With more and more logistics companies adapting to increased demand for deliveries, it becomes crucial to know exactly what state the goods are in.
Digital tools are simplifying this work, however. According to a Pitney Bowes consumer study1, customers expect greater visibility into the delivery service experience: 43% of consumers admit to checking delivery tracking more often today than before the pandemic. In addition, the cost of poor tracking has a strong impact on customer loyalty: 53% of customers said that a poor tracking experience would cause them to stop shopping at a given retailer.
As a result, real-time visibility has shifted from being an additive feature to being a must-have necessity for companies. In order to accurately fulfill orders across an ever-widening range of industries and delivery options, companies must have accurate driver location data in real time, structuring a data-driven approach that fully fits into the smart logistics paradigm. The large amounts of data collected thus enable them to improve delivery routes, fulfill orders quickly, and better solve problems in deliveries.
"Real-time visibility has gone from being an additive feature to being a must-have necessity for companies."
Supply chain and real-time data management
Supply chain managers often fail to get real-time information from carriers, thus struggling to adopt strategies to monitor transportation activities.
In this context, the value of real-time data for smart logistics business operations cannot be overstated: with real-time tracking, supply chain managers have the ability to maintain visibility and have the information they need to quickly make the best decisions to optimize their business.
The data found within a supply chain is incredibly valuable to companies using analytics to measure the progress of their business. By implementing the appropriate technology tools, companies are able to analyze data within Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Transport Management System (TMS) and Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems and use it to make business decisions.
But what are the benefits of real-time decision making?
Transparency in operations
One of the most important features of a sustainable supply chain is transparency of operations. Real-time data provides organizations with complete end-to-end transparency, which is incredibly valuable to all stakeholders involved. Transparency includes the ability to identify sources of supply, the due diligence measures taken in identifying suppliers and the metrics used to calculate carbon emissions.
Better customer experience
Decision making that follows a data-driven approach in turn results in a smoother and more positive customer experience. Supply chain managers can analyze ongoing operations and find ways to reduce wait times and increase accuracy, ensuring that customers receive deliveries on time, complete, and in good condition.
Cost savings in supply chain operations can be achieved by ensuring that demand for raw materials and products is met on time, so that there are no delays in assembly lines or production facilities. These savings can also be achieved by ensuring that products move along the fastest routes and in the shortest time, according to route optimization principles that are part of the smart logistics framework. The data provide supply chain managers with the insights and visibility they need to address supply chain challenges such as reducing waste, increasing operational efficiency and growing profitability.
Collaborative platforms to optimize the supply chain
There are great opportunities and huge optimization potential if a company can store, aggregate and combine data and then use the results to improve the management of their daily activities with real-time tracking and big data analytics tools.
“The main problem for companies is how to choose the right technology stack to create the right data-driven approach efficiently.”
Using shared and collaborative platforms is the most congenial solution to manage not only warehouse inventory or logistics operations but the entire supply chain: a single collaborative cloud platform accelerates communication between companies, increasing chain visibility, improving partner relationship effectiveness and ensuring an optimal customer experience.
If we analyze the main systems used in global supply chains by logistics and transportation companies to track goods, products, processes and information, we see that the recurring elements are as follows:
- ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning): it is a software that enables the integration of information from multiple sources and areas of the company, such as sales, accounting, production, human resources and other departments.
- WMS (Warehouse Management System):it is a software that optimizes material flows within the warehouse. Every movement of goods is recorded in the WMS and transmitted to the ERP.
- TMS (Transport Management System): it is a transportation fleet management software for organizing and planning vehicle and courier routes.
The ultimate goal for companies should be to have a collaborative digital platform that is able to unify data from these different systems and manage supply chain and smart logistics network data to execute and plan actions in the most efficient way, gain complete visibility of global processes, make effective decisions, rationalize costs, mitigate risks and improve service levels.
Logistics companies need to know exactly what state their goods are in, and they are increasingly realizing both the full value of data within the supply chain and how real-time data tracking improves decision making.
The crucial element, then, is to use a solution that provides reliable information about the status of goods in real-time, so that this data can be accessed quickly and using the latest smart logistics software.
By incorporating tools such as IoT tracking devices, inventory management software, big data analytics, AI-based algorithms and automations, supply chain managers can access up-to-the-minute data.
Once accessible, this data can be used to improve end-to-end operations, starting with better logistics and inventory management to reduce surpluses and shortages. This increased supply chain visibility and the benefits of real-time decision making give managers a better overview of trends and demand, the ability to improve forecasting and reporting so that the organization has a better ability to plan.
In effect, the data-driven approach with real-time data results in leaner, less wasteful operations that reduce costs and increase profits.
1. See the study by Pitney Bowes titled Six Things the Consumer of 2021 Really Wants