What Is Supply Chain Visibility?

The ability to see and track products as they travel through the supply chain, as well as the activities and operations that move them, is known as supply chain visibility.

Supply chain visibility allows business owners to understand the status, location, and movement of products at all stages of the supply chain, from production inventory sourcing through finished product delivery. You may learn exactly how things are moving and how operations are functioning throughout your whole supply chain with a lot of SCV.

How increasing supply chain visibility can help your business

Even if you think you have a decent handle on your supply chain operations, increasing supply chain visibility is never a bad idea. In fact, high SCV can help important functions in the following ways.

Improves efficiency

When you know exactly when, where, and how things move through the supply chain, it’s simple to spot inefficiencies and focus areas for improvement. The sooner a company can identify bottlenecks and delays in its supply chain, the faster those chain problems can be addressed to improve supply chain efficiency.

High SCV also increases your supply chain agility and resiliency, as having eyes on vital operations enables you to make changes more proactively in the face of new trends or unexpected disasters.

Reduces costs by minimizing waste

It’s simple to overspend, waste time, and miss chances for optimization if you are unaware of your product flow and operational capacity in the supply chain.

Supply chain intelligence — especially into inventory management, storage procedures, and shipping locations — can help a firm save money by pointing out areas where simple modifications might result in significant savings.

You can use inventory visibility to discover and liquidate deadstock, saving money on storage costs; likewise, you may utilize inventory visibility to store products in the most efficient way possible based on order destinations and transit times.

Real-time data = better decisions

Up-to-date supply chain software gives users real-time data for essential processes along the supply chain. With moment-to-moment insight, companies can make more educated decisions.

Real-time inventory tracking, for example, allows firms to have the most precise inventory counts possible and to know when and how much to replenish.

A company may also improve its ability to meet customer demand by tracking shipping destinations in real time.

The Challenges of increasing supply chain visibility

Many businesses are unaware that they’re hampered by a lack of supply chain visibility. Here are some major hurdles that e-commerce firms face in their attempts to achieve SVC.

COVID-19 uncertainties

The inability to gain and maintain supply chain visibility is made worse by supply chain disruptions, which makes it increasingly difficult for businesses to achieve and maintain supply chain visibility. The COVID-19 epidemic has wreaked havoc on the planet’s infrastructure for the previous two years (with cities around the world in a revolving cycle of locking down and reopening).

  • Freight containers are susceptible to delays and congestion at ports, which can lead to shortages and breakdowns in communication.
  • Shippers have been overwhelmed by huge booms in ecommerce sales, resulting in slower last-mile deliveries and tracking difficulties.
  • Varying national COVID requirements affect a company’s visibility into foreign supply chain participants, such as manufacturers, vendors, and/or distribution partners.
  • Outbreaks in factories, fulfillment centers, and other logistics hubs continue to occur, slowing down the shift call-off process and causing other team members to be tested.

In 2022, these roadblocks and impediments, when combined, will reduce visibility in even the most resilient supply chains by another seven weeks.

Siloed processes

Maintaining the level of communication that your firm had when it was smaller might be difficult when your company is expanding, especially if it’s growing quickly.

Although this is natural in some ways, having too little communication may lead your supply chain’s various phases to be compartmentalized, with each operation acting independently and forgetting to incorporate other sections of the supply chain.

Supply chains that do not invest in effective technology to assist supply chain operations as they expand face similar issues, which makes visibility even more difficult to gain (and leaves them susceptible to a supply chain crisis).

Communication loss is extremely harmful to supply chain visibility, since cross-functional cooperation, coordination, and information sharing are all necessary for a unified, coherent view of one’s supply chain.

Difficult to collect & access data across different sources

To have genuine supply chain visibility, critical data must not only be accessible but also interpreted in the proper light. In other words, vital statistics from various supply chain components need to be compiled into one location to construct a better picture of the entire supply chain.

The issue is that, as they develop and branch out into new channels, many ecommerce businesses end up utilizing various software, technologies, and tools to manage each channel. Unfortunately, none of these individual platforms offers a complete picture of a company’s entire supply chain.

The lengthy and complex procedure makes it difficult to move information from one platform to another as a result of the accidental loss that may occur.

Using outdated supply chain technology

Modern supply chain management methods and tools may not always be conducive to optimal supply chain visibility.

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In the worst-case scenario, outdated supply chain technology might actually obstruct your SCV, delaying updates, technical problems, and/or prevent you from performing basic activities.

Instead, companies should seek out more up-and-coming technologies and platforms that give instant access to comprehensive data insights.