Visibility at Every Touchpoint: How Modern TMS Solutions Help Retailers Smooth Supply Chains
The past few years of the pandemic have created significant imbalances in capacity and demand for goods. During this time, both small and major retailers alike have struggled to meet evolving customer expectations.
Retailers have been at the mercy of their vendors and suppliers trying to navigate the unavailability of critical components needed to manufacture or assemble end products. They have also dealt with overburdened transportation systems that couldn’t meet or maintain their schedules. They have seen highs and lows in consumer demand that have made it very difficult to forecast inventory needs. All of this has contributed to choppy operations and fragmented supply chains, but those disruptions are starting to dissipate.
Eleven percent of retail executives surveyed by KPMG this summer expect significant shortages during the holidays, compared to 80% who expected shortages one year ago. This significant improvement stems from a variety of factors. The primary contributor has been efforts made and technologies used to resolve supply chain snafus. More than 90% of respondents from a McKinsey survey across nearly every sector said they invested in digital supply chain technologies last year.
With this resolve and with a new wave of technology investment, manufacturers and retailers have been finding success by:
- Anticipating problems before customers are aware
- Keeping extra components on hand and ordering more in advance
- Understanding how to better store products until needed
- Adding intelligent solutions within facilities to add production capacity.
These and other strategies are helping retailers, shippers, suppliers, and manufacturers evolve their supply chain management approach to capture more sales by ensuring that end customers aren’t left wanting.
Though it appears retailers have positioned themselves to balance capacity and demand more adequately for the 2022 holiday season, businesses need to stay vigilant and find ways to proactively solve future challenges with greater supply chain visibility.
Embracing Technology that Improves Visibility
Retailers have options for improving end-to-end supply chain visibility and communications with all relevant stakeholders at each touchpoint. McKinsey found that organizations have made great progress in this regard. Sixty seven percent of survey respondents had implemented digital dashboards for better supply chain visibility. Those companies, the survey found, were twice as likely to avoid supply chain problems that many experienced from the start of the pandemic through early 2022.
Retailers need up-to-date forecasts that inform demand to prevent inventory shortages. They also need visibility of capacity at each stage of the supply chain to move products from facilities to warehouses to stores. As well, businesses need greater control over transportation at each stage of the process so they can inform others when plans change, such as when there’s a delay that could impact other stages within the operation.
One solution that greatly contributes to more seamless supply chain operations is a transportation management system (TMS). The technology helps retailers align capacity by optimizing transportation planning and execution. TMS solutions designed with shippers in mind allow businesses to optimize load planning and routing, track shipments and calculate accurate ETAs, and automate freight auditing and payments.
These various capabilities help streamline workflows between shippers, fleets and drivers that improve visibility at each touchpoint. With instant communication, transportation planners are notified of changes as they happen, and can keep teams focused on high priority tasks. Shipper TMS solutions that have customizable analytics dashboards make it easy to monitor KPIs and real-time data that matters to the success of the operation.
We’re Here to Help
PCS Software’s Shipper TMS platform is designed to improve end-to-end supply chain visibility for retailers of all shapes and sizes. Our platform is scalable and integrates with a wide variety of applications to provide real-time shipment insights and streamline operations to ensure that shelves are stocked and the end customer does not experience surprises.
Interested in learning more? Request a demo .