The Importance of Visibility into Inbound Shipments

  Semi truck unloading cargo at dock

The modern supply chain requires visibility into both outbound and inbound shipments. The ultimate goal of visibility technology is to achieve increased transparency across the supply chain. Adding components like inbound visibility gets us closer to that goal, but it also comes with its own distinct set of advantages. Achieving these advantages requires collaboration among supply chain partners, particularly by way of efficiently sharing accurate, timely data with one another. When suppliers and their customers collaborate and share inbound shipment data they greatly increase the power of their decision making and their ability to deliver outstanding customer experiences.

Why Is Inbound Visibility Important?

Every leg of the supply chain has an impact both up and downstream. A blind spot in one area makes it more difficult to plan elsewhere. Inbound shipments from your suppliers have a considerable impact on your ability to plan, and the ability to track them allows for more control over inventory and product availability.

ETAs have been historically difficult to nail down, which can be very disruptive to docks and warehouses. Better visibility into inbound shipments can alleviate a number of issues, creating more efficiency and a better experience all the way down the supply chain. The ability to hit appointments hinges on accurate ETAs—it’s not just lateness that causes issues, early deliveries also create chaos. Retailers are beginning to impose fees for deliveries that are not made on-time and in full. Visibility into ETAs is more important now than ever before.

Inbound Visibility Is all About Collaboration and Perpetual Data Sharing

Gaining visibility on inbound shipments has been a challenge because it requires a collaborative and active relationship with upstream suppliers. If one side of the relationship isn’t sharing accurate, timely data, it results in a poor visibility experience. Customers benefit greatly from being able to easily request data from their suppliers or share data with their upstream or downstream customers. In order to promote this level of exchange, we’ve added Collaborative Visibility™ as a feature to our Advanced Visibility Platform™.

We understand that not every supplier will be using the same set of visibility tools, but that doesn’t change the fact that their data is an important piece of the visibility puzzle. Giving shippers the ability to share their information with people outside of their networks is a crucial piece of the puzzle. With both location and line-item level visibility, along with the ability to share information with partners regardless of whether or not they use the same visibility technology, collaboration and communication become far more simple and straightforward.

Reduced Risk Levels and Lower Costs

Inbound visibility improves operational efficiency. Understanding where your inbound shipments are, and more importantly when they’ll arrive, enables you to plan ahead. You know when you’ll need certain people on staff to receive and process shipments and reduces driver dwell times. It helps you plan outbound shipments further in advance because you have a clearer picture of when certain items will be ready. These benefits float upstream.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

Poor upstream visibility is a major contributing factor to product shortages. Inbound visibility provides shippers with an increased ability to plan ahead, reducing the risk of product shortages and stock outs. The data provided by inbound visibility allows for better decision making. The result is a better customer experience because products are in stock when they’re needed. Increased inbound visibility will help solve the problem of a store running low on inventory. Right now the supply chain needs to make decisions based only on what’s in their distribution centers. With access to timely inbound visibility data, they can see what is on its way and make more informed decisions when deploying stock.

As we seek to eliminate gaps in visibility, creating solutions for each stage in the supply chain becomes increasingly important. Inbound visibility is a major piece of that puzzle and enabling easy and streamlined collaboration between supply chain partners is necessary for that to become a reality.