The Retailer Winter Edition 2022

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Critical components of supply chain transparency What does effective supply chain transparency mean, and what does such an approach look like? Formulation management is a foremost concern for retailers dealing with chemicals and chemical components in consumer goods. Retailers selling such products require adequate formulation or product data from manufacturers to ascertain whether any ingredients in the products they sell contain chemicals of concern or otherwise appear on restricted substance lists—whichwould trigger compliance issues as well as impact retailers’ sustainability claims. Access to product data, including mate rial composition information, helps alert retailers if any transportation, storage, disposal or related requirements come into play. However, as product formulations and component data have become increasingly important for retail supply chain transparency, retailers often find their suppliers reluctant or unwilling to disclose full product formulations to protect their proprietary information. Retailers require aids to support practical assessment of their product assortments based on the full material composition of those products. To help enable the sharing of critical product information without dis closing critical confidential business information (CBI) on products, retailers have partnered with UL, a third-party intermediary, to collect, evaluate and deliver essential data for decision-making. UL’s PurView® program, for example, allows retailers to collect and assess sustainability-related attributes for products they sell in stores or online. Suppliers and manufacturers only share information about product compliance and chemicals of concern while their proprietary data remains protected. Sustainability-focused product curation Retailers with established chemical data management policies and processes can better position themselves to actively source and curate product lines that meet growing customer and stakeholder demands for sustainability. These curation efforts involve custom evaluation frameworks consisting of retailers’ restricted substance lists. Such lists go beyond baseline regulatory requirements, allowing retailers to make their customers’ concerns about safety and sustainability a higher priority.

In addition, retailers with validated product data can perform complex product evaluations, which allows them to prioritize different sustain ability attributes in their product lines and brands. Target’s Target Clean program provides a good example: using UL software, Target Clean per forms complex evaluations in order to curate product lines that meet the retailer’s requirements for safer formulation and improved sustainability. The Target Clean product curation program features products more prominently on Target’s website and in the retailer’s stores—typically in special displays. As a result, products participating in the program have experienced an increase in sales of about 30% on average, providing quite an incentive for manufacturers of such products. Developing sustainable private-label product lines Using tools and programs to support sustainability-focused product curation can ultimately lead to retailers developing their own sustainable, private-label product lines. These efforts, in turn, enable retailers to gain the necessary data transparency to drive the development of safer and more sustainable own-brand products. Conclusion Building transparency into supply chains has become more than a compliance issue for retailers. To address demands from consumers, stakeholders and investors, retailers have access to a growing array of tools and best practices to evaluate suppliers, bolster curation capabilities and establish their own safe and sustainable product lines. Contact UL to learn more about resources available to drive supply chain transparency

Dr. William Pease

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