What is Supply Chain Visibility?
Supply chain visibility is the ability to locate and actively track raw materials, parts, complete products, or specific orders as they travel throughout the value chain from supplier to the end customer.
Though technological innovations have focused on providing inventory control within a specific stage of the value chain, organizations have struggled to expand their scope to achieve end-to-end visibility over the entire lifecycle.
Supply chain visibility has become increasingly important for brands across all categories as supplier networks become more complex, and in some cases, operationally siloed. Brands are seeking to position their supply chains for success amid risks of global disruption and meet rising consumer demand. As a result, new technology and software solution providers have emerged to provide end-to-end visibility for everything from transportation and logistics to excess inventory optimization. With supply chain visibility solutions, brands are empowered with more data and insights to quickly and proactively address potential inventory challenges and meet delivery timelines.
Lacking Visibility During Times of Disruption
In 2020, manufacturers and retailers experienced an unprecedented lack of predictability and inventory challenges which lead to inventory shortages, stockouts, and ultimately massive revenue losses. Businesses can’t afford to repeat this again.
The CPG industry in particular felt the impact of vulnerabilities within the supply chain at the height of COVID-19. In the beginning, consumers reacted by stocking up on essential CPG goods, leading to massive shortages of essentials like toilet paper and cleaning products. Supply chains then reacted by ramping up production to meet the unprecedented increase in demand. Sourcing international materials to replenish inventory levels became a challenge due to import restrictions in place at the time, and consequently, the CPG industry experienced substantial inventory shortages resulting in a lag in restock times for stores.
As a response to the panic-buying, supply chains scrambled to meet increased demand. However, this reactive response resulted in long term excess inventory problems along the entire supply chain when consumer demand inevitably decreased. What brands have seen on a larger scale is the importance of having a fully visible, agile supply chain to quickly adapt to surprise disruptions. Supply chain visibility is necessary to predict and protect inventory levels and avoid long term revenue losses.
How Supply Chain Visibility Can Help Brands Proactively Optimize Inventory
Even with the best planning solutions in place, there are uncontrollable external factors that lead to the buildup of slow-moving & excess inventory—market disruption, changing consumer trends and spending habits, unexpected weather, to name a few. Brands can prepare for these challenges and proactively address slow-moving & excess inventory when provided with better visibility into where inventory is sitting, its performance, what the real-time levels are, and where the inventory’s end destination lies.
Identify Potential Inventory Issues with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Make Informed Go-to-Market Decisions
AI-powered solutions can help brands leverage historical data, trends, and more to predict and understand which subsets of products are at risk of potentially becoming slow-moving or excess, and when they are expected to be deemed as such. This valuable data enables teams to determine the best way to offload inventory depending on their goals (ie higher margins, transactional volume)—taking into account factors such as quantities, pricing, even which channels you sell the inventory into. Brands can free up capital tied to slow-moving or excess inventory faster and maximize their recovery earlier in the product lifecycle.
Consolidate Data Sources into a Single System of Record and Improve Production Across Teams
For many years, internal teams managing and selling inventory relied on complex, manual processes for tracking down and managing data across different systems. This complicated workflow resulted in several challenges that eventually impacted the bottom line, ranging from dealing with inaccurate or incomplete data to overselling and more. Brands began to implement inventory visibility solutions as a result, in order to achieve a single, centralized and real-time view of inventory performance and where it’s stored. Different teams gain access to identical information—where inventory is sitting, how it’s performing, and all key data, attributes, and images. Provided with full and immediate visibility, teams can streamline their workflows and collaborate more effectively, making even faster decisions on how they should move different subsets of inventory.
The supply chain visibility market is vast and growing, and there are plenty of solutions helping brands address challenges at any point of the value chain. While many solutions have focused primarily on the first half of the supply chain tracking the movement of raw materials and goods across suppliers and manufacturers, there is an emerging need for inventory visibility in the latter half after it’s been delivered. By investing in supply chain visibility solutions, brands can utilize important insights to ensure that they reduce operating costs, improve team workflows and production, and maximize recovery.
As a leader in supply chain visibility, INTURN addresses the largest ongoing problem for brands: inventory. We offer supply chain visibility solutions that empower teams to proactively predict inventory at risk of becoming slow-moving or excess, as well as optimize existing overstock to maximize recovery and streamline workflows.
We’ve partnered with leading brands across industries worldwide, each with their own set of unique challenges to solve. Get in touch to learn how our solution can help you optimize your inventory.