Visibility, in terms of shipment tracking and monitoring in transit, is a near-necessary asset for the modern supply chain. But if visibility really was just tracking, shouldn’t we call it that? If the shipment visibility you invest in is only tracking and tracing your product, you’re underserving your supply chain. The visibility that really makes a difference in your supply chain should give you control and insights in every step of your logistics, from the inception of a purchase order, to well after your product reaches its final destination. We’ve already covered how deep visibility can help you manage down to the PO level, and how it can facilitate the last mile, but what about after that? Are you leveraging visibility to improve your logistics after final delivery?
Customs is one of the easiest places for a supply chain team to get caught up in a mess. It’s a big enough task to make sure that you’re compliant and classifying correctly in the beginning phases of a shipment and throughout the import process. Proper filing of ISF information before leaving for the United States and the ability to monitor the completion and timeliness is essential for ensuring fewer headaches down the road. Then comes the nightmare of being audited. Customs can show up at your door and ask for the details of shipments that happened years ago. If you’re not able to readily find and access important documents when customs comes knocking, an audit could take days or even weeks. Even worse, if you can’t find those documents at all, you could face crippling fines. With good supply chain technology, your documents can be stored in the cloud, searchable, and tied to specific shipments and individual orders to make them easy to find. When you’re organized and prepared for an audit, they can take a fraction of the time you’re used to, and might even make you less likely to get audited in the future.
An easy, yet often overlooked, part of post-delivery shipment management is simply double-checking what you actually pay. Oftentimes, somewhere between the start of the quoting process and the actual transport of your product, costs can change, discounts can be incorrectly applied, or numbers can be fudged. When you have all of your quoting and booking documents in a single portal, you can easily go back and check to make sure you didn’t pay more than you were supposed to or that what was shipped matches what was actually ordered. We’ve found that overbilling (usually accidental) happens at an alarming frequency, which means it can be an easy way to get precious dollars back in your budget.
When all of your logistics data is stored and organized in one place, it becomes unbelievably easy to assess that information. A good supply chain software will do this for you—providing analytics and some sort of dashboard to keep a finger on the pulse of your supply chain. Use the data you receive to assess carrier performance, spending, and transit times. Do your vendors and suppliers book and ship in a timely fashion? And how well are they complying with your guidelines? When you have all of your logistics data at your fingertips, you gain the ability to make much more informed decisions about how to move your product and who you choose to work with.
Along with the performance side of data and analytics, good supply chain software unlocks the ability to analyze the financial side of your logistics. If your purchase orders, bookings, freight, duties, taxes and fees are all documented in the same place, you can conjure a landed cost report at the push of a button, with complete accuracy. Depending on the size of your business, that could free up the capacity of multiple team members, allowing them to work on more valuable activities. You can also access things like on-the-water reports, to give your team a clear picture of where your inventory is and when you’ll be able to utilize it. Knowing what product is where at all times gives you the ability to properly calculate your ownership and present those results accurately.
Want to learn more about what supply chain solutions are out there and how they can solve your supply chain headaches? For questions on what solutions may be best for you or to learn what Navegate can do for your supply chain, reach out.
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