Ush Shukla, Distinguished Engineer, Solace

However, a major hurdle for the larger retail firms to reach any ESG goals is that their supply chains, manufacturing, stores and deliveries are hugely complex, vulnerable to disruptions and siloing of data. 

By becoming more event-driven, leveraging event-driven architecture (EDA), retailers can take major strides forward to proactively address their ESG impact particularly in three key areas of their business.

  1. Optimizing transportation/emissions on every journey

    Trucking, particularly in Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia, can be unproductive due to the prevalence of long-distance, one-way deliveries that result in vehicles often being empty.

    From an immediate perspective: sensors on a truck can monitor fuel emissions, which then get uploaded to the Cloud. Applications connected through EDA will then monitor and analyze the data to deliver the “greenest route” — which is also most likely to be quicker — to drivers, in real-time. This lessens emissions but also optimizes delivery and fulfillment times, resulting in time and cost savings.

    However, a fleet-wide approach for stocking and route planning — coupled with a siloed approach to data streaming — makes it difficult for retailers to get a holistic understanding of their eco output across their supply chain.

    So, the alternative is this: By event-enabling their entire delivery operation, the retailer 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 re-route on-the-fly is a key missing ingredient to both fulfilling ESG and customer expectations.

  2. Food waste control

    Perishable products are running “on the clock” the moment they enter the retail value chain. The introduction of e-price tags has 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 stock in “batch” limits actionability : But what if we could monitor at the precise item level? Radio Frequency Identification circuits can feed more granular data about the item. This data grants grocers a goldmine of real-time information that, if harvested properly, can reduce stock wastage via measures such as timed price reductions.

    From a broader supply chain and inventory management perspective, access to real-time, granular details can also help businesses to analyze sales and inventory patterns.

  3. Eco-friendly retail premises

    There are already direct opportunities to reduce in-store emissions from an energy and utilities perspective, via LEDs lamps; more-efficient heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning motors and so on.

    For grocers, refrigeration in stores is a particular emissions concern, and will require efforts to identify and manage refrigerant leaks. So, there are clearly big gains for large scale physical retailers to monitor cooling/heating/electricity levels in-store and adjusting according to optimal usage.

    However, retail stores still cannot do adjustments at a granular level yet. In the future, we 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.

    In the longer term, EDA information insights can help building owners to monitor the overall health of a building and score real-time emissions against goals/projections, enabling retailers to adjust and take granular action based on data-driven insights.