Supply chain visibility is essential to modern success, but according to Supply Chain Dive, as few as 6% of companies have achieved full supply chain visibility. The problems existing within supply chain visibility go back to issues with tracking shipments after shipping to consumers. At the same time, supply chain visibility and transparency rank as the third-leading priorities for supply chains in 2018. Meanwhile, business-to-business (B2B) customers continue to demand more transparency in their supply chains, as evidenced by grocers looking to increase traceability within fresh food and produce supply chains. To stay competitive, modern supply chain managers need to understand the importance of boosting supply chain visibility to increase overall success.

Improved Supply Chain Visibility Builds Customer Trust

Increasing customer trust with a company’s brand and products are vital aspects of today’s supply chain management, but it comes with unique challenges. Systems must have the capability to share data freely, and with the rising complexity of modern supply chains, data sharing can be problematic. Moreover, data sharing is only as valuable as the timeliness of data, so the demand for real-time information has grown dramatically. Additionally, CH Robinson reports that interruptions within the supply chain and inabilities to manage data continue to present challenges in achieving supply chain visibility.

Increased Visibility Leads to Sustainable Supply Chain Functions

Today’s consumers are socially conscious and skeptical of big businesses, and they will not hesitate to move onward to more sustainable companies. The logistics operation of one company, especially if those operations do not follow sustainable practices, could push customers further toward your competitors. MIT reports sustainability must include productive, environmentally friendly conditions for workers, and end-to-end visibility in all environments from raw materials through delivery. Research shows that 75% of supply chain leaders think visibility and transparency are crucial to their achieving sustainable business practices and building trust with their consumers. In a sense, everything in modern supply chain management goes back to social responsibility.

Visibility Contributes to Higher Profitability

When consumers fully trust an organization, they are more likely to return to that business for repeat purchases. Today’s consumers are naturally skeptical and want more than just empty promises. Supply chains must evolve to provide both improved visibility into the supply chain for consumers and corporate transparency. It is not enough to create visibility throughout an organization internally; it must be visible to consumers.

Meanwhile, the benefits deriving from supply chain visibility offer additional advantages. Improvements in visibility reduce operating costs, and those cost savings can be used to increase pay wages for workers. Although it appears unrelated, increasing pay for workers will boost trust-driven sales due to its impact on consumer skepticism. Your employees are also human beings, and their experience with your company will make it into the realm of social media. In today’s world driven by social media, any missteps on your part can be extremely damaging to your company’s reputation. Therefore, those that improve supply chain visibility and create an enhanced working environment for employees will see improvements in profitability and public perception.

Improvements to Increase Supply Chain Visibility Have a Natural Implication for Efficiency and Productivity

Gains in supply chain visibility mean an organization has taken the necessary steps to track and trace more information about each shipment from manufacturing through final delivery. Organizations should go even further to improve visibility by tracking products beyond the final sale. The supply chain should also track that the products perform as expected upon delivery, and if necessary, monitor any possible returns through the reverse logistics supply chain. Tracking the movements of goods and processes from the kick-off of the supply chain (procurement) to the end (reverse logistics) provides an immense value gained for consumers, and more information is power. By tracking more information about a product’s full lifecycle from manufacturing through recycling or reclamation, organizations can prove the value and benefits of their products. It creates a win-win scenario for all involved. As the Internet of Things (IoT) connects shippers with more data,  companies will gain additional insights and lower risk. 

What Does the Future Hold for Supply Chain Visibility?

The future of supply chain visibility is proactively managing a shipment at any point in the process to mitigate risk and exceptions, explains Martin Hubert of Inbound Logistics. Automation within the supply chain will naturally increase orders, quotations, and route optimization processes. As a result, supply chain partners should work together to manage orders proactively, reducing delays, and increasing speed to market. Meanwhile, advanced technologies, including blockchain and cloud-based transportation management systems (TMS) are leveling the playing field to provide the same resources to businesses of all sizes. Today is an exciting time for supply chain management, and as technologies continue to evolve, companies can reap more significant benefits.

If you’d like to learn more about our blockchain-based solution to increase supply chain visibility, request a demo from us today.