What is Supply Chain Visibility?
In the broadest sense, supply chain visibility, or SCV, is the ability of a company to identify and track every piece of their product line from the beginning of its production life cycle, to the moment it’s sold to the end user. In practice, this means having information and insight into raw material acquisition, production and manufacturing, storage and distribution, all the way to last mile delivery and, if necessary, the return and second life process.
To many businesses out there, this may seem like a daunting, if not impossible, challenge. With most of today’s marketplaces dominated by e-commerce, as well as heavily influenced by globalization, maintaining a competitive supply chain is becoming ever more complex and nuanced. Compiling information from each individual link in the chain as products move from manufacturing to distribution, across international boundaries and informational silos, may seem to some decision makers out there as a lost cause, and potentially not even worth the effort.
But there is hope. Technology is rising to the challenge, and helping to mitigate the increasing complexity of the global supply chain. Utilizing the latest in digital innovation, businesses can now gain visibility into massive amounts of actionable data from any number of sources, and turn those insights into decisions that can make or break their annual budgets. Before we dive into some of the capabilities of today’s latest advanced logistics platforms though, let’s briefly discuss why companies need them, now more than ever.
Benefits of Increased SCV
Working in the fog of outdated communication systems and manual processes, it may be difficult for many decision makers to even know what they’re missing. Greater supply chain visibility is helpful, if not essential, to today’s businesses in the following ways:
These days, companies are sourcing items from, and shipping items to, each and every part of the world. Having the ability to not only receive information from all the various sources along that chain, but to pull the data together into actionable insights, can be the difference in anticipating and weathering a materials shortage or demand hike, or being caught off guard and losing out.
As logistical complexity grows, so too does financial complexity. Assessing accurate shipping and delivery rates, along with accessorial fees and warehousing/labor costs, can only be done with proper supply chain visibility. If you’re not measuring it, you can’t budget for it, and your bottom line will be the one to suffer.
Consumers these days expect to be able to get what they want, when they want it, and to receive easy, real-time updates on it at every step along the way. Besides the cost saving advantages that greater supply chain visibility can provide companies themselves, that same level of visibility can be passed on directly to customers, to increase satisfaction and retention levels.
Getting products to your customers in a timely and efficient manner only matters if the product itself is received well. Having visibility into lost or damaged packages, and a reliable and accurate claims process, can help ensure that when you ship a product, it will have the desired impact. At the other end of the spectrum, greater visibility into your own procurement and manufacturing process can help maintain quality and production values, making sure you know where every piece of your product comes from.
Types of SCV
Now that we know how increased supply chain visibility can help, how do we get there? As mentioned previously, it’s not feasible to have logistics departments pulling all of this information in manually from disparate informational silos across the globe. Luckily for businesses everywhere, the Digital Revolution is well under way, and quickly creating technological solutions to these complex problems.
Today’s advanced logistics platforms can pull real-time data from any number of sources, and compile that composite information into an easy to use, centralized control tower. Below are just some of the ways that an advanced logistics platform can increase visibility.
Understanding the true landed cost of a product is crucial to establishing accurate budgets and determining profit margins, and today’s advanced logistics platforms can pull rates directly from the carrier’s websites, and then calculate those charges down to the penny level for each individual shipment.
Products these days often times travel around the world, on multiple modes to numerous destinations, and it takes a state-of-the-art logistics platform to keep up. The latest technology suites provide real-time location and status updates on containers, truckloads and pallets, and help business keep up with customer demand and get ahead of any potential delays.
Mistakes happen, and the only way to make it right for your company and your customer is to have proper visibility into the incident. Advanced logistics platforms can track issues that arise during shipping and notify shippers, along with identifying any rate errors by the carriers along the way. Being able to look back confidently, and use that data in the present moment to save money or repair relationships, is the true benchmark of any SCV technology.
It’s time to start seeing what you’re missing. Reach out to us at ZDSCS for a Free Consult today, and we’ll show you how.