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Published Article

The Ultimate Guide to Supply Chain Visibility

Inxeption Editorial Team | Published 1-15-2020 | Modified 11-5-2020

If you struggle when it comes to maintaining full visibility of your business supply chains, you are not alone. It can be challenging to maintain this visibility, all while making smart decisions about resource needs, logistics, and more. Current-day advancements in technology, and the broad digitization of business commerce, have made it so that businesses require new levels of communication and transparency when it comes to their supply chains.

What is supply chain visibility?

Supply chain visibility is when suppliers, partners, customers, and other stakeholders who play different roles within a supply chain, operate in a centralized location and are informed as to the movement of goods and services in real time.

Supply chain visibility technology, or systems that bring these components together, can allow business departments to share information in a secure manner. It also enables streamlined planning, execution and analysis of business processes. It’s important that whatever system you choose to use for your business allows for up-to-date, real-time changes and facilitates collaboration across groups.

Why does supply chain visibility matter?

A recent study done by ARC advisory group, an international technology research organization, concluded that supply chain visibility and collaboration is one of the fastest growing supply chain markets, specifically for B2B businesses. With the competition amongst businesses to be technologically savvy, as well as the increase in B2B commerce online and on a global scale, supply chain visibility has become more important than ever.

In the Geodis 2017 Supply Chain Worldwide Survey, 70% of firms stated that their supply chains are “very” or “extremely” complex. Customers want better and faster service. With ecommerce growing rapidly and many businesses in the B2B sector and B2C sector coming online, cutting through the clutter means accommodating for customer needs more effectively.

What can a business do to accomplish this and prepare for the future?

  1. The buyer expectation for B2B ecommerce is that ordering, delivery and management of orders is as easy as it is for B2C purchases. Having a more streamlined supply chain allows for more efficient operations, especially between sales, shipping, management, and delivery to the end buyer.
  2. Firms must cut costs and mitigate risks. By having a better understanding of your overall operations landscape, as well as your inventory, materials and transportation cost, you can better spot inefficiencies in your supply chain and trim the fat to improve processes. This means using your business as a data source for big data analytics turning the raw material and vast volume of data into business insights and actions. Some tools even use machine learning or AI to create this business intelligence using multiple types of data from inventory management systems.
  3. Analyze and improve for scale and future growth. Having a streamlined supply chain with integrated data in live time will enable your business to better forecast for future trends and needs within the landscape, based on what you are seeing among your customers and sales.

How is supply chain visibility made possible?

Supply chain visibility can be accomplished through the use of supply chain planning applications and cloud based collaboration tools. There are many platforms that combine certain parts of the supply chain to make this visibility easier, and one or a few might be the best solution for your business’ size and needs.

What is cloud collaboration technology and what does it have to do with my supply chain?

Cloud-based collaboration is the ability to collaborate between the customer, supplier, and logistics providers through a portal hosted in the cloud (or digitally). Data can be accessed at any time from any place (computers, mobile devices, tablets, etc.) that any partner or stakeholder might be using.

Using a cloud based portal allows for the real time changes and collaboration required to keep supply chain operations moving smoothly, as well as can help to quickly evaluate and resolve any pressing issues within the business.

Benefits of using a cloud based collaboration software

In general...

  • Instant, web-based access to vital product information
  • The ability to address customer needs with real time visibility
  • Options to better find and address inefficiencies
  • Lower labor and resource costs
  • Improved analytics through big data

On the order side...

  • Business owners or suppliers can see the orders that are waiting to be filled, which will inform how product and inventory schedules need to be aligned to meet the customer demand.
  • Suppliers can collaborate with customers so they are both on the same page about expected delivery times, product availability dates, etc.
  • If changes occur to any part of the process, the information is updated in real time.

In logistics planning...

  • Visibility between a business and a carrier and logistics solution. Having these components integrated into a single system allows the business owners, suppliers, and carriers to be aligned regarding delivery times and delays.

For the business owner...

  • With these systems integrated, the business owner who needs to ship product to customers can be assured that everything runs smoothly, and if there are glitches in operations, the system is updated to reflect these warehouse logistics, inventory management information, and can provide an analysis tool. This is a benefit for warehouse managers, business owners, and end customers when it comes to receiving shipments.
What are the challenges associated?

Supply chain visibility is a win-win when it comes to aligning departments of an organization and making sure processes are running smoothly. The main challenge is that supply chain visibility can be difficult to put into action without the right resources. Small businesses owners to enterprise users find challenges that may require business analysis tools or business process modeling to resolve.

There are many products and tools that accomplish components of this process, so it’s all about finding the right one for your business. The actual implementation and organization of a supply chain resource relies heavily on collaboration, investment, and bandwidth within the organization to put the system in place and optimize it for business requirements. Business analysis techniques and requirement management can mitigate these challenges through data visualization as well as a project plan.

How does Inxeption fit into my supply chain?

Inxeption is a secure and scalable platform that brings business the ease of consumer e-commerce. From one digital dashboard, drive sales, manage your supply chain, and realize cost savings. Inxeption is one component of the supply chain, specifically in terms of product information management, selling and logistics.