Supply Chain Visibility: From Guessing Game to Supply Chain Optimization

Grant WrightBlog

Grant Wright
By Grant Wright
Global Vice President
Consulting Services

Supply chain leaders regularly find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They are tasked with ensuring the right products are in the right place at the right time. Yet from the moment a PO is issued until that order has reached the retailer’s warehouse, supply chain visibility has traditionally been limited when products are in the hands of third-parties, manufacturers, freight forwarders, consolidators, customs brokers, etc. And too often, retailers lack visibility into the status of products as they move through the supply chain.

As a result, supply chain leaders often find it difficult, even impossible, to know when to expect delivery and how this will affect store and online inventories, given the delays and disruptions that inevitably occur. Trying to gain insight ends up being a frustratingly manual process involving spreadsheets, phone calls, emails, and guesstimates.

But what if you had more accurate supply chain visibility across that journey? In the face of delays and disruptions, you could take proactive actions toward supply chain optimization that contribute to the bottom line in many ways. For example, you could:

  • Improve customer service. Increase customer satisfaction with more accurate availability dates.
  • Increase inventory turnover and profits. Proactively avoid stockouts by splitting orders, delay markdowns when delivery of new products is delayed, and more.
  • Improve partner service. Track partner performance, and make strategic decisions accordingly.
  • Optimize warehouse staffing. Rightsize staffing to receive orders with more accurate insight into delivery dates.

Fortunately, a supply chain visibility solution at scale is now within reach. But first, let’s diagnose the challenges and what it takes to overcome them.

Logistical Black Hole

The logistical “black hole”

Why are so many supply chain leaders still dependent on guesstimates? In a word, it’s complicated. Supply chains are complicated. Juggling multiple third-party stakeholders is complicated. Above all, trying to gain insight from a range of disparate, third-party systems is problematic because of:

  • Multiple systems of record, each responsible for only part of the process
  • Inconsistent quality of data across these systems
  • Significant lags in the availability of data
  • Lack of insight into key milestones due to a lack of visibility across systems

To make up for these challenges, supply chain analysts have to juggle multiple internal and third-party systems to track shipments, landed costs, receipts, distribution, and more. Then they often have to manually update data across multiple systems. They also regularly end up resorting to phone calls and emails to get the information they need. And to manage the process, they rely on spreadsheets.

And even after all that work, they often have to make key decisions based on incomplete, stale and even inaccurate data!

Supply chain visibility at scale—and how to get there

Before we consider how to overcome the technical challenges that supply chain decision-makers face, let’s define their ultimate goal. What they really need is an accurate, complete, realtime picture of inventory & orders, plus automated, intelligent alerts to identify the high-priority issues that require their attention.

So how do you create such a supply chain visibility solution without having to rip-and-replace all your current systems? You need three critical capabilities:

  • Real-time data acquisition. You need to gather real-time (or near real-time data) data from multiple systems via API and integrate disparate data into a single snapshot for decision makers.
  • Decision-making engine. You need an engine that calculates correct inventory & order information and creates timely alerts when reality diverges from set plans.
  • Enterprise application integration (EAI). To harvest and combine all the necessary data, workflows, and solutions together, you need an architecture that enables secure intra- and inter-enterprise collaboration.

Supply Chain Control Center

A control tower for supply chain visibility

With these three capabilities in place, your supply chain visibility solution can gather and unify real-time data from internal solutions, vendor data, and third-party systems. You can then present key metrics and alerts in a unified hub, so that decision-makers can take timely action to make efficient inventory decisions, increase margins and improve customer satisfaction. And you can do so without having to rip and replace any of your existing systems.

Logic has worked with a range of clients wanting to remove the supply chain visibility void. Based on that experience, we’ve built a supply chain visibility solution that closes the gap without requiring you to rip or replace your existing systems. In fact, you can keep all of your preferred systems intact and increase your visibility over time with three potential deployment options. It’s called Supply Chain Visibility Hub.

To learn more, read the Logic Supply Chain Visibility Hub datasheet now.
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