Can sellers really operate within the Amazon supply chain standards?

This is the second in a two-part series about Amazon Supply Chain Standards and how you can make sure your business is in compliance.

In Part 1, we introduced the Amazon Supply Chain Standards and looked at some best practices that will help responsible business owners avoid pitfalls while ensuring the products they sell on Amazon are safe, sustainable and ethically sourced.

This post examines how to get started, beginning with how to locate manufacturers with the best records and highest Amazon supply chain standards.

Amazons supply chain standards

Let’s talk manufacturers

Finding the right manufacturer when the goal is compliance with a strict but nebulous policy such as the Amazon Supply Chain Standards can seem daunting. Where do you start?

And what about the question that is likely on everyone’s minds: Is China still a good source of goods under this new policy set?

How do manufacturers in China compare with manufacturers in other parts of the world when it comes to worker safety, product safety, ethical sourcing, and best environmental impact?

While it’s tempting to make generalizations about all manufacturers in a specific country, understand that every manufacturer has practices and policies that are going to vary. One shouldn’t be quick to judge based on location alone.

Some people have legitimate concerns about worker safety, product safety, ethical sourcing, and environmental impact in China, particularly in light of recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and near-constant stories of human rights violations taking place in the country.

That being said, many Chinese manufacturers are committed to worker safety, product safety, ethical sourcing, and environmental sustainability, and have made significant investments in these areas. Many are sincere in meeting Amazon supply chain standards. There are also certifications and standards, such as ISO 9001, that manufacturers can use to demonstrate their commitment to these values.

It is important to thoroughly research potential suppliers, regardless of their location, and to judge each individually by performing the kind of analysis outlined in Part 1. Pay attention to each company’s practices and policies related to worker safety, product safety, ethical sourcing, and environmental impact before you engage in a business relationship. This helps make sure you are meeting the Amazon supply chain standards.

What’s that about Amazon supply chain standards certifications?

Certifications are provided by independent organizations whose mission is to measure a company’s compliance with various standards. There are a bunch of official certifications that you can look for that indicate a manufacturer has high safety and ethics standards, many of which mirror the Amazon supply chain standards, including:

  • ISO 9001: A quality management certification that demonstrates a company’s commitment to meeting customer needs and providing high-quality products.
  • OHSAS 18001: An occupational health and safety certification that demonstrates a company’s commitment to providing a safe work environment for employees.
  • CE marking: A European Union certification indicating that a product meets high safety, health, and environmental standards.
  • UL certification: A safety certification from Underwriters Laboratories indicating that a product meets high safety and performance standards.
  • NSF International: A certification for food, water, and consumer goods, indicating that a product is safe for human consumption and use.
  • Greenguard Environmental Institute (GREENGUARD): A certification indicating that a product meets rigorous standards for indoor air quality and has low chemical emissions.

This list is not exhaustive, and a manufacturer’s commitment to safety and quality can also be demonstrated through other means, such as in-house quality control processes, supplier audits, and third-party assessments.

It is important to thoroughly research a potential supplier to assess their practices and policies related to safety, quality, and sustainability. The result? Full compliance, Amazon supply chain standards.

How about industry organizations?

A good place to start your research is with industry organizations that sellers can join to help them conduct their online businesses in an ethical and environmentally sustainable way. Manufacturers who belong to this type of organization exhibit high standards that should line up nicely with Amazon’s Supply Chain Standards. Some popular examples include:

    • Fair Trade USA: A non-profit organization that certifies products made by workers who are paid fair wages and work in safe conditions.
    • Rainforest Alliance: An international non-profit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable livelihoods.
    • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): An international certification for textiles made from organic fibers and produced using sustainable and ethical methods.
    • B Corp: A global community of companies that are using business as a force for good and meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
    • Sustainable Apparel Coalition: A global coalition of brands, retailers, manufacturers, academics, and non-profits working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products.
    • Sustainable Agricultural Network: An international non-profit organization that promotes sustainable agriculture and protects natural resources through certifying and promoting sustainable agriculture practices.
    • Fairtrade International : A global network of fair trade organizations working to secure greater justice in trade and promote sustainable development.

Joining an organization such as those in the list above and seeking certifications from them can help sellers demonstrate their commitment to ethical and environmentally sustainable business practices, and can help build customer trust and increase sales.

Sustainable sourcing sounds like a fantastic goal, but where can a small businessperson (or large businessperson for that matter) learn more about sustainable sourcing practices that also meet Amazon supply chain standards? Start here:

  • Websites of industry organizations: Websites of organizations such as Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance, and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) (see links above) are great sources of information on sustainable sourcing practices, certification standards, and the latest industry developments.
  • Online courses and certifications: Many organizations offer online courses and certifications, such as Sustainable Sourcing Professional certifications from the Institute for Supply Management, which can help you learn about sustainable sourcing practices and earn recognition for your expertise.
  • Books and articles: There are many books and articles written on sustainable sourcing practices, including “The Lean Supply Chain: Managing the Challenge” by Barry Evans and Robert Mason and “Developing a Sustainable Supply Chain: Management Issues, Insights, Concepts, and Tools ” by Robert Stroufe and Steven Melnyk – just one of a great 18-piece series called Environmental and Social Sustainability for Business Advantage.
  • Conferences and trade shows: Attending conferences and trade shows, such as the Ethical Sourcing Forum or the Sustainable Brands Conferences, can provide you with opportunities to network with others in the industry and learn about the latest developments in sustainable sourcing.
  • Industry experts: Connecting with industry experts on social media, such as sustainability consultants, procurement specialists, and CSR experts, can provide you with valuable insights and advice on sustainable sourcing practices.

Need a consult on seller and sourcing best practices about Amazon supply chain standards? We’re here to help.

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