Case study

Walmart removes 20 million metric tons of GHGs from its global supply chain

Walmart partnered with Supply Pilot (formerly S4RB) to benchmark supply chain greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), engage suppliers and inform realistic and achievable goals for their world-renowned "Project Gigaton".

walmart-logo-white Walmart-carbon-emissions-feature

At a glance

Walmart leveraged the Supply Pilot platform to launch the Project Gigaton initiative, collect Scope 3 supply chain emission data and engage suppliers with decarbonization strategies through the award-winning Walmart Sustainability Hub. 

Industry

Retail

Materially important issue

Scope 3 (Supply Chain Emissions)

Step of the process
Benchmark Activation
Platform elements used
Supplier engagement Supply Chain Data Collection
Number of suppliers

4,500

Outcome

20 million metric tons of GHGs removed

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We partnered with Supply Pilot...to engage thousands of suppliers across hundreds of product categories, understand what the opportunities are, explain the purpose for why we're working on this, and provide the tools to enable suppliers to drive progress. 

Rob Kaplan Director of Product Sustainability, Walmart

Background

Emissions produced through the downstream use of a product by consumers and upstream manufacture are categorised as "Scope 3" emissions. In the retail sector, over 90% of the emissions are produced within the supply chain. However, less than 25% of companies engage their suppliers to reduce these emissions.

Walmart created Project Gigaton with the aim to reduce or avoid one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of GHGs from their global value chain by 2030. Before its launch, Walmart partnered with Supply Pilot to benchmark their supply chain emissions and eliminate 20 million metric tons of GHG emissions from their global supply chain - the same as taking more than 3.8 million cars off the road for a year.

Walmart's Sustainability Team, led by Rob Kaplan, planned to achieve this by promoting smaller, incremental improvements across the entire supply chain. This approach went against the conventional wisdom of the day that focused on fewer, larger impact projects with a handful of strategic suppliers.

We know there are multi-million-ton opportunities, but we also know that there are GHG and sustainability innovations happening every day.

Whether it's packaging reduction or logistical efficiency that has an environmental benefit, we need to capture that and be able to roll it up to talk about the impact that its having.

Rob Kaplan
Rob Kaplan Director of Product Sustainability, Walmart

The six-step process

Supply Pilot developed the six-step process after over a decade of succeeding despite the complexity and scale of retailers and brands collaborating with their suppliers.

Measuring and reducing Scope 3 Supply Chain Emissions are, perhaps, the perfect application of the framework due to the range of knowledge within the supply base. These vastly different needs of your suppliers must be factored into your approach for you to be successful.

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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

How the Supply Pilot Platform was used

Supplier Engagement

Targeted email communications were sent to suppliers based on how far they had progressed towards completing the GHG survey. This meant that Walmart's project team had complete transparency over how the project was progressing, whilst Supply Pilot's Campaign Team could most efficiently focus their energy and effort based on actual supplier activity.

A knowledge base was populated with information to help suppliers independently complete the survey and learn about potential GHG reduction strategies. Suppliers required less support and had fewer barriers to completing the survey resulting in:

  • Higher response rates
  • Improved quality of responses
  • Lower overall supplier support burden

Supplier questions and feedback were centralised into a single inbox. For the few questions that the knowledgebase articles didn't answer, suppliers received a consistently high level of personal support from a team that was empowered to manage supplier queries in the most efficient way possible.

Supply Chain Data Collection

Walmart's specific question requirements with configured as a dedicated form within the Supply Pilot Platform. The flexibility of the Platform meant that Walmart wasn't constrained to a standard questionnaire and had the freedom to implement the questions that were most relevant to their business.

Online dashboards provided near real-time transparency of responses as they came in. Like the forms themselves, the dashboards and complementary data extracts allowed Walmart to visualise the results in the most valuable way to the project team and their internal stakeholders.

Impact

Walmart and Supply Pilot benchmarked supply chain emissions, engaged thousands of suppliers and set realistic, achievable and ambitious "Project Gigaton" goals.

Award-winning project

Oracle Sustainability Innovation Award

20 million metric tons of emissions

removed or avoided within Walmart's supply chain

+4,000 monthly unique visits

on Walmart's Sustainability Hub

Realistic and achievement targets

set for Project Gigaton

Establish your Scope 3 benchmark

It can feel like an impossible task: your board has committed to measuring and reducing scope 3 supply chain emissions, but you know most suppliers can't give you the data. Our approach solves this problem by facing it head-on.