Woolworths South Africa ensures ethical product sourcing with Oracle Retail
The retailer drives sustainability with Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management for transparency in product sourcing and packaging.
“We believe that setting ambitious sustainability goals challenges our business to do more and inspires our suppliers to collaborate. Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management guarantees that every product sold at Woolworths has a sustainability attribute that can be identified, measured, audited, and reported.”
Founded in 1931, Woolworths South Africa is a multinational retail company offering food, apparel, beauty products, and housewares.
Through its Good Business Journey (GBJ) strategy, Woolworths puts sustainability at the center of its business practices. Started in 2007, the program addresses ethical sourcing, sustainable farming, zero waste to landfills, and other sustainability practices.
The GBJ framework supports the company’s Vision 2025 goal to be one of the world’s most responsible retailers, with initiatives such as phasing out single-use plastic bags, reducing food loss and waste by half, and publishing sustainability details of its private-label products.
However, as Woolworths began to devise sustainable requirements for each of its products, it became clear that manual spreadsheets were not the answer for storing and reporting on those attributes. Every product is required to have a minimum of one sustainable attribute tied to it. Examples of sustainable attributes are free range, recycled content in packaging, and packaging reduction. These attributes must be captured and reported for each product. During the implementation of Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management, Woolworths realized that the sustainable attributes would be captured in the solution’s product specs and then reported directly from the system, which would be more efficient than the use of manual spreadsheets.
Capturing private-label supply chain attributes in Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management has given us the reliable sustainability reporting that is critical to our daily operations.
Why Woolworths chose Oracle
A user of Oracle Retail solutions since 2008, Woolworths reviewed the market options and was confident that its 15-year partnership with Oracle was still the best fit for the future. The company uses Oracle Retail Merchandising to track merchandise stock and Oracle Retail Invoice Matching to ensure that payments are directly linked to actual merchandise receipts against valid purchase orders. Woolworths has also implemented Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting to help with planning.
The company selected Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management as its product specification system, following an evaluation process that documented Woolworths’ needs and resulted in Oracle emerging as the best choice. Woolworths subsequently won Oracle’s Earthfirst Award for Excellence in Sustainability for deploying the solution to capture all food sustainability-related product data and then report on the metrics.
Woolworths South Africa assigns attributes to about 10,000 product SKUs with the help of Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management.
Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management enabled Woolworths to audit and monitor its private-label products by making visible all elements of food quality, safety, consistency, and traceability throughout production and supply chain. After adopting Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management, Woolworths tracked and measured the key sustainability goals behind its GBJ strategy using data gathered from food producers, logistics systems, ingredient providers, and sales.
The system captured and monitored sustainability attributes for every private-label product and maintained a scorecard of impact on performance improvements in eight focus areas—energy and climate change, water, packaging and waste, sustainable farming, ethical sourcing, people, social development, and health and wellness.
The company’s product specifications, powered by Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management, guaranteed that each product attribute was identified, measured, independently audited, and reported in the company’s GBJ communications.
Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management became the single repository not only for product information and attributes, but also for supplier audits, factory assessments, and other supply chain factors, resulting in reliable sustainability reporting in real time.
By automating business flows for recording and reporting on the end-to-end product lifecycle for its brand portfolio, Woolworths gained a 360-degree view of its products and suppliers and relieved staff of manual work in spreadsheets. The retailer now counts on a single, up-to-date list of published data on suppliers, including factories and farms, packaging, and waste disposal—providing fully transparent and traceable supply chain visibility to customers and other stakeholders.
In the key area of reducing retail sector waste, Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management facilitated eco-friendly modifications to packaging materials, leading to wins such as the introduction of 100% recyclable packaging for avocados and the elimination of single-use plastic shopping bags.
By capturing packaging information in product specifications, the company’s use of Oracle Retail supported its commitment to removing and replacing packaging that is not reusable or recyclable, heading toward the goal of contributing zero packaging waste to landfills.
Woolworths selected Oracle Gold Partner Opal BPM as its implementation partner. The project took about six months to complete.
About the customer
With 33,000 employees, Woolworths South Africa aims to be one of the world’s most responsible retailers. The company was the first area retailer to offer employees a pension fund, medical aid, and maternity leave. In 1974, it became the first South African retailer to introduce “sell-by” dates on food packaging.