Largest Sustainable Supply Chains: Apple
Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at the companies featured in September’s top ten largest sustainable supply chains worldwide. Up first, is Apple.
Finishing in second place in our sustainable list is the IT giants. Considered one of the “Big Four” alongside Facebook, Amazon and Google, Apple is truly global and its products are manufactured worldwide. Founded initially by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in 1976, Apple has transformed over the years to provide state-of-the-art technology and high-powered platforms such as the iMac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV and Apple Music.
An insight into Apple’s supply chain
Apple was voted as the leading supply chain worldwide for a number of years between 2010 and 2013 by research and advisory firm, Gartner, before being placed into a new masters category because of sustained leadership in its supply chain. With an unrivalled supply chain strategy that companies the world over look to as an example, it is believed a key reason to its success has been Apple’s decision to outsource the majority of its manufacturing to China. Following Steve Jobs death in 2011, Chief Operating Officer, Tim Cook, took over as CEO and has continued to develop long-term relationships with Apple’s suppliers. Known as a supply chain specialist, Cook has helped Apple through the implementation of inventory tracking mechanisms to squeeze its suppliers and ensure the quotes generated are grounded in the truth.
Apple values its sustainability drive. Its new products like the MacBook Air and Mac are made from 100% recycled aluminium and does focus on three key areas: climate change, resources and smarter chemistry. 100% of its global facilities are powered by renewable energy, with a 70% decrease in average product energy use in 10 years and a 35% reduction in overall carbon footprint in comparison to 2015. In addition, Apple is investing 485 megawatts of renewable energy projects in China to address upstream supply chain emissions. Apple’s Environmental Responsibility Report shone a light on its ambition to significantly reduce the impact of climate change. Efforts such as the reduction of emissions from aluminium in its products by 45%, a decrease in average product energy use by 70% and a considerable saving of 41.5mn kWh through energy initiatives at its global facilities has been vital to Apple’s sustainability ambitions. The firm also ensures that 100% of its global facilities are generated by 100% renewable energy.
Following the company's announcement of the release of the new iPhone, Supply Chain Digital looked at Apple's Supplier Responsibility Report earlier this week, the firm provides support and education that allows suppliers to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill while manufacturing Apple products in a bid to decrease the impact Apple has on the environment. Through a partnership to accelerate accountability and achieve continuous improvement, Apple expects to see a 30% rise in high-performing supplier facilities year on year.
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Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.