Welcome to Reach Partners’ exclusive vault sessions, where we unlock the industry’s most lucrative secrets to engage your customers, outpace your competition, and disrupt the marketplace with digital transformation.
As the Diamond Sponsor of the VIP Awards, an industry awards ceremony that honors and celebrates the changemakers and trailblazers of retail and tech, Reach Partners was able to catch up with Jacqueline Claudia, CEO of SmarterX and nominee for the Best Sustainability Initiative award and the Best Kept Secret award.
SmarterX is a technology solution that leverages data to help brands understand their impact on the environment, and how they can fundamentally change how their products are made, marketed, sold, and eventually disposed of, to improve that impact.
In this exclusive Vault Session, we asked Jacqueline about the opportunities and obstacles companies face when looking for a way to make their products and supply chain sustainable and eco-friendly.
Responding to the pressure of sustainable practice
Consumers are increasingly more aware of what goes into products and what happens to them when they’re done, putting pressure on retail companies to clean up their act. It isn’t just about the ingredients in their product, either. They also must consider how their products are made and disposed of and the overall impact of their supply chain.
“ESG, and sustainability specifically, have been hit with a lot of headwinds lately,” says Jacqueline. “Folks are getting called out for greenwashing. So, solutions that give you actual measurable, trackable data about the product decisions that you’re making for what to bring into your assortment and what happens to them when they need to leave potentially out of the back of the store is incredibly important.”
The second mounting pressure that Jacqueline recognizes is regulation. Consumers are now turning to the government to regulate the use of various chemicals, pollutants, unethical supply chains, and bad practices that are harmful to people, animals, or the planet. This rising pressure puts companies under scrutiny and compels them to reevaluate their operations and find innovative ways to reduce their environmental footprint.
“A lot of retailers are still dealing with last-generation solutions,” explains Jacqueline. “Customers demand safety and transparency in the products that they sell. And new technology is really important to help them be able to manage that risk.”
Finally, another large obstacle that Jacqueline sees retailers facing is labor.
“Labor is in shortage and is incredibly expensive,” says Jacqueline. “So, solutions that allow you to do more with less manpower by deploying technology intelligently is critically important.”
That is why digital transformations are a powerful way to help companies change and grow while minimizing overhead costs.
How to successfully transform your business for sustainability
The need to strike a balance between cost-effectiveness and sustainability can create significant hurdles for businesses. This often prevents companies from reaching further in their eco-friendly goals. So, to successfully transform your business in a way that is just as good for the bottom line as it is for the environment, companies must achieve three things: ROI, alignment, and trust.
“First, there needs to be five to ten times the ROI for what you’re deploying. Otherwise, it’s difficult to get the organization behind that,” says Jacqueline.
Stakeholders need to see the monetary value and growth opportunities before investing time, money, and risk into large transformations, which brings up the second point.
“The second lesson is that all stakeholders need to understand that value, what it’s bringing financially, but also the extra business benefits that the solution brings,” says Jacqueline.
Talking regularly to your stakeholders and addressing questions, problems, hesitations, and miscommunications (at all levels) helps ensure everyone is working toward the same goal and aligned with how to get there.
Finally, the third most important lesson is trust. Jacqueline says a solution must be deployed with trust from the employees, the customers, and other stakeholders. She does this by ensuring that their clients have access to their on-staff experts.
“We’ve got a team of data scientists [and] regulatory nerds and talking to them at any time doesn’t come with a rate card. Real people talking to real people is an important part of how you transform business,” says Jacqueline.