The modern global supply chain industry has become extremely complicated. It doesn’t matter if logistics management services are outsourced or handled internally, or even if you do a bit of both, things always end up more complicated than expected. These roadblocks and inefficiencies keep companies from providing better customer service and also increases the costs for retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers. Supply chain visibility is a necessary tool to succeed in the current market.
Visibility could be defined as the ease in which all stakeholders – from suppliers, shippers, customers, as well as business partners are able to trace and track the shipment from when the order is placed, picked up, and finally delivered. The shipping data that supply chain visibility provides enables better business decisions every step of the way. This includes: the process of ordering, shipment modification, managing inventory, capital flow, and insights into potential risks with the shipment.
In order to achieve visibility, a wide range of logistics management tools and shipping software are required. They are bound to be even more developed thanks to digital transformation. Tools that take on the potential of big data and analytics: like advanced freight shipping or parcel shipping tracking devices, transportation management systems, and sensors are among those included. Professionals have an access to a great deal of real-time actionable shipping data from different sources which are essential in allowing to see better view of the supply chain.
The increasing tendency to outsource parcel and freight shipping management, as well as the emergence of the omni-channel consumer increased the complexity in the present-day supply chain. It is therefore a must to be both accurate and flexible. Consumers not only expect to place and pick up the order on time and ways most convenient to them, they also expect it to be on-time and accurate the first time around.
In order to achieve this, massive and diverse range of freight transportation is required. This means even bigger chances for disruption and this would require even stronger visibility. On-the-go or at rest, orders must be tracked in real-time to make sure customer expectations and service level agreements are complied with.
Obviously, interruptions are unavoidable. The key, however, is to respond as fast as you can. If immediately acted upon, damages can be minimized and associated expenses can be lessened. This isn’t achievable without supply chain visibility. It is a must that the professionals know where and what caused the trouble in delivery if they want to improve their logistics management. This allows them and their partners to gain insight and address the freight shipping problems accordingly. Putting up plan B also becomes easier, may it be in looking for an alternative supply source, re-routing, or resorting to the safety stock.
Aside from increased customer satisfaction, visibility from real-time updates from transportation and distribution channels also allow for better allocation of resources to improve logistics management strategies and optimize shipping software, freight shipping, and supply chain performance.
Another essential factor in navigating in the evolving supply chain landscape is collaboration among partners. Both parties require a clear look of what it takes to get from the current location to the destination, as well as the steps both are taking in order to get there. This is made possible through visibility tools. Cloud-based data management systems can help boost record-keeping, reduce documentation error, duplicate shipment or invoice reduction, and streamline communication. This is absolutely vital for global supply chains that need to follow transportation rules and trade regulations.
How can companies achieve an improved yet cost-efficient visibility? Some of the companies decide to invest in a shipping software platform that would handle the shipping data provided by the visibility. Then again, each company has its own needs unique to them. For small to mid-sized companies, outsourcing logistics management and shipping software IT to a 3PL may be a good enough of a solution. Others, on the other hand, may be able to use their own platform.
Whatever option a company chooses, it’s a must that they are able to monitor and evaluate data. It may seem almost impossible to know which choice is the best one with so many options available. Data analysis is getting faster with advancing shipping software like cloud-based TMS providing improved visibility.
It is a must that companies first clearly define what visibility means to them as well as their partners before picking a management system. It can be establishing KPIs and the roles the partners take in order to reach the goal, optimizing international tracking, or decreasing lead times. Knowing this allows the company to know which steps to take and which system will be the best for them and their logistics management solution.
It is indeed an expensive investment to establish an effective shipping software IT platform to improve logistics management supply chain visibility. However, the ROI for reduced costs and better performance makes it worth it. We can only expect the maze that is the current supply chain network to widen. Supply chain visibility can spell a brighter future for companies.