Today every customer wants to know the status of their order, particularly any changes to the estimated time of arrival (ETA) as well as the real-time location of each delivery vehicle. According to a YouGov survey, if supply chain performance fails to meet expectations a worrying 35% of high-tech customers may switch brands. You can almost hear the drumming of fingernails as more research reveals shrinking customer tolerance for long delivery times. And of course everyone wants delivery free of charge.

The rise of e-commerce is heaping more complexity on top of an already complex technology supply chain. Of course, tech customers have no idea what must happen behind the scenes to enable next-day or same-day delivery or to provide opportunities to switch delivery addresses while an order is in transit. They simply expect not be impacted by shipments getting delayed or going astray. They are blissfully unaware of the enormous, coordinated effort that’s required between multiple parties in the technology supply chain.

All of this means it is impossible for tech companies to over-deliver on visibility. With greater transparency in the end-to-end supply chain, tech companies can maintain order volumes, customer loyalty and brand reputation. They can do this while also preventing cargo and inventory loss, avoiding supplier failure, reducing reliance on premium freight, lowering buffer stock, minimizing production outages and lost sales, and ensuring compliance and HSE standards.

Who needs visibility?

With all the benefits of supply chain transparency, it came as no surprise to me when delegates voted ‘Visibility’ as their most pressing topic at the DHL Global Technology Conference in Austin, TX, USA (April 16-18, 2018).

From discussion with our customers, I understand that supply chain visibility plays a vital role right across the technology industry. Functions involving supply chain security need visibility to control assets and trade lanes. Teams managing business continuity need to see beyond own production locations and into 1st and 2nd tier supplier locations. Sourcing functions require greater insight to manage more outsourcing, while procurement teams can only manage complex global supplier tiers if they have greater visibility.

Logistics personnel in the technology industry need more real-time visibility to ensure on-time product delivery, both outbound and inbound to manufacturing. Meanwhile, supply chain managers are anxious to avoid high penalties from production outages and anything that could negatively impact customer satisfaction.

Supply chain visibility is also essential to quality functions tasked with process standardization. How else will technology companies ensure auditable compliance and prove it has maintained important standards? And only with supply chain transparency can product protection teams succeed in preventing loss and ensuring product integrity.

As logistics and e-commerce teams collaborate to co-design the customer-centric technology supply chain of tomorrow – the topic of a previous blog – they should prioritize visibility across the entire global network. If you have any thoughts on this, please share them below in the comments box. I’d be very pleased to expand this discussion online and in person.

Published: May 2018

Image: Shutterstock