Challenging global markets and a recent unprecedented ‘super-peak’ period for retailers have amplified service expectations. As customer demands increase, the pressures on the supply chain becomes more complex. Furthermore, the need to move orders faster and more efficiently whilst facing an increasing shortage of labour is making it harder to meet service expectations.
In order to get the right product to the right place at the right time in the right condition (minimising environmental impact), a visible and agile supply chain network has never been so critical. In a recent independent European study of retail decision makers, 90% said that investing to improve supply chain visibility is a top priority for the next 24 months. Almost all agreed that supply chain visibility is a core enabler of transforming their supply chain. In fact, 87% agree that a fully visible supply chain with real-time updates would enable competitive advantage.
Can’t see it, can’t measure it, can’t manage it, can’t improve it
Without visibility of key supply chain events, you can’t measure, manage or improve processes. 71% of decision makers confirm that lack of supply chain visibility has had a negative effect on the business. Service levels, naturally, are of major concern but so are:
- Excessive inventory levels
- Increased waste
- Lost sales due to product unavailability
- Lack of real-time alerts to mitigate potential disruption
- In ability to quickly process returned products and return to stock
End to end visibility tackles these business-critical issues. For example, by knowing current inventory levels, sales can be maximised and waste reduced. However, across Europe, only 31% of organisations have full visibility of returns and just 30% have full visibility of goods in transit to customers. These operational blind spots, or silos, impact performance and act as a barrier to supplier collaboration.
Removing silos leads to a connected, collaborative and intelligent supply chain
The increasingly complex supply chain requires close collaboration with suppliers and partners. The reality is, they are an extension of your own corporate ethos so need to share your values to deliver in line with your promises. Collaboration is only possible with end to end visibility to harmonise a ‘single source of truth’, yet perceived data, systems and organisational barriers exist everywhere. Weak collaboration leads to missed, failed or late deliveries. Heed the “three strikes and out” rule where customers would consider not using a retailer again after three missed deliveries.
Silos occur when data – the lifeblood of the supply chain – is not shared effectively between systems, departments and suppliers. These silos are threatening efficiency, service levels and customer loyalty. They also slow innovation. For flawless delivery, supply chain managers need all critical data to hand in order to make sound (last-minute) decisions and become more agile.
A best-of-breed supply chain visibility solution connects departments and critical partners to remove silos and standardise actionable data. Sharing real-time events, inventory and forecasts based on actuals boosts performance, improves communication and means decisions can be made dynamically rather than operating on the back foot. This collaboration ensures issues are identified and addressed to minimise the ripple effect further along the supply chain. Alerts are managed by exception, allowing immediate corrective measures, prevent downtime and happier customers. Offering dynamic planning capabilities, leading cloud-powered solutions integrate seamlessly with existing systems such as your ERP, WMS or TMS without requiring re-engineering. The wealth of end to end data is easily interpreted on user-friendly dashboards, drilling down to a granular level of your own systems and partner systems. When faced with labour shortages, knowing key supplier data and ETAs improves workforce management and reduces idle time.
In addition, key performance indicators can be measured in real-time including:
- Goods in transit to customers
- Customer order fulfilment
- What goods are being despatched to store
- ETA of delivery to store
- Goods dispatched from supplier and variations.
By removing supply chain silos, collaboration and performance are inherently improved. When suppliers can view their own performance versus KPIs or SLAs, this transparency fosters long-term trust and transparency. Disputes are minimised or even eradicated as all parties gain a greater understanding of the bigger picture. Latent reporting methods can be replaced with real-time visibility of network-wide performance for improved KPI setting and measuring, such as dwell time, transit time and order variance. Agility and service levels are consequently optimised.
By removing supply chain silos, collaboration and performance are inherently improved.
You can only get it right first time, every time, with visibility
Now is the time to replace fragmented, legacy systems which allow silos and blind spots to accumulate. ‘Think big, start small and scale fast’ to create a vision of end-to-end supply chain visibility. Identify the priority areas where impactful wins can be achieved quickly, then harness this momentum and the insight from visibility to scale fast. Move from a reactive siloed supply chain to a proactive cross-enterprise supply chain and unlock competitive advantage.