Streamlining pre-shipping efforts creates efficiency and visibility
In an IDC research survey, supply chain executives agree, “visibility, agility, supply diversification, and collaboration strategies” are the top responses for companies to mitigate supply chain risk from disruption. Furthermore, supply chain visibility and collaboration are essential for providing sufficient insights and time to react effectively.
IDC lead analyst Simon Ellis reinforced his research when addressing e2open’s client and partner community at the recently held Connect 2023 customer conference. Ellis stated, “Visibility, particularly multi-tier visibility, remains the largest unrealized capability within the supply chain.” The pandemic and other global disruptors have increased the need for greater visibility and collaboration. Companies are beginning to realize they only have control (in most cases) over what is happening in their own “four walls,” but most disruptions are ripple effects of issues that occur in the ecosystems of suppliers, producers, and transport partners.
While the most conspicuous concern is visibility into the shipping process, supply chain issues can take many shapes. Problems that arise before and during shipping often cause downstream problems that prevent companies from meeting their revenue goals and customer service levels. The impact can be even more significant when the issues occur at the beginning of the shipment process.
To efficiently pass the first hurdle of getting a shipment out the door, supply chain managers need to streamline the shipment preparation efforts and booking process. By empowering suppliers and vendors with new capabilities, many companies can gain greater efficiency and visibility.
Vendor Shipment Booking
Once goods are ready to ship, getting them moving without delay is critical. Historically, suppliers and production facilities would communicate shipment pickup information to the brand, cargo owner, designated logistics service provider (LSP) or a carrier who would create the booking. This time-consuming task can lead to delays and errors. Instead, the most cost-effective and efficient means is to enable the factory with digital tools to execute the shipment booking. After all, the vendor with the goods sitting on their loading dock has complete visibility into the shipment details, carton details, etc. Who better to provide accurate and required information directly to the contract carrier?
Vendor Shipment Booking is called many things these days, but the concept of reducing any pre-shipping delays by enabling the vendor, supplier, or manufacturer to initiate the shipment booking process still prevails.
The buyer or brand owner can transfer this effort to the vendor by extending the shipment booking capability. If the vendor is trustworthy, they can execute the transportation requests directly within the buyer’s system and participate in the buyer’s process visibility, the same as an internal resource.
Trust and Collaboration
The relationship between the vendor and the brand owner should be based on trust and built through collaboration. Without these attributes, the process becomes another blind spot.
Additionally, the brand owner must be capable of providing the technology to enable the vendor to create the shipment booking strategically and correctly. Fortunately, preparing the factory floor to flip a ready-to-ship order into a shipment booking benefits both sides equally.
The factory floor is a perfect example of where you can enable the vendor to book the shipment for goods rolling off the production line and significantly shorten the lead time of pre-shipping. As a result, the factory floor is more efficient with freed-up space from a very short pre-shipping hold.
Visibility and Insight
The buyer or brand owner also benefits in this scenario. The buyer now has immediate visibility into the order shipment status. Ideally, this visibility is quicker and has more accurate data than a phone-coordinated shipment booking.
In addition, the brand owner gains more control over this process. By no longer needing to manage the shipment booking process, personnel are now available to manage the process exceptions, allowing the process to become more agile and resilient.
With so many possible failure points contributing to the complexity of answering “Has it shipped yet?”, it helps to stay focused on strategic innovation. Changing how you and your partners operate can be challenging, but the yields from those efforts can significantly increase visibility, control, and efficiency.
When done right, both the buyer and the vendor can benefit from collaborating and building their relationship to share these responsibilities. The net gain can be the flexibility and agility many companies require in our current supply chain environment.
Jeff Eckel is Director of Product Marketing — Supply, Manufacturing, AI at e2open. To learn more about our vendor shipment booking capabilities, please connect with us at www.e2open.com.