Huge need for better supply chain visibility among retailers

There is an unmistakable need for better supply chain visibility, concludes Zetes based on its survey of 451 retailers in Europe. Ever-changing consumer demands are creating increasing complexity, waste and costs in retail supply chains. As the main causes of this, the survey respondents mentioned greater returns flexibility, faster deliveries and real-time status updates.

According to Zetes, a technology company specializing in supply chain optimization solutions, lack of visibility affects retail performance, resulting in unnecessary inventory, increased waste and loss of sales due to out-of-stock situations. Other consequences include a lack of real-time notifications to prevent possible disruptions, and failure to register returned goods as available stock.

The survey reveals that as many as 94% of respondents do not have a clear view of events that affect supply chain performance, even though 87% of them believe that full supply chain visibility with real-time updates can create a competitive advantage. In fact, nearly three-quarters of respondents (71%) said that a lack of supply chain visibility was having a negative impact on their business.

Challenges in improving supply chain visibility

Moreover, around 33% of respondents indicated that both the enormous volume of data and the lack of access to real-time data are major challenges in improving supply chain visibility. Meanwhile, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are key business goals; respondents acknowledged that supply chain visibility can improve these factors by more than 30%. In addition, 42% of the supply chain decision-makers named ‘reducing waste’ as a major challenge.

“The ultimate goal of visibility is to gain more control and exploit the potential for better performance,” says Amir Harel, General Manager of Visibility Solutions at Zetes. “As a platform for greater efficiency and network collaboration, visibility can have a transformative effect. Without visibility, it will be difficult for retailers to achieve the big gains that can be made in terms of waste, in-store availability, supplier performance and customer engagement.”

Vision and pragmatism

According to Harel, it revolves around a combination of vision and pragmatism. “In other words, it’s important to think big but start small and then scale up as the benefits become clear. Once you have the right knowledge of supply chain processes and how to synchronize physical and digital data flows across different systems, you can achieve a quick return on investment with a minimum of complexity and technological investment,” continues Harel.