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How to improve supply chain visibility

Supply chain managers have long considered end-to-end visibility for supply chains to be a “holy grail” of sorts, recognizing its potential in supply chain optimization. But until the last decade or so, the supply chain visibility technology required to facilitate it wasn’t ready for widespread adoption.

Now that supply chain visibility software is much more accessible to even smaller companies, real-time visibility platforms can benefit any supply chain participant. 

Keep reading to learn how to improve supply chain visibility for your business, and get some answers to frequently asked transport visibility questions along the way. 

And when you’re finished, check out the other articles in our ‘Supply chain visibility’ series:

What is end-to-end supply chain visibility?

End-to-end supply chain visibility refers to the ability to track and monitor each stage of the supply chain process. Starting from raw goods and components, it entails overseeing materials through manufacturing and logistics, all the way to the final delivery to the customer. The goal is to have real-time or near-real-time information about the status and location of every item at any given moment.

Here are the main elements involved: 

  • Supplier visibility: This relates to knowledge about suppliers’ operational processes. It includes production capacity, inventory levels, and possible disruptions.
  • Production visibility: This includes insights into production schedules and capacity. It also involves real-time status of manufacturing processes.
  • Inventory visibility: This is real-time knowledge of inventory levels. It covers all locations, including warehouses, distribution centers, and retail outlets.
  • Transportation visibility: This allows tracking of goods between locations. It includes real-time shipment locations, estimated arrival times, and possible delays.
  • Demand visibility: This involves understanding customer demand patterns. It includes seasonal fluctuations, trends, and forecast accuracy.
  • Customer visibility: This covers the final stage of the supply chain. It includes when and how the customer receives the product.

Benefits of supply chain visibility

Increased supply chain visibility offers several benefits to businesses, including the following.

  1. Improved decision-making: Visibility into the supply chain provides real-time data, enabling better, more informed decisions. This helps in predicting trends, managing risks, and optimizing operations.
  2. Increased efficiency: Supply chain visibility allows businesses to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and waste, enabling process streamlining for better productivity.
  3. Risk management: With clear visibility, potential disruptions in the supply chain can be highlighted early, allowing for proactive risk management and mitigation strategies.
  4. Better customer service: Businesses can provide accurate delivery estimates with improved supply chain visibility, managing customer expectations and boosting satisfaction.
  5. Increased collaboration: Visibility encourages information sharing across the supply chain with suppliers, logistics providers, and customers, leading to improved collaboration and mutual benefits.
  6. Cost savings: By improving efficiency, visibility can lead to significant cost reductions, including lower inventory, labor, and transportation costs.
  7. Regulatory compliance: Visibility in the supply chain helps track and demonstrate compliance with industry regulations, ensuring responsible sourcing and manufacturing practices.
  8. Sustainability: Supply chain visibility can support sustainability goals by reducing waste, lowering carbon footprints, and promoting ethical sourcing.

No matter which industry you’re in, real-time supply chain visibility tools can help your business succeed in an increasingly competitive landscape.

How does improved supply chain visibility improve the planning process?

Improved supply chain visibility plays a crucial role in enhancing the planning process. When you have a clear view of your supply chain, you gain better control over operations.

Visibility provides real-time access to vital data. This includes information about inventory, demand, supplier performance, and logistics. Such data is key in formulating accurate and effective plans.

For instance, with visibility, businesses can more accurately forecast demand. Understanding past trends and current market conditions allows for effective production planning. This helps avoid stockouts or overstocking.

Additionally, visibility into supplier performance aids procurement planning. Businesses can identify reliable suppliers and plan orders accordingly. This reduces risks of delays or quality issues.

In logistics, supply chain visibility solutions enable the tracking of goods in transit. It provides data for transportation planning and can help improve delivery accuracy. This results in higher customer satisfaction.

In essence, improved visibility makes the planning process more data-driven. It leads to better decision-making, more effective operations, and ultimately, increased profitability.

How to increase supply chain visibility 

Here are several ways to enhance your supply chain visibility.

  1. Apply technology: Use systems like ERP, TMS, and WMS to centralize data. Also consider technologies like IoT, AI, and blockchain for added visibility.
  2. Integrate data: Ensure your supply chain systems can communicate effectively. Seamless data exchange is vital for total visibility.
  3. Implement real-time tracking: Leverage GPS and RFID technologies for real-time tracking of goods during transportation.
  4. Collaborate: Develop strong relationships with suppliers, logistics providers, and customers. Sharing data and insights can enhance visibility across the chain.
  5. Use cloud-based solutions: Employ cloud-based platforms for easy access to real-time data from anywhere. These systems can scale with your business.
  6. Automate: Where possible, automate data collection to reduce human error and provide more reliable data for visibility.
  7. Audit processes: Routinely audit your supply chain processes. This ensures data accuracy and helps identify areas where visibility can be improved.

Increasing supply chain visibility is a long-term process, requiring ongoing efforts and a readiness to adapt to new technologies and practices.

Take advantage of supply chain visibility benefits 

Now that you understand the importance of supply chain visibility, it’s time to take action. Supply chain visibility platforms can be customized to fit the specific needs and budget of any-sized business, so why delay? 

Chances are your competitors are already enjoying the advantages of advanced transportation visibility technologies, so don’t get left behind. Start researching the best supply chain visibility tools for your company today.


What is lack of visibility in supply chain?

Lack of visibility in the supply chain refers to limited insight into processes and transactions. It obscures understanding of inventory levels, supplier reliability, or transport statuses. This lack of transparency can lead to inefficiencies and risks.

What is supply chain agility?

Supply chain agility is the ability of a supply chain to respond quickly to changes. This includes fluctuations in demand, supply disruptions, or changes in market conditions. An agile supply chain adapts swiftly, maintaining efficiency and customer satisfaction.

What is the meaning of SCV?

SCV stands for supply chain visibility. It refers to the transparency of processes and transactions in a supply chain. SCV provides real-time insights into product locations, transport statuses, and inventory levels.

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