It’s no secret that numerous retail and e-commerce businesses face great challenges regarding their supply chains and logistics strategies. Rules, laws, regulations, customer expectations and demands are just a few of the factors that force such businesses to step up their game. The ability to trace and track goods from manufacturers or suppliers all the way to the end-users is one of the top concerns of retail and e-commerce businesses.
However, transparency and visibility are difficult to implement in business logistics. The main reason is that the technology that can aid businesses on matters regarding traceability and transparency is oftentimes confusing and lacking efficiency in many ways.
Regardless of that fact, many businesses still manage to effectively implement trace and track system into their logistics strategy. The key is in how those companies evaluate the traceability of their supply chain in order to make the right investments, as well as how they mitigate the risks in case of a supply chain failure. With that in mind, here are a few ways to achieve transparency and traceability in logistics.
Why the need for transparency and traceability?
There are two major factors that determine the importance of traceability and transparency in logistics. The first factor regards consumers themselves and governments that regulate the trade. As an example, a recent market trend that influences consumer behavior and their expectations is tracking orders.
Consumers want to keep an eye on their order from the moment they make a purchase to the moment their package arrives at their doorstep. On the other hand, regulators force businesses to disclose information, especially regarding food and beverages, because they demand more data about how such products are made and transported from manufacturing to the point of delivery.
The other factor regards businesses themselves. Logistics transparency and traceability within the supply chain allows businesses to evaluate performance, manage risks, improve efficiency, reduce costs and much more.
Exchange data with trading partners
The key to transparency and traceability of your goods across the entire supply chain, as well as your logistics strategy, is data. Data or relevant information needs to be shared between all trading partners involved in a supply chain.
The information obtained this way is of the utmost importance because it can indicate the potential problems that might occur and give you time to come up with a solution. That’s why every trade partner ranging from the freight forwarder to supplier must exchange data with you at all times. As an example, if a supplier doesn’t have enough inventory or their delivery will be delayed, they must inform you straight away so that you can contact alternative vendors on time.
Always be transparent with your customers
Whether you’re dealing with clients or directly with customers, transparency is vital for maintaining a good relationship with everyone. That said, every supply chain may eventually run into some issues. For example, your manufacturer may be late with their deliveries or your drivers may not deliver goods on time due to heavy traffic. In any event, providing seamless customer service and support is a must. Therefore, should any issue arise, you must inform customers immediately. Moreover, if customers experience any issues with your deliveries, they should be able to contact you and resolve the problem without any delays. The best way to ensure proper customer service and support is through seamless communication. A good way to achieve this is to opt for the best business VoIP solution. Phone service over the Internet will allow your logistics company to always communicate with clients and customers in the best and most reliable way possible.
Leverage technology to track deliveries
As mentioned before, the technology that should aid businesses in tracking orders is oftentimes confusing or lacks efficiency where it’s needed the most. As an example, the technology available to businesses includes alphanumerical codes, bar codes, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags and GIS (Geographic Information System). Each of these technologies has advantages and disadvantages. Some require manual scans while others are more compatible with automation.
By far, the most effective technology for tracking orders and deliveries is GPS (Global Positioning System). With a reliable GPS tracking device, you can have insight into whereabouts of your entire vehicle fleet at any given moment. Technology is oftentimes necessary to properly achieve transparency and traceability in logistics. However, it’s up to you to decide which technology to opt for based on your supply chain needs.
A solution in blockchain
Ever since the blockchain technology has entered the market alongside cryptocurrencies, there have been open discussions regarding its implementation in the supply chain and logistics. As you may already know, blockchain’s intended purpose was to act as a decentralized public ledger that will record transactions between two parties.
In case of traceability and transparency within the logistics strategy for retail and e-commerce businesses, blockchain technology can act as a natural party that collects data and information from all trading partners and it’s not owned by anyone individually but the entire industry. Unfortunately, blockchain technology is still in the discussion phase or perhaps even in early development. It might, however, present a unique solution in the near future.
Traceability and transparency are fundamental for a solid logistics strategy and an effective supply chain. Retail and e-commerce businesses that wish to remain competitive in the market, as well as meet customer expectations, will have to step up their game and find a solution that will allow them to leverage more transparency and traceability in their logistics.