In the global logistics environment, everyone is talking about supply chain visibility and control. Supply chain visibility simply means having the right information, when you need it, so you can act on it. Getting this information is a challenge, or near on impossible when you don’t have the right systems to support you.

It used to be that supply chains were simple; linear with few moving parts. Globalization, increased competition, demanding consumers, omnichannel distribution, emerging markets, and out-sourced and off-shore manufacturing all layer up to make it more difficult to monitor the multiple moving parts in your supply chain networks. A recent industry* study of 623 supply chain professionals from 17countriess found;
• Supply chain visibility was the 3rd most important priority in 2017, up from #6 in 2015
• 70% of businesses agreed their supply chains were very complex
• But only 6% said that they had full visibility of their end to end process*

Visibility is a critical element to optimizing your supply chain logistics. Without it, you expose your business to enormous risk. So why do so few businesses have it! And why is it so hard?

COMPLEXITY

Firstly, the reason visibility is so important is also the very reason it so hard to implement – it’s complicated!
Globalization: The world is your oyster, but first you have to manage transport logistics, accommodate different cultural preferences, standards, and expectations and myriad legal and regulatory issues. Even fostering relationships with international suppliers and agents can be challenging and time-consuming.
The customer: Not only do customers expect to receive their products in shorter and shorter timeframes, but they also want choice when it comes to how and when those products are delivered. Paradoxically (and a little ironically), adding to the complexity is the customers’ demand for visibility over their deliveries. Witness the omnichannel revolution.
Your business: Many issues within your supply chain come from the way your business works. Some organizations require custom processes with specialized suppliers, which can make your supply chain less flexible and agile.
Consider this:
• multiple suppliers…
• manufacturing different components…
• using varied shipping methods…
• working under diverse government regulatory & security protocols…
• servicing multiple markets requiring a choice of delivery methods.

INFORMATION GAPS

Flexible supply chain logistics allow you to make the quick, informed decisions crucial in a demanding business environment. Timely and relevant data is the route of the flexibility. But if your data is old or incomplete, Then it’s likely the information you’re relying on is inaccurate. You could be putting your business at risk by compounding inefficiencies and errors, instead of solving them.
A transparent and efficient flow of information to the right people down to SKU level from origin to destination and integrating all that data into a Single Source of Truth is the holy grail.
But how? Closing the gap in the information is a vital first step in creating visibility.

THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY

With systems that monitor the status of an order over its lifecycle and produce real-time alerts at key milestones decision making is as easy as pushing a button – well almost.
A word of warning though…. While timely, accurate and complete information will provide supply chain managers with insight, too much data can put just as much pressure on the supply chain. Too many details and all you’ll see is a logistical forest, with no path through. Getting the information mix right is essential.

THE RIGHT KIND OF EXPERTISE

Data and technology are not the be all and end all. Relationships count. Having the right people and partners overseeing your logistics end-to-end are your real eyes and ears. Years of experience and the specialist expertise that comes with it help you identify the information you need and ensure you get it, all the while ensuring the streamlining of your processes and deliveries.

DON’T GET LOST IN THE FOREST

Fickle and increasingly demanding consumers, accelerated industry pace, reduced foot-traffic, new business models, omnichannel and digitalisation, and rising costs are impacting retailers across Australia and NZ. A lack of visibility in your supply chain only exacerbates this and restricts your ability to execute contingencies.
There are also the costs of inefficient inventory management – increased transport, warehousing, and staffing costs all hit your bottom line.
It all adds up to a poor customer experience, but that’s not where it ends.
Mess up too many times and you start to lose orders and your market share. Ultimately this affects your reputation. If your competitor has better visibility over their supply chain, maybe they’ll get your next order.

We’ll be exploring visibility further in our next article including insights around the barriers to creating it and their solutions. In the meantime, call our team on 1300 651 888 or email info@maglog.com.au for a confidential discussion on how Magellan can help you navigate the forest of supply chain visibility.

*Geodis, 2017