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Greening Retail: Walmart Leads the Way

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Plans For CBS And Viacom Merger Called Off After Redstones Pull Support

Walmart’s traditional obsession with efficiency is no longer just a matter of saving money. Greening retail has become a true double entendre, with carbon and cash both essential to figuring out how to remove 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its extended supply chain by the end of the next decade.

The commitment is more than just an audacious goal. Walmart’s omnichannel fulfillment ecosystem has been modeled in detail by Bain & Company with compelling results that all retailers and most manufacturers should understand.

Shipping and Handling in the Age of Amazon

Supply chain is a glutton when it comes to resource consumption. Even before the arrival of Amazon, retail supply chains consumed energy, labor and materials in vast quantities to offer consumers the convenience of readily available stuff on store shelves. Plenty of effort went into efficient packaging design, full truckload delivery and optimal route planning, but still carbon emissions belched forth.

Now that e-commerce accounts for nearly a tenth of US retail sales, the supply chain carbon footprint of the sector threatens to balloon with ever more packaging, single-item doorstep delivery and multiple warehouse stops between factory and consumer. Is the future of retail inevitably tied to more and more cardboard, bubble wrap and UPS trucks?

Maybe not, if the consumer can be co-opted to help.

This is where Bain’s analysis of Walmart’s omnichannel fulfillment system comes in. By modeling not only the cost and carbon burden of logistics to the point of sale, but also the consumer’s contribution in terms of…