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Broadly, supply chain visibility refers to how easily one can track the movement of parts and products as they are manufactured and transported to their final location. Supply chain visibility is critically important as it allows customers, manufacturers, and others involved in the supply chain to see where items might be experiencing delays.
This practice improves transparency and trust, enabling everyone involved in the supply chain to have peace of mind that no one is deliberately trying to hide information. In the past, visibility in the supply chain relied on the use of spreadsheets and other more primitive means. However, these tools are rapidly becoming obsolete as the world moves toward a more digital model.
One example of this shift is the existence of LPaaS platforms.
When it comes to the digital supply chain, visibility becomes even more important to maintain trust between involved parties. This is especially true in the age of Covid-19, a time when everyone wants to know exactly where products are at all times.
In this article, we will examine the top 5 reasons why visibility is vitally important to the digital supply chain and some considerations to make moving forward into the digital age.
Digital supply chain visibility can lead to improved work efficiency and greater profitability, plain and simple. New, digital tools to achieve visibility should be considered in place of outdated ones moving forward in a post-Covid world. The following is not an exhaustive list of all benefits as they apply to visibility in the digital supply chain, but provides some general insight as to why maintaining visibility is so important.
As is always the case: “the easiest problem to fix, is the one that was prevented in the first place.” When all individuals involved in the supply chain can see where potential issues or current problems are developing, it is much easier to address these issues before they become full-blown disasters.
Aside from the stress it will remove for your team, decreasing interruptions at any level within a shipment's journey through your supply chain is going to result in an increase in customer loyalty.
With increased visibility, you’ll be able to make adjustments as needed in order to maintain profitability. Things change quickly in the digital age, and being able to respond with the proper tools for the job will help everyone involved in the supply chain feel more comfortable with the processes involved.
Visibility provides the ability to know when things are going to happen throughout the supply chain, you can make decisions more quickly as opposed to when you would have had to wait in the past for updates. For example, if you see that your product is traveling to you and will arrive within the next day, you can create space and be ready to receive the product ahead of time.
In the digital age, customers want to be able to order and receive products as quickly as possible. However, when this isn’t possible, they want to at the very least know where their products are. With excellent visibility, you can keep your customers apprised of the whole process from manufacture to shipment so that they can know exactly when to expect delivery and plan accordingly.
Visibility opens up numerous new streams of data that might have once been invisible to you and can now be used in analysis and in planning for future processes and optimization strategies. All members of the supply chain can effectively utilize this data to speed up transactions and fine-tune processes in each of their respective roles moving forward.
As many businesses adapted to the new climate caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, various technologies emerged that significantly changed visibility as related to the supply chain. One such advancement is the “supply chain control tower.”
This technology advancement serves to consolidate data from all portions of the supply chain and translate the data into easy-to-act-upon reports that can be utilized by entities within the said supply chain.
Other interesting technologies have also emerged, but even more important than the technologies to solve the problems supply chains face is being able to identify the root cause of these issues. Instead of immediately purchasing a new technology when problems arise, attempt to pinpoint exactly why the issue is occurring in the first place.
The solution may be more simple and more affordable than investing in a new program that may not solve the root issue anyway.
Technological advancements are happening at a rapid pace throughout all different aspects of supply chains. Before 2020, it was still possible to use older means of providing visibility in supply chains. But now, in 2021 and beyond, it will be nearly impossible for companies to keep up with competitors and customer demands if said companies aren’t identifying pain points and using the latest technology to address them.