According to a 2021 study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, more than half of companies lack end-to-end visibility into their supply chains. This lack of visibility is one of the biggest challenges in logistics today. Not knowing the exact status of an order or shipment involves many risks. It can turn your supply chain into a cost center, whereas it should – and could be – a strategic asset. This article discusses why end-to-end visibility matters and how it can transform your supply chain into a competitive advantage.
With end-to-end visibility, companies gain a complete and up-to-date picture of their supply chain. Each step of the way, logistics teams can track the status of their orders and shipments and monitor their progress against the original schedule and budget. In addition, they can detect and anticipate problems further down the supply chain. Combining real-time status information with predictive data produces end-to-end visibility. In the coming years, investing in the processes and tools to gain this kind of granular insight into one's supply chain will become increasingly important. Even inevitable. Here's why:
Consumers and stakeholders increasingly demand to know the status of their shipments. They want to stay in the know about the location of their shipment and when it is expected to arrive. If their shipment is delayed, they want to be notified. The importance of visibility has extended to the B2B industry as well. According to a study conducted in France by the Generix Group in partnership with the Institute of Commerce in February 2020, 31% of companies see real-time visibility as key to keeping their promises to their customers.
Today's world is increasingly complex and interconnected. Supply chains are becoming longer. Managing your supply chain therefore involves aligning with an ever-growing number of stakeholders, from suppliers to ocean carriers, to keep shipments on track. When disruptions occur in one step of the supply chain, it causes a ripple effect. End-to-end visibility, powered by real-time data on each step of the supply chain, helps companies detect risks and adapt before problems occur.
In addition to helping companies detect immediate risks, from production delays to weather-related incidents, visibility can help companies identify inherent supply chain risks and develop contingency plans. Structural problems rise to the surface, whether related to the performance of your suppliers or the inherent complexity of the markets you're active in. When you understand your vulnerabilities, you can strengthen your defenses. By developing contingency plans for high-risk steps in your supply chain, you gain back control in even the most challenging situations.
The logistics sector is a significant contributor to carbon emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, the transport sector has the highest reliance on fossil fuels of any sector. Understanding the current state of your supply chain allows you to optimize container loads and shipping routes, each of which has a significant impact on your carbon footprint. Becoming more sustainable is not just the right thing to do for the planet. Increased legislation is putting pressure on companies to change their supply chain practices. Visibility offers a starting point for adopting more sustainable practices. On top of that, the sustainability of your practices is increasingly impacting consumer and investor decisions.
By gaining visibility into the current state of your supply chain, you can begin to optimize. The study Mitigating Supply Chain Risk Through Improved Confidence points out that uncertainty in a supply chain results in decision risks. Without the right data, companies cannot design the optimal supply chain, leading to higher costs and other inefficiencies. Visibility reveals waste, such as unnecessary steps in your supply chain. This is especially powerful in combination with real-time data, allowing you to measure the impact of each change you make on year lead times, costs, and even team productivity, putting you on a path for continuous optimization.
There are clear benefits to investing in the tools and processes to generate end-to-end visibility. By gaining complete insight into your supply chain, from factory to store, you can turn your supply chain into a strategic asset, a well-oiled machine that promotes customer loyalty, helps your company manage disruptions more effectively, and reduces inefficiencies.