Visibility in Freight: Where’s My Stuff?

MercuryGate Blog - Freight Category
The ongoing and rapid evolution of the global supply chain has created many challenges and opportunities for improvement. Shippers can tap new revenue streams and reach customers across the globe. Unfortunately, supply chains have remained linear, reflecting a more traditional approach to order fulfillment. Linear supply chains, while they had their benefits for simpler shipping requirements, fall short in meeting the demand placed on the industry by e-commerce growth.
Moreover, today’s consumers expect more when it comes to delivery, with the expectation of not having to pay for shipping. Plenty of research exists to support customers that are willing to pay premiums for more transparency and faster order fulfillment. With that in mind, shippers must offer a quicker, free option for shipping. Instead of growing overwhelmed, shippers should focus on the precursor capabilities, such as visibility that lend themselves to better freight management and improved customer service levels.

What Are the Risks of Poor Visibility in Freight?

Poor freight visibility creates many problems. Reduced freight visibility is often an indication of low investment in technologies The potential costs of not investing in technologies to increase visibility in freight are steep. These problems may include:
  • Higher freight spend. As shippers lose insights and the ability to track shipments through the supply chain, the risk of paying more for shipping increases. Moreover, higher freight spend will naturally lead to higher product price points, which will push customers toward a competitor or decide not to buy at all.
  • Inefficient processes. Inefficiencies within the supply chain also stem from poor visibility. A lack of visibility leads to anecdotal or assumptive decision-making and decisions based on little, if any, real data. As a result, shippers and logistics service providers often don’t know where to even begin in identifying the inefficiencies.
  • Failure to recognize delays for freight in transit. Another problem with poor freight visibility includes the inability to acknowledge delays in the movement of freight. Remember, customers expect to receive a product at a specific date that is communicated during purchase and according to the terms of their purchase. If a delay occurs, the consumer will expect a full refund for shipping costs up to and including a full refund for the purchase price.
  • Higher inventory carrying costs. Problems within the global supply chain also contribute to higher inventory carrying costs. Since shippers do not know where their freight is located at any given time, they are more likely to over order products, resulting in a longer turnover rate and lessening overall profitability.
  • Decreased customer service. As problems with freight visibility continue, customer service will decline. Any time a customer’s expectations aren’t met, their confidence in the supplier will also decline — leading them to consider competitors.

Customers Expect Unmatched Visibility

There was a time when visibility in transportation management was a relatively simple concept. Unfortunately, visibility in transportation management has evolved beyond “nice to have” to a “must-have.” According to Transport Topics, visibility in freight is a business requirement. Shippers and logistics service providers that cannot provide customers access to information about their shipment status, real-time visibility, and even the ability to track shipments beyond simple scans will face considerable uncertainty as the market evolves.
For example, when a shipment is listed as “out for delivery,” customers only know that last scan data. That is simply unacceptable in today’s world. Customers want to know exactly when the product will arrive, not just a random range. This is why customers expect more visibility in shipping, and shippers and logistics service providers must respond.

Best Practices to Guarantee Visibility in the Supply Chain

There are countless ways to increase visibility in the supply chain, but the best methods focus on the use of data and connecting the supply chain with these four best practices:
  1. Connect your supply chain with IoT-enabled sensors and devices.
  2. Use apps to track drivers and carriers.
  3. Tender shipments with a modern TMS that allows for integration with real-time visibility providers, such as how the MercuryGate TMS integrates with FourKites to provide more visibility into freight moves.
  4. Take advantage of automated report generators to understand performance.

Improve Visibility in Freight With a Best-of-Breed TMS

It is possible to improve visibility in freight by rethinking your distribution and fulfillment strategies and gaining more visibility in today-to-day operations. Implementing a TMS can make this entire process possible, provided is integrated with your existing systems properly.

Learn More About How Your Organization Can Take Advantage of the Best-of-Breed TMS

John Martin
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