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Turn Your Supply Chain Data Into Actionable Insights

From parcel to fulfillment to freight, data insights at every touchpoint are crucial when it comes to designing your holistic supply chain strategy and avoiding “insane” decisions.

October 2, 2019

How do you know if your supply chain needs optimization? Ask yourself, “Are my customers getting what they want, when they want it, at a cost they are happy to pay?”

If you cannot answer the above question with an unqualified “yes” – then your supply chain, from fulfillment to shipping to logistics, needs to be optimized.

Organizations can collect tons of raw data. With most of it supplied by vendors and carriers, that’s the relatively easy part. But interpreting it correctly? Using it to elevate your business? There’s so much data, and it’s so complex, it can feel like rocket science. But analyzing and optimizing data is always worth it, because an inefficient supply chain actually does have a price tag and, in our experience at Visible Supply Chain Management, can run into a negative cost in the tens of millions of dollars.

Thinking outside the box often requires outside thinking.

As Abraham Lincoln said regarding attorneys, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The same goes for supply chain management. DIY is not a term that belongs in your supply-chain vocabulary. It’s not about how long people have been managing a supply chain, or with a particular organization. Sure, experience should not be overlooked, but a company’s education, qualifications, and years in business are somewhat inconsequential in the face of current data. Been-there-done-that-type thinking tends to lead to hubris and complacency. “Because we’ve always done it this way” is a dangerous and insane approach. When it is applied towards something as complex, in-the-moment, and expensive as a supply chain, it can be disastrous. Any analysis should always begin and end with the data. For the best results, companies need third-party counsel. Ideally, a partner who objectively sees the whole picture with the background of reviewing hundreds of similar data cases in that specific industry.

“Insanity” is a technical term used in a court of law to distinguish guilt from innocence. It is used to describe a state of madness, extreme foolishness, or not being able to distinguish fantasy from reality.

If you were facing charges, how would you be judged for conducting your own supply chain analysis?

Supply chain optimization doesn’t just magically happen over time, nor does it begin with the supplier, and end with the customer. A well-oiled efficient supply chain requires deep analysis of all current data to discern the true reality to make sane decisions. Since the industry moves so fast and Amazon keeps everyone on its toes, supply chains require constant and ongoing reviews and analytic insights that are actionable.

Supply-chain specialists, like Visible, have invested the time and money in the technology and people to get these analyses right, and provide the right strategies for improvement. Visible lives and breathes interpreting data… it’s what we do, every day. Acquiring the technology, resources, and staff required to get this kind of expertise and thinking, in-house, would probably bankrupt most companies. Why should businesses invest in this cost, when they instead can hire a dedicated analytics team, who uses proprietary technologies, is constantly evolving with a rapidly changing industry, and is taking into account all the nuances?

Data is different than information.

Moreover, information is different than insights. And insights are different than actions based on insights. Collecting lots of data is costly, and meaningless, unless you invest in insight gleaning, and go on to invest more in new actions that replace old actions because of the insights you’ve learned. Those who win are typically those who can masterfully implement actionable insights based on data.

For example, what if your shipping volume only required an LTL during the slow months but needed the option to ramp up to FTL status on a moment’s notice? A good supply chain partner will source the best freight companies to handle your changing needs, so you are confident you are maximizing cost savings on every load.

Once considered necessary evils, enlightened companies are now turning their supply chains into competitive advantages.

For most of the last century, it was enough to make a top-of-line mousetrap, advertise and price it competitively, and get it into the right retail stores. A company’s competitive advantage was encompassed in product, pricing, promotion and place. Shipping and fulfillment were often just boxes to be checked.

In today’s online shopping-obsessed world, every line within the supply chain costs time and money. Now, more than ever, this is where the data, and insights on ways to save on shipping and fulfillment, are at the forefront of every retailer’s mind.

Hidden savings could be lurking anywhere from optimizing inventory control, shipping the right product with the right carrier, customer forecasting, product history, market analysis, seasonality and convention spikes planning, and contract negotiating.

Data that turns into actionable information can be disguised in the form of finding that one line in a 72-page carrier contract that costs an average of $2.00 for every return label printed. If that $2.00 pre-printed label requirement was turned off, how much money would be saved year-over-year? That’s just one example of what “optimized” actually means. For some, “optimized” has meant savings in the seven-figure range.

Success is infectious.

Visible Supply Chain Management has always posited that it will only succeed if its clients succeed. Investments in the technology, tools, facilities, and experts required to reimagine supply chains through superior analysis has led to success.

Back to the question, “Are your customers getting what they want, when they want it, at a cost they are happy to pay?” If not, how can optimizations work for your organization? Don’t go it alone, reach out to the experts at Visible Supply Chain Management for your free data analysis today.