September 4, 2022

What is supply chain visibility software? And why should you care?

Gaining visibility into all aspects of your supply chain business operations should be the top priority for anyone looking to create an efficient and well-oiled supply chain. Of course, knowing where all of your material assets are at any given time, while also tracking the progress of raw materials and planned supply from both internal and external sources is going to put a strain on even the most experienced team. And for those still using disparate systems and outdated, manual methods and processes to do so, it can be near to impossible.

A closer look at supply chain visibility software and solutions

Supply chain visibility software provides logistics teams with the tools they need to gain visibility into the entire supply chain ecosystem, providing actionable insights, helping with inventory optimization and freight management, improving forecast accuracy and delivering a real competitive advantage to shipping operations.

At the most simple level, supply chain visibility means that a shipment in transit can be tracked from point A to point B. In some way, the shipper can receive tracking updates on a shipment, making the truck virtually visible.

Of course, there are many ways to look at supply chain visibility, and many of the traditional visibility software platforms still require some manual work to get the visibility needed.

Effective supply chain visibility software goes beyond those basic track and trace capabilities and is designed around the optimization of supply chain logistics. It does so by breaking down data silos, combining real time tracking with advanced supply chain data and analytics, and delivering highly accurate information and guidance on the best course of action to resolve issues, improve delivery times and reduce costs.

Direct visibility connections via ELD, mobile app, API, EDI, and other means are essential to minimize tedious tracking updates and pull in data automatically for real-time tracking, while machine learning and AI can take on much of the backend monitoring, providing real time alerts should anything go off track.

Why is supply chain visibility software important?

Consumers today can place an order and immediately get updates on their package location with a touch of their fingertips. So why can’t every business do the same? Most shipments will travel thousands of miles, be handled by multiple parties, and take days to do reach their final destination — making today’s shipment lifecycle more complex than ever before. 

There is no room for opacity in your supply chain if increasing customer demands are to be met. With today’s volatile market, more than 20% of companies listed visibility as their greatest supply chain challenge — the greatest share of voice compared to all other challenges. And more than 70% of chief supply chain officers believe that supply chain operations are a key driver for better customer service in their organizations.

What should supply chain visibility software do?

Supply chain visibility is the ability to track shipments in transit. But visibility technology should go beyond manual logistics track and trace capabilities. When determining which supply chain visibility software solution best fits your business needs, there are a few crucial aspects to consider:

How is the shipment physically tracked? Basic track and trace capabilities are included in most supply chain visibility software offerings, but the method and technology used to provide it can vary. Of the options available, ELD tracking, AI assistants, and app tracking are some of the most effective for determining where a shipment is located at any given time. And while all of those options are great, ELD tracking provides the most accurate — and automated — results for enabling real time visibility data.

What kind of information is available? As previously mentioned, knowing where a shipment is is table stakes for any supply chain visibility software. But to improve supply chain performance, it's important to gain insight into more than this. Software that provides map overlays displaying current weather and traffic conditions so that you can take corrective action to avoid distruption prone areas, real time visibility into the dwell time at upcoming loading docks to plan ahead, and does the visibility platform provide instantly actional solutions to issues like these?

How accessible is this information? In order to optimize that visibility data, supply chain managers need to ensure that all of their IT information systems are communicating. A single platform that opens up end-to-end visibility across your supply chain can enable workflow automation, improving team efficiency. On top of that, cloud-based systems are accessible anywhere at any time, making them among the more popular supply transportation management software and chain visibility software options considering today's increasingly remote workforce.

What can you do with this information? Supply chain visibility software solutions empower shippers to aggregate more real-time data, monitor performance, generate insights into their shipping operation using that information, and use those insights to improve partner and customers relationships across the board. From determining lane pricing to more informed carrier selection, improving on-time-performance and delivery (OTP/OTD) to better managing facility selection yard management, there's no question that the right supply chain visibility solutions can enhance supply chain strategy.

Visibility is the foundation of advanced workflow automation

This quote from Shipwell President and Co-founder, Jason Traff, underlines the importance of supply chain visibility software and technology for managers and companies who are looking to unlock their team’s potential.

Why is supply chain visibility important?

Imagine you’re planning to receive a shipment today. You’ve hired people to accept the shipment, maybe action what is inside of the shipment, even arranged warehouse storage. But when the shipment doesn’t arrive, you have little to no insight as to its location, or when it will arrive. 

Sound familiar? That’s because only 35% of shippers use a transportation management system (TMS) in their supply chain management strategy.

