logisticstechoutlook

According to my Uber Driver, Supply Chain is Important!

Deanna Kaufman, Vice President Sales, enVista

Deanna Kaufman, Vice President Sales, enVista

The inner workings of the supply chain have become more of a conversation among the average consumer than ever before. Why? After a year and a half of disruption to the movement of goods around the globe, customers have begun to value understanding of and visibility into the products they are ordering and their location throughout the entire supply chain process.

The average consumer’s increased interest in the supply chain surrounds three main areas: choice, convenience, and control.

  • Choice – Availability of the products they want, when and where they want them
  • Convenience –Shipping and delivery options that suit their day-to-day lives
  • Control – Full visibility into and control over the shipping process

This isn’t only the case for consumers, though. Consumer-based norms are also carrying over to the B2B landscape, meaning organizations of all kinds need to have a strategy around inbound and outbound logistics.

Technology is a critical piece of the inbound and outbound visibility puzzle. The three most important technologies for an organization to master visibility are an order management system (OMS), transportation management system (TMS), and warehouse management system (WMS).

Inbound Visibility

Although inbound visibility is focused more on the supplier-vendor relationship, it is no less important than logistics visibility to the end customer. When monitoring the inbound logistics process, organizations should ask themselves if they are receiving full visibility, including shipment acknowledgment, load planning, and all the necessary information around receiving the goods.

Typically consumer-based values for visibility are not-so-slowly drifting into the B2B relationship, meaning suppliers and vendors need to have as a solid line of communication as vendors have with their end customers. Selecting the right software systems is critical in ensuring that full visibility is achieved.

“Technology is a critical piece of the inbound and outbound visibility puzzle.”

Key Technology

For inbound logistics, a transportation management system (TMS) will provide a direct line of visibility between the supplier and the vendor giving the vendor access to all the information it needs regarding its shipment. It is typical in trade to use trade management systems or ERPs to conduct the purchase negotiation of goods. Once the purchase is agreed upon, the TMS takes over and helps make the right routing decisions for the goods and designates mode and service for the shipments. The TMS then acts as the system of record around supplier provided tracking numbers and bills of lading which can be reconciled during the shipping process and give the vendor the ability to gain visibility from carriers.

Outbound Visibility

Outbound logistics is equally as important as inbound, as the success of your outbound strategy can have an immense impact on customer satisfaction and retention. A main goal here is to avoid a ‘Where is My Order’ (WISMO) situation with your customers. Giving the customer a sense of control via visibility into their order’s path is critical. When creating your outbound logistics plan, every step of the way you should be asking yourself if you are providing full visibility and the ability for the consumer to act upon that information to the target audience and if you are doing so proactively.

So, what does it look like to proactively provide visibility to your target audience? This is where technology comes into play.

Key Technology

Organizations commonly leverage a combination of order management, transportation management, and warehouse management software to maintain consistent visibility into the shipments. Each system will play its own crucial role at different points in the order process.

  • Order Management System – Takes the order
  • Transportation Management System – Chooses the best route for the order shipment
  • Warehouse Management System – Manages fulfillment acknowledgment and planning (This can also be done with a transportation management system)

Leveraging a combination of these technologies is key to successfully providing visibility to outbound orders every step of the way and creating a sustained competitive advantage in the market.

Conclusion

Technology is an integral part of the inbound and outbound logistics, especially when it comes to creating visibility for all parties involved. Whether it be a mature TMS for inbound logistics visibility or a combination of OMS, TMS, and WMS technology for outbound logistics visibility, all have an important role and should be considered when creating your overall transportation plan.

 

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