Technology Drives Supply Chain Visibility

Anyone who’s ever taken a driver’s education class should be familiar with the notion of reaction time and the importance of good visibility. The further you can see, and the clearer your visibility, the better you react to the conditions ahead of you. Bad visibility can be calamitous to a driver, and the same can be true when applied to a business lacking visibility into their supply chain.

A high level of supply chain visibility is a cornerstone of the modern logistics business. Particularly with the growth of companies operating at an omnichannel level, the need to understand where inventory is at any given time is vital for effective operation, problem-solving, planning, and, ideally, optimization.

Companies trying to keep pace with supply chain demands accelerated by COVID-19 better supply chain visibility can defend against difficulties created by unexpected circumstances. On better days, it can become a competitive advantage. Who wouldn’t want in-transit transparency on their inventory and the ability to keep customers up to date on its movements? But getting that visibility can be a daunting process. In a recent study, 40% of supply chain decision-makers expressed an intention to increase supply chain visibility in the coming year, with many feeling their visibility is “awfully low.” 

The tools to utilizing data in your supply chain data are, inevitably, technological. And any company with a modern supply chain is a technology-dependent company. But not every company starts that way. Different organizations have different levels of tech fluency and needs.

At Expak Logistics, we recognize that no two companies are the same. We address supply chain visibility issues through our Expak Performance Suite (EPS), a technology platform that’s easily customized to meet customers’ unique and varying needs. 

EPS is comprised of both a complete Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solution, ExpakConnect™, and its client-facing portal, ExpakShip™. 

ExpakConnect™ can manage every piece of data from your shipping partners electronically via Advance Shipping Notices (ASNs), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), AS2, as well as proprietary B2B data interchange methods. Data transfers can be in real-time, sequenced, or processed as batch updates, pulling files from any system: Email, FTP, SFTP, API, VANs, etc. This allows us to manage both inbound and outbound integrations for your supply chain data with ease.

ExpakShip™ is a web-based tool that operates seamlessly from any browser or device. You can utilize it to create, label & track shipments, update shipment statuses, view customizable analytics, manage invoices, and more. It provides settlement capabilities for drivers, carriers, and customers, handling the settlement tasks where the data sits or exported to any accounting system. ExpakShip can integrate into any existing infrastructure, or you can run in our cloud deployments that reduce the need for any infrastructure or technology requirements. 

We are continually improving our technology based on three core principles: Effective Communication, Business Intelligence, and System Innovation. Harmonizing data and automation will drive exponential growth from sustainable ways of transportation to fast deliveries. By continuously pursuing automation and seamless integrations reduce time, increases efficiency, and, most of all, lowers costs.

Determining if Split Inventory is Right for You

Storing your inventory in multiple locations, across the nation, could have enormous benefits for your business. 

What is Distributed Inventory?

Distributed inventory helps keep products closer to your customers. Instead of a single fulfillment location, multiple locations help orders get to their end destination faster and can result in cost savings. 

Thanks to Amazon Prime, today’s customers expect deliveries to happen faster than ever. Two day or less is increasingly the norm. Having a faster delivery time than your competitor can give your company an advantage in driving sales and building customer loyalty. Fulfillment is at the heart of the customer experience, and speed-of-delivery is a big part of that experience.

 

Factors You Need to Consider

 

Analyze Your Existing Customers 

The first step is to analyze your order history to spot where most of your sales are generated.  Many eCommerce stores are not locally targeted; products that are not tied to a particular region are great candidates for inventory splitting.

 

Inventory Management Capabilities

Let your current fulfillment partner know you are thinking about splitting inventory, to see if that is a capability they have. Request software demos to ensure the system meets their needs. Find a provider with customizable software rather than an “off the shelf” system that may not be compatible with your business goals and logistical challenges. Analyze the methods your 3PL uses to manage inventory across multiple locations.


Potential Cost Savings 

How far your shipment travels is a crucial factor in your shipping costs. Inventory that is closer to the customer can be fulfilled via road instead of air, saving you money.  Shipping costs can also quickly add up for heavier items like furniture, auto parts, books and more. The heavier your product is, the higher your potential cost savings when your package has to travel less in the final stages of customer delivery. However, you will want to do a cost analysis to ensure the increased storage costs do not offset the savings in shipping fees.

 

Lower Risks

Natural disasters and catastrophes can prevent shipping carriers from making it to the fulfillment center or cause delays while in transit. Floods, wildfires, hurricanes, snowstorms, or other forces of nature will likely impact some of your orders at some point in time. By splitting your inventory across geographic regions, you will have backup inventory in other locations to prevent delays or lost stock. 

 

Should you split your inventory?


As your business grows, so do your needs, making it an important question to ask your logistics team periodically. By tracking shipping costs and sales volume by geographic location, you will have the ability to decide what is best for your company. Splitting your inventory can save you money and ensure you can meet consumers’ expectations for quick delivery, ensuring everyone is happy. 

 

 

 

 

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