlying platform, retailers can make significant strides toward proactively addressing their ESG impact.

1) Dead-Heading – The Key to Optimization

Any truck returning to base from scheduled delivery drop-offs either empty or partially full and making low-stock journeys contributes to eco inefficiency. Dead-head journeys have been recorded, clocking up distances of around 34 billion kilometers (21 billion miles). North American data estimates that as many as 3.5 billion hours of U.S. trucking could be unproductive, with between 20 percent and 35 percent of hours likely to be driven empty.

From an immediate perspective, sensors on a truck can monitor fuel and A/C emissions, which get uploaded to the Cloud. Applications connected through EDA will then monitor and analyze the data to deliver the “greenest route” to drivers in real-time. This lessens emissions but also mitigates the need to shut down the A/C, which has contributed to food waste.

A real-time view of where stock is and when

By event-enabling their entire delivery operation, retailers can view in real-time every truck, see the distribution of a global supply chain, such as stock availability in other regions, and model alternative scenarios to fulfill orders via other viable routes or delivery mechanisms.

This ability to reroute on the fly is critical to fulfilling ESG and customer expectations. With EDA underpinning operations, retailers can capitalize on up-to-date data to make meaningful scheduling decisions and react much faster to any changes in supply/demand.

2) Reducing Food Waste Across the Entire Enterprise

When keeping wastage under control, perishable products are on the clock from the moment they enter the retail value chain, right down to the final hours they spend on the shelf. E-price tags have helped set the stage for grocers to monitor inventory and adjust prices of batches of inventory on the fly to optimize sales and reduce the likelihood of goods wasting away on shelves or counters.

However, monitoring the stock in “batch” limits actionability. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has evolved in recent years, and today, these chips can feed more granular data about the item—when it was shipped, received, put on the shelf, how long it’s been under the heat lamps, etc. This data grants grocers a goldmine of real-time information that, if harvested properly, can best mitigate stock going to waste using measures like timed price reductions. This perpetual “state of freshness” applied at the item level goes a long way to not only eliminating food waste but also helping safeguard store profitability.

Avoid overstocking

From a broader supply chain and inventory management perspective, access to real-time, granular details can also help analyze sales and inventory patterns to optimize when and how much to order, ensuring the correct amount is in the store to meet consumers’ needs. This also works upstream, with these insights pushed back to suppliers to help optimize production—helping farmers better plan how much to grow and when.

3) Monitoring Energy Usage – The Larger the Building, the More Energy  

Given physical store footprints, there are direct opportunities to reduce in-store emissions from an energy and utilities perspective. To lower these emissions, retailers could seek to improve energy efficiency in stores with LEDs, more efficient heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) motors, heat pumps, on-site solar power generation, and battery energy storage. For grocers, refrigeration in stores is a particular emissions concern. Identifying and managing refrigerant leaks and, in extreme cases, completely overhauling store systems will require effort.

What’s Next?

Today’s stores can’t do this at a granular level. In the future, we will see a world where you can pre-emptively adjust a store’s “climate” based on weather, customer traffic flows, and other factors to help keep emissions low and minimize carbon footprint. Longer-term information insights can help monitor the overall health of a building and score real-time emissions against goals/projections, enabling retailers to adjust and act based on data-driven insights. EDA will play a significant role in linking key events to deliver the required data insights to track this granular performance.

Companies Must Move in Real-Time to Make Real ESG Change

Organizations need to move in real-time to make a true difference in ESG conditions within the retail industry. An IT infrastructure underpinned by Event-Driven Architecture (EDA) provides unparalleled insights across the entire ecosystem to enable a real-time overview of supply chains at any given time.

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