This article is provided by BRC Associate Member CarbonCloud


Climate strategies for the supply chain are systematically maturing, especially in the previously unexplored domain of supplier involvement. At the moment, grocers are pushing the climate maturity of the entire food supply chain forward. Retailers are requesting emissions data from their suppliers who are in turn propelled to propagate the request to their suppliers all the way to farm level.

Scope 3 emissions work is still in its early days with many uncertainties ahead. However, the conclusion is certain: The ongoing tectonic shift in the FMCG supply chain emissions will inevitably result in systemic change. Since the end-game is behavioral change across organisations, successfully reaching the destination depends on building on a robust but scalable foundation.

Building the foundation amidst a tectonic shift can be done on steady grounds. It is fully possible to test out tools and processes for minimum risk and maximum gain – with existing resources, and most importantly, with existing data. Before large organisations like retailers commit to any process or tool, the most secure way to kickstart transformation is with a pilot: A project at small scale with minimum input to explore the insights necessary to scale up.

Here are the resources, decisions, and data a retailer needs to design a successful emissions reduction pilot.

Bring everyone on the same page: The pilot kick-off meeting agenda

The most important boundary to keep in mind is that a pilot is testing feasibility on two dimensions: 

a)   The software solution
b)   The internal processes

Overlooking the latter often results in a common pitfall: Involving only technical resources and no decision-makers or leaders. 

Kick-off meeting participants

Even in the kick-off meeting, resources from both the technical and the business side of the organisation are needed. A representative from leadership will also propel the success of the project. Their buy-in is critical for two reasons: 

  1. If the pilot does not address a business risk or opportunity, the transformation will be dropped or not sufficiently prioritized.
  2. If the pilot does not have the green light from upper management or an organisational leader, the project team involved will have too much to prove and too little mandate to prove it.

The agenda of the kick-off meeting should provide answers to the following questions: 

  • What business opportunities are addressed?
  • What expertise and mandate is needed in the project team?

Drawing the line: The scope of the pilot

It is often too gratifying to be ambitious in a pilot however the best condition for success is carving the scope to be as limited as possible. When the whys and whats are covered, the design of the how starts with the following question: 

  • What is the most limited scope to test whether the priority can be addressed and how

Definitions can include the smaller possible assortment, the smallest team possible, the shortest time possible. In a multiple-solution test pilot, the team needs to ensure that all solutions address the same priority and are measured with the same metrics. Three questions highlight the scalable, efficient solution: 

  • How hard is it with Solution A and Solution B?
  • How long does it take with Solution A and Solution B?
  • What data and insight quality do Solution A and Solution B provide?

Responding to these questions in a representative way at the end of the pilot depends on 3 parameters:

a)   The answers lie in both leadership and the technical Ensuring that both perspectives are involved in identifying the same business opportunities and risks is imperative.

b)   The answers determine whether the tested solutions can address the risks and opportunities.

   The answers finally define what to prioritise – the how and ultimately the scope of the pilot.

In the context of food products and emissions management, there are 3 possible priority outcomes from this meeting, they are all correct and can be scale-tested in a few months. 

  • Emissions from suppliers are a priority.
  • Our own product line is a priority.
  • Both are equally of equal priority.

Once the strategic questions have been clarified, the next stage is the design of the pilot. For retailers with a pinned-down strategy, check out CarbonCloud’s Handbook for Retailers on designing an emissions reduction pilot that succeeds in transforming your operations.