Emma Verkaik, CEO of the BCMPA – the Association for Contract Manufacturing, Packing, Fulfilment & Logistics, reflects on the growing role of outsourcing, and how even in a year of change the sector is delivering an ever-wider range of services for today’s brands and retailers.
This year the unprecedented global challenges post pandemic and Brexit alongside the economic downturn, inflation and the issues of labour shortages, greater demands on warehousing through supply chain concerns, changes in legislation, and the need to find greener alternatives have all resulted in more reliance on third parties. Despite these obstacles the expertise, innovation, forensic planning and adaptability of our members has come to the fore and partnerships across an extended range of services are now delivering even greater value.
Sustainability is now at the forefront of both customer and brand expectations. It is now integral to the services our sector delivers as we support clients along their own journey to Net Zero. Often small actions make a big impact and the concept of ‘Green Warehousing’ is becoming a focus for many across our industry. While it is important to recognise that the outsourcing industry will always have an energy footprint, reducing this impact is key and not only provides an environmental benefit but controls costs as well.
Having a sustainability roadmap is a key enabler, and many companies in the sector have one in place or are developing one for the future. From the use of solar panels on warehouse roofs and wind turbines for clean energy creation to the use of HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) fuel to reduce carbon emissions, there is a myriad of projects underway.
Alongside sustainability, a focus on delivering change and improvements to services is being enabled through technology and digitalisation. These are now key to enabling the flexibility and agility that customers require to ensure that their stock is kept on the shelves and delivered on time. As the new, highly agile ecommerce fulfilment landscape develops, the need for efficient and responsive systems will come to the fore. This is impacting on how BCMPA members are managing their internal systems, with software developments not only driving profitability, efficiency, and accuracy internally, but also providing greater visibility and service to clients.
2024 will see this focus continuing as the BCMPA works to strengthen a collaborative relationship between itself, members, brand owners and retailers. Ultimately this approach will ensure we continue to raise the profile of outsourcing to a wider audience and future proof the essential role of outsourcing in this challenging yet dynamic and innovative sector.