When you run your own business, you’re going to spend a lot of time developing products that provide your target demographic with what they’re looking for. Whether that’s food, perfume, technology or any other field or industry you’ve chosen to specialise in. Providing people with what they want can help you to build a brand reputation that brings in even more consumers and success. Of course, there are always going to be problems along the way. An area that you’re going to find yourself focusing on – and potentially finding difficulty with – is protecting your brand’s authenticity. You’re going to want to ensure that your suppliers are providing you with authentic ingredients or materials, helping you to guarantee that your products are safe for consumers and providing what they say they do on the label. Of course, counterfeiting or inauthentic goods can be difficult to identify and trace. Individuals with bad intentions have a host of complex and nuanced ways to hide their fraud and cover up counterfeit products and activities, making identifying and detecting them challenging. To help you with these issues, we’ve created the ultimate guide to protect your business’ authenticity.

Implementing Traceability

The first area you’re going to find yourself focusing on is traceability. Nowadays, businesses tend to have multi-tier supply chains, meaning if you’re not careful, you can find that your raw materials could have come from somewhere that you’re entirely unaware of. Having full insight into the journey your materials or goods have been through before reaching you can help you to ensure that not only are they authentic, but they have also been sourced in an ethical and fair manner. This can also allow you to make your business more transparent, as you can share more information about your products and their creation with your customers, partners, and stakeholders. To achieve this, you’re going to have to implement three processes into your business: traceability, mapping and transparency. Here’s more information on them!

Supply Chain Traceability

To implement supply chain traceability into your business, you’re going to need to track the provenance and  journey of your materials and products, from the very start of the supply chain through to the point that you get your hands on them. Traceability is absolutely critical in many industries where safety could be a concern. For example, if you’re operating in food or pharmaceuticals, you need to know exactly where your ingredients were sourced and what they contain to be able to safely sell them. Traceability is also important when it comes to meeting regulatory requirements in many industries.

Sure, tracing your products through the supply chain may come at a cost. But it’s more than worth it to have the peace of mind that you’re selling quality products that are ethical and meet regulatory standards. This will prove much more cost effective than running the risk of having your products investigated or having consumers find out that your products are untrustworthy or produced in a morally questionable way.

Traceability can also be good for marketing. If you know exactly where your products ate from, you can verify and promote social and environmental claims (such as being able to claim that your products are certified organic, carbon neutral or are fair trade).

Supply Chain Mapping

Of course, to be able to verify and trace your supply chain, you’re going to have to engage with supply chain mapping. This is essentially the process of creating a full and clear picture of the different companies, suppliers and organizations within your business’ supply chain. You will need to detail every tier. This will help to identify all individuals or companies involved at each stage of the supply chain. You may be surprised to see just how many individuals your materials or products have passed through before they reach you. Of course, if you are sourcing materials or ingredients from overseas, this can be a complex task, leading all the way back to smallholder farmers, factory workers or even individuals working in their own homes. All in all, however, this effort is more than worth it, as it allows you a clear picture of everyone involved in the process and can ensure that you choose suppliers and workers who can be trusted and who have a good reputation for supplying authentic goods. It also ensures that there’s no mistreatment or working conditions along the way. If you find suppliers that pose potential issues, such as being untrustworthy and providing low quality goods or being unable to provide testing certificates or other sources of authentication, you can choose alternatives and increase the authenticity of your own product. By the end of this process, you should be able to rest assured that you are investing in materials or products that are up to standard.

Supply Chain Transparency

Once you have spent the time, effort and money gathering information about your supply chain and its authenticity, you’re going to then need to focus on transparency. When companies fail to be transparent about their products and their sources, consumers can become suspicious, feeling as though the company has something to hide. When you implement supply chain transparency, you are implementing a strategy that will allow you to disclose where your ingredients, materials and products are sourced. If you have nothing to hide and your products are completely authentic, it’s best to be transparent and open with your supply chain with stakeholders, consumers and others. How transparent you are will be defined by what data you are going to be transparent about, to who and when.

There are countless ways that you can be transparent about your supply chain with your consumers. You have a host of marketing tools available to you that can be used to your advantage. Some companies will have a page on their website displaying their supply chain map. This gives customers confidence, as they can see the final product’s entire journey. You could be proactive in letting people know about your products’ authenticity. You can post on social media or send emails via your mailing list. Of course, if you’re going to do this, you need to make sure that you are regularly reviewing your supply chain to ensure changes haven’t been made along the way since your last check.

While verifying your products’ authenticity can be a problem nowadays, implementing clear traceability can really help give you and your consumers confidence that your products are what you’re selling them as. Hopefully, some of this information will help!