As the e-commerce market continues to grow, customers have come to expect real-time visibility and container tracking. Now, sharing parcel visibility information is part of meeting customer expectations and providing good customer service.
The e-commerce industry, valued at an estimated $905 billion in 2022, will undoubtedly continue to grow. Of the people buying e-commerce goods, 91 percent of them are tracking the movement of their packages after they order. And they are quite active in doing so — with 39 percent checking once daily and 19 percent checking numerous times per day.
As the demand for visibility increases among the growing e-commerce customer base, shippers need to build supply chains that can meet the demand for both shipment transparency and shipment volume at the same time. As they struggle with this balance, many adapt by transforming outdated, reactive supply chains into future-focused, proactive ones. Real-time visibility in logistics is crucial in helping shippers build the proactive parcel shipping operations they need to meet the booming customer demand for effective, transparent shipping.
Before shippers can best meet the rising demand for e-commerce operations, they need to understand the difference between reactive and proactive supply chains. These are different ways of responding to supply chain disruptions and other logistics challenges and problems.
Shippers need to respond to constant changes in a dynamic logistics environment that includes capacity changes, temporary factory closures, labor concerns, different consumer behaviors, and other factors. They can choose between a reactive or proactive response.
Reactive supply chains are designed to react to events. While this strategy has traditionally helped shippers keep costs at a minimum, it can have disastrous consequences when the unexpected occurs. While shippers might save up front by being reactive, they will likely save more in the long run by taking a proactive approach that stops problems from escalating and helps them find ways to create more efficiency.
The events of recent years have underscored the need to be ready for the unexpected. The pandemic, extreme weather, and the threat of work stoppages have sent logistics professionals scrambling in search of capacity. The downside of reactive supply chains is that responding after the fact results in slow and clunky solutions, as well as shippers not catching all problems as they occur. Shippers must be more proactive to be ready for anything in a dynamic logistics marketplace.
Proactive supply chains are designed around a future-focused philosophy. This approach helps shippers navigate unexpected disruptions while maintaining operations by planning for the what-if scenarios. This is especially important with the changes and challenges of today’s e-commerce landscape.
Although building a proactive supply chain requires shippers to maintain access to additional capacity and resources, it ultimately helps operations when unexpected disruptions occur. Shippers can respond efficiently, help operations, create better network relationships, and support customer expectations.
Once shippers are ready to embrace a proactive supply chain head-on, the next step is figuring out how to stay on top of operations to respond to events in real time. Technology provides the way forward, and, in particular, using technology to achieve real-time visibility gives shippers a full-picture perspective and keeps them continuously on top of what they need to know. As a result, they can respond as exceptions happen rather than waiting until something comes along.
By providing shippers with a by-the-numbers understanding of their operations, real-time logistics visibility helps them see new opportunities for optimization. They gain insights backed by accurate data, which informs them on ways to do things better. Information on a variety of factors, like providers and channels, helps show where problems lie and where there is room for improvement in real time.
Shippers can take a wealth of data from various sources, bring it together and normalize it, and then use it as business intelligence to gain a clearer picture of their operations. Data includes information from the stages of the shipping process, shipping invoices, transportation visibility platforms, and other relevant sources. All of this information comes together through real-time visibility to create a better picture as it’s happening. As this data becomes automated and software provides analysis and insights from it, shippers gain a clearer view of their operations in real time. They have all the information they need when they need it, which empowers them to respond proactively to various situations.
Following exceptions or disruptions, shippers can turn to analytics to better understand what went wrong and why, which helps them avoid or mitigate similar events more effectively in the future. Software solutions can quickly weed through large amounts of data to find mistakes and problems, which saves immense amounts of time compared to the human equivalent. In addition, humans are likely to miss errors or take a lot of time to find the problem’s root cause. Technology and analytics make this process significantly more efficient, so shippers can stay on top of anomalies and address them immediately before they snowball.
Shippers can build more resilient supply chains by working with partners across the transportation industry. However, these connections rely on communication. With real-time transportation visibility, shippers can quickly share vital shipment data with logistics partners and receive pertinent information from them. This improved access to real-time information ensures everyone in the entire supply chain stays up-to-date and is ready to make future-focused operational decisions. Sharing information gained through real-time visibility is vital to enhanced collaboration.
Improved visibility is especially important because of how complex logistics have become in the modern landscape. Shippers need to clearly see all parts of end-to-end logistics to find the best options and combinations from a range of carriers, modes, and strategies. They may find it worthwhile to focus on zone-skipping or to optimize reverse logistics, for instance, and it’s essential to have a clear view of what’s possible and the best way to go about it.
Poor visibility gets in the way of creating an optimized supply chain and can result in a variety of problems, from inefficiency and reactive responses. As shippers improve real-time visibility, they can collaborate much better. Visibility helps them create a more robust logistics network, find available capacity as needed, collaborate with different parts of the logistics process, and more.
Shippers need to take that leap from having more visibility to gaining actionable insights from it. This is what makes real-time transportation visibility so useful for shipping operations. Visibility insights are only as useful as the software platform through which they’re accessed.
Transportation visibility software means that shippers have easy access to visibility insights and other vital logistics information, including finance and accounting tools, world-class advisory services, and integrated payment systems. These make insights easy to obtain and actionable.
Shippers can leverage these tools to gain holistic visibility over all aspects of supply chain operations, ensuring they can build a proactive supply chain from the ground up. They have the information they need to prepare for what’s likely to come and to quickly respond as needed.
The booming e-commerce sector is demanding visibility. Parcel visibility is essential for providing good customer service, as consumers expect to know a package's location and anticipated arrival. Beyond that, visibility helps shippers run their shipping operations better, as it supports analytics, business decisions, and improved collaboration.
Shippers can use enhanced visibility to become more proactive rather than reactive, which helps them quickly respond to needs and problems. With Intelligent Audit, shippers can use real-time visibility software to build a future-focused, proactive supply chain.
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