Here’s how global supply chain transparency helps companies attract new customers and keep their current buyers happy.
When consumers buy from companies that provide high levels of supply chain transparency, they’re willing pay anywhere from 2% to 10% more for products. That statistic comes from MIT, which talked to consumer about issues like the treatment of workers in the product supply chain, the seller’s efforts to help improve those conditions, product ingredients, materials used, and where products come from.
According to MIT, all shippers should be thinking about two different aspects of supply chain transparency. They are:
• Visibility: Accurately identifying and collecting data from all links in your supply chain.
• Disclosure: Communicating that information, both internally and externally, at the level of detail required or desired.
Put simply, when they know what’s happening “upstream” in your supply chain—and when that information is communicated both internally and externally—customers aren’t afraid to shell out a bit more money for their orders. This mindset has made its way into the B2B space, where bulk and break-bulk companies are being asked to provide more information and data about their processes, products, and policies.
We’ve Come a Long Way
In addition to wanting to know that their products have been sourced responsibly, and that the people making them are being treated fairly, customers also want to know exactly when and where their orders are at any point in the supply chain. This puts new pressures on B2B companies, which weren’t part of the initial “Amazon-incited” push to get orders fulfilled and out the door within hours (or even minutes) of receiving an order. Over time, the same expectations made their way into the B2B space (after all, business buyers are also consumers themselves).
Consider this: Twenty years ago, manufacturers could ship out customer orders on the day that they promised to ship those orders. It didn’t have to be on the same day that the order was received. It just had to be on the day that the customer was expecting the order to ship. Customers were happy, they received their orders within their expected timeframes, and they came back for more when they needed to reorder.
Fast-forward to today and the scenario couldn’t be any more different than it was in 2000. Today, companies are expected to hit 30-60-minute fulfillment windows. Credit the customers’ “lean” inventory approaches with creating at least some of the urgency, for without a lot of stock to pull from, buyers are pushing more inventory back to their suppliers.
5 Ways to Put Transparency to Work
The good news is that with good global supply chain transparency, shippers can meet these demands, hit those tighter delivery windows, and maintain their own profitability levels. Here are five ways transparency supports all of these goals:
1) Accurately answers the question, “where’s my stuff?” Your customers know that the technology needed to track their orders from point of origin to destination exists, so why wouldn’t you put it to good use? Challenged to meet smaller and smaller delivery windows, shippers need a global supply chain transparency platform that tracks the information and distributors in real-time, and with little or no human intervention.
2) Utilizes actionable information. Today’s shippers have to be able to map out their supply chains, and collect information on practices and performance that provides insights about potential risks, opportunities for improvement, and information gaps. They can then turn around and use that actionable information to make incremental customer service improvements. “A company may need to track and profile units, batches, or lots of finished goods moving through the supply chain to ensure source of origin and chain of custody,” HBR points out.
3) Helps identify problems quickly. Global supply chain transparency helps managers quickly recognize operational inefficiencies and work to rectify these problems. So, rather than waiting for a report to come out at the end of the month, supply chain managers can detect and react to issues immediately. This helps enhance B2B customer loyalty and establishes the shipper as a proactive organization that gets things done (versus waiting for things to get done).
4) Saves on transportation costs. It’s not unusual for bulk and break-bulk cargo users to run out of product and not realize it until it’s too late. Shippers wind up having to jump through hoops to expedite shipments and get products into their customers’ hands as soon as possible. With good supply chain transparency, the same shipper would have fair warning about the outage and been able to ship it earlier, use the lowest-cost mode/carrier, and save significant money on transportation costs.
5) Helps your customers rest easier at night. Your customers want to know that they are procuring high-quality, authentic, safe goods that will meet or exceed their expectations. Good supply chain transparency helps them understand that their suppliers, materials, and products will meet all of those expectations (and more). It also shows that your company complies with the rules and regulations, and that its raw materials can be readily traced back through the production and acquisition process.
Supply Chain Transparency Pays Off
IntelliTrans’ Global Control Tower provides high levels of supply chain transparency; aggregates, completes, and enhances data from a variety of sources; offers visibility into and execution of different aspects of the supply chain; and generates data-driven alerts and analytics that ask deeper questions and deliver meaningful insights.
By leveraging tracking information, the Global Control Tower provides analytics that measures key performance indicators (KPIs) like fleet cycle time, origin/destination dwell time, lane and hauler performance, back orders, freight spend, load optimization, and more. With their rate, equipment, lease, tracking, and invoice data in a central repository that’s accessible 24/7, companies can position themselves for success in any market conditions.