Applying the six-step process to supply chain emissions
Step one: Materially important issue
As Walmart had already identified supply chain emissions as a materially important issue, they had already completed step one of Supply Pilot's six-step process. Around half of our customers begin working with us at step two, having identified the important issues to their business and stakeholders internally.
Step two: Smart Goal
Whilst the project's primary purpose was to create an emissions inventory that established a benchmark, it also helped Walmart understand the suppliers' current activities around supply chain sustainability. This understanding of supplier capabilities was achieved by asking additional questions, such as:
- Whether regulation had triggered the GHG reduction initiatives
- Internal capabilities and knowledge of decarbonization strategies
- Sales impact after initiatives had been implemented
These additional questions helped inform Walmart's ambitious goal to reduce or avoid one billion metric tons of GHGs as part of Project Gigaton.
Step three: Benchmark
Before the launch of the supplier GHG questionnaire, Supply Pilot's Campaign Team ran a supplier contact accuracy campaign. This campaign ensures that, when we request suppliers to complete the questionnaire, it is sent to the right person within the supplier's organisation. As part of this phase of the project, the "why" behind the project was communicated to suppliers so that they understood what Walmart was trying to achieve.
Typically retailer and brand supplier data is only 18% accurate. This low level of contact accuracy means that supply chain data collection exercises can be delayed by months whilst emails are sent to:
- inactive inboxes
- incorrect contacts
- commercial contacts who don't have the appropriate level of technical knowledge
Supply Pilot's supplier contact accuracy campaign captured up-to-date contacts for 94% of the suppliers within scope over three weeks.
The GHGs questionnaire itself consisted of 15 questions hosted on the award-winning Walmart Sustainability Hub, built on the Supply Pilot Platform. Supply Pilot's Campaign Team managed the supplier communications on Walmart's behalf, including monitoring which emails were being opened and how far suppliers were progressing through the survey prior to submitting their responses. This approach enabled tailored follow-up with suppliers at scale:
- Suppliers whom only part completed the questionnaire were sent reminders to encourage them to complete the few remaining questions
- A sample of suppliers who viewed the questionnaire but didn't start it were contacted to understand whether there were any knowledge gaps that could be filled in future emails to suppliers
- Email subject lines were tweaked for suppliers not opening emails at all to increase the perceived relevance
Whilst no single tactic was a "silver bullet", the accumulation of all supplier engagement activities helped Supply Pilot achieve a response rate that exceeded Walmart's expectations.
Step four: Activation
Walmart's Sustainability Hub provided a central location for supplier self-help knowledge and training around multiple sustainability topics, including supply chain emissions. A monthly supplier newsletter promoted the key topics and maintained consistent engagement across the supply base.
Through the proactive monitoring of usage and supplier feedback, and the curation of relevant and valuable knowledge, the Hub consistently achieved over 4,000 unique visits per month from suppliers.
Step five: Data-driven KPI
Whilst out of scope of the project described within this case study, Walmart leverages the Supply Pilot platform to securely share key performance indicators (KPI) and business intelligence with suppliers. These supplier scorecards include customer companies, online ratings and reviews, audit performance and, when the additional focus is needed around a specific initiative, supply chain sustainability performance.
Step six: Commercialization
Walmart achieved a commercial benefit from this project in three ways:
- Cost reductions from operational efficiencies within the supply chain that could be passed on to customers through lower prices
- Positive consumer brand sentiment through the promotion of their efforts to reduce their environmental impact
- Reduced risk associated with innovative sustainability projects through supplier collaboration and knowledge sharing