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What is supply chain visibility?

Want to be able to track goods and gain a better understanding of your supply chain? Visibility solutions enable you to monitor product movements throughout your supply chain. With this information, you can then better manage your inventory, deliveries and operations. 

This real-time data can provide you with a clear picture of your business to help identify potential problems and guide strategic decisions. This guide answers the question “what is supply chain visibility,” and provides tips for using it in your transportation business. 

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

How does supply chain visibility work?

Supply chain visibility is the ability to track goods as they move through the supply chain. It involves tracking a shipment’s location, status and conditions from point of origin through final destination. 

In the transportation industry, it’s crucial for optimizing operations. Shippers and carriers can better anticipate and quickly respond to issues that may arise when they have access to real-time updates. Supply chain visibility can also help transportation companies minimize shipping disruptions, reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction and enhance efficiency. 

Benefits of supply chain visibility

Transportation companies gain several advantages with supply chain visibility, including:

  • Inventory management: Since businesses can track inventory levels in real-time, they can optimize stock levels while reducing the risk of stockouts.
  • Operational efficiency: Trucking companies can identify supply chain challenges or bottlenecks, and streamline processes while reducing costs with increased visibility.
  • Customer satisfaction: Today’s customers expect real-time order updates and show loyalty to companies offering high levels of shipping transparency.
  • Risk management: Supply chain visibility helps companies identify and respond to potential risks quickly to prevent more significant issues down the line. 
  • Faster order fulfillment: Real-time visibility into the movement of goods allows businesses to address potential delays or disruptions to speed up delivery. 

Challenges of establishing supply chain visibility

Despite the benefits of supply chain visibility, companies face a few obstacles when implementing tech solutions, including:

  • Lack of standardization: Stakeholders within a supply chain may use different systems and technologies to manage tracking data, making collaboration more complicated.
  • Cost and complexity: Implementing a visibility solution can be pricey and complicated, especially for smaller businesses with limited resources.
  • Cybersecurity risks: Visibility software relies on data sharing and connectivity that may increase vulnerability to cyber attacks and compromise sensitive information.
  • Regulatory compliance: Regulatory requirements related to data privacy and security can make establishing visibility more challenging. 

Technology solutions for improving visibility

With the right technology, you can improve your transportation company’s visibility. Here are some technological solutions that can help achieve this goal:

  • Transportation management systems (TMS): TMS software helps businesses manage load planning, shipment tracking and performance reporting operations. These systems can also provide real-time visibility into the movement of goods, helping prevent delays or disruptions. 
  • Warehouse management systems (WMS): A WMS helps manage warehouse operations, including receiving, storing and shipping goods. This software solution provides up-to-date information on inventory levels to help managers optimize storage space and order fulfillment. 
  • Global positioning system (GPS) trackers: GPS trackers can be attached to trucks or shipments to provide real-time location data throughout the movement of goods. 
  • Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags: RFID tags are small electronic devices that can be read by scanners and are attached to products, pallets or containers to track their movements. 
  • Fleet dashcams: With dashcams, trucking companies can monitor their trucks and drivers at all times while shipments are in transit. These devices provide real-time information that can make loads more secure while minimizing delays. 
  • Cloud-based software: These cloud-based platforms help provide a centralized and real-time view of your supply chain. They enable you to manage and track inventory, shipments and other data from anywhere at any time. 

Best practices for increasing supply chain visibility

Want more visibility into your supply chain? Here are some tips to help increase it:

  • Begin with a clear strategy: Establish goals and objectives for achieving visibility by identifying performance metrics and choosing the right technological solutions. 
  • Collaborate with partners: Work closely with your key stakeholders when developing processes and protocols for sharing supply chain data.
  • Invest in the right software: Choose a technology solution that is scalable, flexible and able to integrate with your other systems for the best results.
  • Build better communication: Clear communication channels and transparent data sharing across your supply chain can significantly improve relationships between shippers and carriers.
  • Monitor performance metrics: Software can help provide important insights, but only when clear KPIs are in place to track. By identifying performance benchmarks, you can better identify areas for advancement.
  • Continuously improve: Regularly reviewing and updating your visibility strategy ensures that your processes and technology solutions remain effective. 

Improving operations with supply chain visibility

With the right technology, transportation companies can increase supply chain visibility. These software solutions help businesses improve inventory management, increase operational efficiency, boost customer satisfaction and mitigate risk. Implement visibility software today and see the difference for yourself. 


How do supply chains create visibility?

Supply chain managers must be able to effectively monitor the movement of goods at every step along the journey through real-time updates to establish optimal visibility.

What does lack of supply chain visibility mean?

Companies that lack supply chain visibility do not have access to vital information, leading to inefficient processes and a higher risk of lost shipments. 

What is an example of supply chain visibility?

A transportation manager using GPS trackers on fleet trucks to track shipments is participating in supply chain visibility. Since these trackers provide real-time updates on the location and status of the shipment, the manager can monitor the goods and identify potential delays. 

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