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Supply chain visibility needs prioritising

Real-time visibility needs to be seen as more important.

In a recent survey* of food and drink manufacturers, supply chain visibility did not not rank as one of the highest needs. But, in my opinion, having real-time visibility of your people, processes and products would help you better manage the ‘needs’ that did rank higher, like reducing lead times.

If you have no single technology platform managing your multiple delivery options then how can you hope, for example, to maximize new orders that could be headed in the same direction as other drops? Without visibility of your complete warehouse and delivery operation how can you better operational effectiveness through improved depot/transport management and picking and packing processes?

Invest in the bigger picture. Gaining far greater visibility of your assets would enable you to be more prepared for huge shopping spikes like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.

Black Friday 2014 was all about buying in-store while last year’s sales were largely online. This illustrates the prevalence of omnichannel, of being able to buy from anywhere, anytime and anyhow. But to do that, you need to harmonise delivery across all channels, which is where visibility of inventory is essential.

Using location devices, RFID-tagging and other multiple capture technologies undeniably improve product tracking. But logistics operators are starting to realise that technology in isolation is not the answer. It’s how it meshes together to address fundamental operational and communication issues too.

Having greater visibility of the health and performance of mobile devices like printers could make real gains in productivity, either in store or in the distribution centre. Being able to predict, for example, when batteries in a mobile scanner are about to fail may seem relatively unimportant. But in the ecosystem of fulfilment it could mean the difference between a delivery that’s on time, or late.

By using Zebra’s AVS and OVS platforms with our own, proven asset tracking and printer management solutions, we can really help customers better manage their fleet. To enable them to see not just the location, condition and usage rate of mobile computing devices but also the mobile environment and infrastructure in which they sit.

Our solutions allow retailers, logistics operators and manufacturers to see the big picture. Hardware talks to software and the cloud. It’s this total connectivity that gives them sight of inventory, from distribution centre to store.

Such 360° visibility can help reduce the amount of delivery trucks running empty. It can help store managers optimise staffing levels and promotions. And it can assist proximity marketing using beacon technology. But ultimately, it restores control to organisations, enabling them to better manage their assets, and equip their sales teams with the tools to improve conversion rates and customer service. As many businesses may know to their cost, unpredictable or unreliable delivery experiences affect customer loyalty and, ultimately, sales.

Complete supply chain visibility is essential if businesses are to comply with increasing regulation, provide optimum load conditions, and maximise driver and load efficiency. We’ve learnt a few things in our 30 years of supporting leading brands of back office hardware and software, We know just how to enable you to move goods a lot faster and more efficiently in not just the run-up to Christmas but over the whole trading year.

For more information visit http://datatrade.co.uk or call 01604 666666

*Source: Supply Chain & Logistics Report 2016, Food Manufacture magazine

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