Across industries, customer expectations for a stellar buying experience are higher than ever. Modern consumers want personalized service, streamlined purchasing, fast (and often free) shipping, and real-time visibility into order tracking post-purchase. Businesses, in turn, are feeling the pressure to oblige—but they can’t do that easily or cost-effectively without access to the right data and the right technology tools.
Ensuring a clear and visible supply chain (from supplier to manufacturer to distributor to consumer) requires real-time data, as well as supply chain software tools like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Tools like these help businesses simplify the complexity of modern supply chains, particularly those with diverse or international partner and supplier networks.
Perhaps one of the most important factors in mastering supply chain management is ensuring order visibility, not just for your internal teams, but for your buyers. Fortunately, not only does doing so help foster lasting customer relationships, but it provides a competitive edge against the nearly one-third of organizations that are still not able to provide this visibility to their customers.
Complete supply chain visibility is vital to excellent customer service, order fulfillment, business analytics, and streamlined business processes. Without it, businesses don’t have the insight they need to pinpoint weaknesses across their supply chain. In turn, they are rendered unable to improve them.
Unfortunately, companies with poor supply chain visibility also risk customer dissatisfaction, as the impact of this shortcoming is a pain often felt by the customer. In fact, as many as 34% of customers have faced a late shipment due to out-of-stock items.
If you’re a business looking to master procurement, inventory, and order management across your supply chain—plus avoid inventory shortages, track raw materials and products, and guarantee your customers complete order visibility—here are a few factors to consider.
For supply chain professionals who get it right, end-to-end order visibility means fewer disruptions and increased customer satisfaction, as well as lower operational costs, shipping costs, and overhead costs. It also enables companies to:
With the need to mitigate human error and eliminate error-prone processes continuing to grow, it should come as no surprise that 45% of businesses consider automation as a vital component of supply chain management.
The automation of supply chain operations helps boost inventory visibility and prevent customers from ordering out-of-stock products. It also reduces manual work from employees and improves the efficiency of your supply chain. When you can delegate once-manual tasks to automated intelligence or machine learning, you avoid duplicate orders or inaccurate order information and take the control needed to fuel and streamline your business with real-time data.
From the moment a customer places an order to the moment it arrives on their doorstep, they demand transparency. They want total insight into their shipping and order fulfillment process, and they expect companies to be able to comply.
This means you need to know where your products are, what your current inventory levels are (including across transportation vehicles and warehouses), and when your products are due to arrive—as well as a way to keep that data up-to-date and accessible. Then, you need to be able to take that data and act on it, ensuring proactive communication about shipment status, delays, and more, with your customers.
Miss the mark, and you risk losing even your most loyal or long-standing customers. But when you get it right, you can trust that customers will remember the frictionless experience—and keep coming back.
Modern businesses are long overdue for an adaptable, resilient supply chain that reacts quickly and effectively to challenges. According to Microsoft, leveraging the right tools (like Dynamics 365 for Supply Chain Management) makes it possible to not just improve current ways of working, but to embrace new and innovative ways to do business.
Looking to do better planning, forecasting, and inventory management? To automate warehouse management and order fulfillment so you can expedite delivery times? To not just quantify demand, but predict it, so you can finally eliminate under- or over-stocking? Consider investing in supply chain management tooling for a clear, end-to-end view of where and how to best improve your business offering. To learn more about how to optimize every stage of the customer-to-cash cycle, check out this guide to best practices.