How The Trucking Industry Can Improve Supply Chain Visibility
August 29, 2019
With real-time awareness of shipment status, supply chain partners can be proactive in finding solutions — and potentially avoid costly out-of-stock scenarios.
Out-of-stock scenarios represent significant problems that physical retailers can no longer afford. In the e-commerce era, consumers will simply move on to a competitor (often ordering the same product with same-day shipping from Amazon) — leaving the retailer with a lost sale opportunity. In response to this, retailers are increasingly levying expensive fines on suppliers that fail to meet their shipment deadlines. Even worse, they may choose to eventually shift business away from partners that can’t give them the visibility they need to remain agile. Trucking companies, in short, are left to bear the brunt of the blame when supply chain partners demand an answer to the question: What happened?
Although it may be temporarily satisfying to conduct forensics on missing stock situations, a real solution lies in looking ahead and implementing proactive, comprehensive solutions. That means finding strategies and software that enable robust supply chain visibility. Trucking companies and their customers are at a turning point. To provide consumers with competitive buying experiences and keep them from “jumping ship,” they must work together to generate visibility. Only then will retailers and trucking companies be able to take corrective action to avoid out-of-stock scenarios, excessive costs, and lost sales.
Visibility: What It Is & Why Trucking Companies Must Deliver
Visibility means information — delivered in real-time, in an actionable format, to only the relevant people who are capable of taking meaningful action in response. For trucking companies and their customers, visibility primarily means continuous insight into the location and status of trucks, workers, and cargo. With improved visibility, trucking and logistics companies can easily supply valuable information to both internal operations and external partners, including:
Trucks currently available for use, plus their locations
Any LTL trucks that could take on additional cargo
Current location of all in-process shipments
Current ETA for all shipments, as compared with acceptable delivery windows
Current condition of all shipments (temperature, damage, etc.)
Historically, this information hasn’t necessarily been shared among partners in the supply chain. In part, this was due to a competitive business instinct that left partners siloed, but it was largely because the technology wasn’t in place to seamlessly gather and share this data. Make no mistake: this technology is available now, and customer expectations have shifted as a result. There’s no technological reason that trucking companies should avoid leveraging data-driven capabilities. Generating the data needed for visibility — then sharing that data outside of traditional information silos — has the potential to transform how the supply chain does business.
How Trucking Companies Can Deliver Supply Chain Visibility
Visibility begins with information — but it doesn’t end there. It opens up a wealth of opportunities for partners in the supply chain to coordinate responses that produce real ROI. With greater visibility, everyone from truck drivers to retailers end up with improved control over the supply chain, happier customers, and healthier bottom lines.
It’s already become clear that retailers want more control over shipments. Several major companies have begun to impose strict fees designed to give them that control. Kroger charges $500 for late deliveries, while Walmart has implemented a fine for late, incomplete, and too-early shipments. These kinds of changes hike the pressure up throughout the supply chain, forcing suppliers to adapt. As the crucial middle link, trucking and logistics companies need better awareness of internal workflows to more effectively control their operations. Only then can they respond effectively on behalf of their customers, eliminate bottlenecks, trim costs, and take advantage of new business opportunities.