Supply chain visibility software, paired with an advanced, data-driven shipping platform with full TMS capabilities, can help companies:

  • Increase control across their supply chain processes and streamline operations planning with real-time insights
  • Improve customer service with ETA predictions, enabling a better customer experience and increased transparency into shipments
  • Manage exceptions in the supply chain quickly and seamlessly through machine learning and artificial intelligence powered cababilities for faster delivery and improved service levels
  • Improve carrier and partner relationships with dynamic data that provides full visibility into historical performance at every level of the supply chain
  • Better understand individual carrier reliability — weighing factors beyond just price including on-time delivery (OTD) rate, damage rate, insurance status, etc.
  • Easily access compliance and regulation documentation and systems designed to manage complex shipments
  • Develop and implement a more confident and successful shipping strategy
Trucks are using TMS for transporting goods to the required destinations.

How to gain supply chain visibility in a volatile market?

The only constant in the logistics market is change. As a result, most companies recognize that supply chain planning has become imperative to having a successful logistics operation. During black swan events like COVID-19, market changes come quickly and resilient supply chains have been the differentiating factor between companies that thrive, and those that haven’t made it through the pandemic.

“Our shipping and visibility platform has put our customers in a good position to weather this storm,” says Traff. “And because it’s cloud-based, it can help companies navigate future market disruptions while also de-risking their infrastructure spend.”  

With an uncertain future and so many factors beyond our control, now is the time for shippers to have supply chain visibility solutions that put power back in their hands. Learn how Shipwell helped customers manage inventory levels, manage transportation more, improve customer satisfaction, and keep their business on track with its own TMS software and supply chain visibility platform.

Read more: Best practices for handling the worst: Lessons learned from Covid-19

How can Shipwell improve supply chain visibility and performance?

To address the problems that carriers face, Shipwell's platform focuses on innovative solutions for capacity, visibility, and carrier management, starting with timely delivery and a diversified carrier network.

Connected Network

Shipwell's connected network offers two million ELD-connected units in its carrier network, including access to both capacity and live tracking across modes like drayage, LTL, parcel and final mile.

Compass Dashboard

Continuously monitor all shipments throughout the shipment lifecycle from a central location. By proactively identifying issues and providing guided actions to address them instantly through machine learning and AI, shippers can see a 98% on-time delivery and pickup rate.

Responsive ETAs

Provide shippers global trade management with at-a-glance status updates for estimated arrival times for shipments en route, taking into account real time traffic and weather conditions along delivery routes, along with other factors that can cause delays. Logistics managers can now see which shipments are on time, which are running late and which are at risk of missing their scheduled delivery time, all directly on the Shipwell platform.

Powerful TMS platform

Uncover savings on up to 25% of an organization’s current freight spend by identifying gaps and inefficiencies.

Seamless integration

Easy integration with everything from your order management, ingestion, and invoicing to driver tracking and LTL rating systems, Shipwell brings all of your existing systems together and allows you to get up and running quickly, and our scalable cloud-based platform means that you can adapt on the fly as your needs change.

Pricing intelligence

Powerful pricing and business intelligence capabilities provide shippers with personalized rate forecasts for up to 14 days in the future based on internal data and current market trends. Shippers can also use this tool to benchmark their historical shipping spend against the market average.

Shipwell’s native app

Available on Android and iPhone as well as desktop, our app allows you to book and manage shipments, stay connected with drivers from pickup through delivery and automate phone calls and manual touchpoints.

How can you start shipping smarter today?

As logistics operations become increasingly complicated, it’s crucial to have all of your supply chain partners aligned to your strategy. Shipwell helps you do this with aggregated supply chain visibility tools within a single platform.

By combining a robust partner network, powerful data and analytics, real time alerts and transportation management, along with seamless integration into your existing systems, true supply chain visibility becomes a force multiplier in your digital transformation strategy.

The first step to understanding where to start is to determine which KPIs are important to your business and your team. Some examples include:

  • What do you want to know about your logistics operation? This could include your on-time delivery rate, carrier performance, average rates on different lanes, etc.
  • How are you looking to transform your supply chain with increased visibility? Track and trace capabilities are great for physical visibility, while a connected supply chain technology supplier could reduce inefficiencies across the team with end-to-end visibility.
  • What integrations do I need for a successful on-boarding? Get your IT infrastructure team involved to determine what integrations make the most sense for your supply chain needs.

With these in mind, you’ll be prepared to determine which supply chain partners are right for you and your business. To learn more about Shipwell’s connected platform, speak with an expert today!

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